Python Hunters Ruben Ramirez and George Brana with 10-foot Bermese python.

It’s an overcast, early spring morning as Ruben Ramirez and George Brana jump into their gold pickup truck and head into a southern section of the Florida Everglades. The truck winds its way for miles through a maze of narrow dirt roads until finally reaching a path blocked by a locked chain-link gate.

Brana jumps out and opens the gate with a key given to him by the South Florida Water Management Department when he and Ramirez obtained their hunting permits. They drive through the gate, and Brana climbs onto the truck bed to begin scouting.

“The hardest part is finding them, not catching them,” Brana says of this day’s intended target. “But you have to be alert at all times. There are water moccasins, coral snakes and rattlesnakes out here. One bite from one of them, and you’re gone.”

Ironically, unlike the three venomous varieties Brana referenced, the snake at the top of the Everglades’ Most Wanted List—and the object of today’s hunt—isn’t poisonous at all. Moreover, it’s not even indigenous to the area. The Burmese python, native to Southeast Asia and capable of reaching adult lengths of nearly 18 feet, is simply a cold-blooded killer. One that, depending on which expert you ask, is wreaking all kinds of havoc in South Florida’s subtropical wetlands.

Photography by Alexia Fodere.

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