So. Fla. python slayer claims reptile's skin
PALMETTO BAY, Fla. (WSVN) -- The South Florida man who captured and killed the largest Burmese python found in Florida to date was able to claim the ultimate slithery memento: the reptile's skin.
Palmetto Bay resident Jason Leon said he has real respect for nature. When he saw the 18-foot, 8-inch snake near the side of a road on May 11, he said what he really wanted to to was take the animal home. He considers securing the python's hide the next best thing.
"It's a beautiful snake," Leon said. "I know they're an invasive species, but I don't know, I wanted to bring it back."
Home video footage captured the moment Leon struggled with the massive reptile. The python began to wrap itself around Leon's legs, so he killed it with a knife.
Officials returned roughly 18 feet of the snake's hide to Leon. The animal's skeleton was sent to the University of Florida's Extension Service.
This snake had a seven percent body fat, considerably less than an average python of its size, which normally have a 30 percent body fat. This suggests the animal had not eaten for some time before it was captured, but even in that state it could have still taken down an animal weighing up to 170 pounds.
The snake's capture turned Leon into an instant YouTube star, inspiring an animated segment dramatizing the incident. "That's funny," said Leon. "I'm glad somebody got a kick out of it."
Leon marvels at the snake's hide, its colors and its beauty. He plans to have it preserved, and eventually mount it on a wall. "Look at the pattern on that snake," he said. "I see God's creation, I guess, an artist."
Leon said he will most likely have the skin mounted at a local bar before bringing it back home.
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