Burmese python hunter gets upper hand on 14-foot snake by sitting on it

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Burmese python
Alex Nickell catches a big snake near Bear Island. CREDIT: ALEX NICKELL

Catching invasive Burmese pythons in Florida is challenging; some hunters grab the snakes by the back of the head, others try to be safer and grab them by the tail, but one hunter decided to catch a 14-foot python by sitting on it.

By day, Alexander Nickell is a carpenter, but when the sun goes down, and the predators come out, he pursues his passion project: hunting Burmese pythons.

Nickell has been hunting the invasive species in Florida since 2008. In those 16 years, Nickell has caught a lot of snakes.

“I’ve got a little in the hundreds, about 140, I think, in that range,” said Nickell. “Year to date from about this date to last year in around about 40.”

While heading to Bear Island, Nickell came across a 14-foot, 10-inch Burmese python slithering across the road late at night.

“I got control of the head real quick,” said Nickell. “She wrapped around both my legs. She tied herself pretty tight.”


Then, in a moment of creative improvisation, Nickell got the upper hand on the python by taking a seat.

“I could actually just lean forward and just sat on her, and she couldn’t move after that. It kind of ended pretty quick because she messed up,” said Nickell.

Quick thinking to overcome the constricting strength of an apex predator.

However, Nickell mentioned, back in 2010 was the only time he caught a bigger snake measuring a bit longer than 16 feet. That said, this isn’t the average python size he finds while hunting.

“Most of the ones just driving down the road you’ll end up seeing are usually at least six foot,” said Nickell.

Nickell has seen how startling the invasive constrictor’s impact on ecological balance has been since the species’ proliferation in Florida.

Burmese python
Burmese python caught. CREDIT: ALEX NICKELL

“From what it was when I was a kid out here, if you stopped off on the side of the road anywhere in the Everglades and maybe had a sandwich, you’d be having to fight raccoons for your sandwich. I’ve been out here solid for the last two years, just out there about every three days at least, and I haven’t seen a raccoon in two years. They’re wiped out and devastated the population of native animals,” said Nickell.

For Nickell, hunting Burmese pythons is a fun hobby. Sure, it isn’t your typical hobby like painting, exercising or traveling, but it is something he is passionate about.

Nickell hopes this passion will help bring balance to the Florida ecosystem and the environment he calls home.

Burmese python
Burmese python skin. CREDIT: ALEX NICKELL

“Helping out at the Everglades because a breeder that size would put a lot more little babies back out there,” said Nickell.

Luckily for Nickell, python hunting in Florida has become a pretty big deal.

In fact, hunters from around the world migrate every year to the Sunshine State for the Florida Python Challenge. In 2023, Nickell competed for the first time, but he isn’t planning on stopping any time soon.

“I just started it last year, so I’m gonna definitely be in from here on out as long as they keep it up,” said Nickell.

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