Christopher Padgett, left, and Matthew Manus, from Sebring, Fla. leave their campsite in the Big Cypress National Preserve for their five-day python hunt. The recommended method for killing pythons is a gunshot to the brain, or decapitation to reduce the threat.
A Burmese python is displayed at the kick-off ceremonies in Davie, Fla., Jan. 12, 2013, for the 2013 "Python Challenge" organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nearly 800 people have signed up to hunt Burmese pythons on public lands in Florida. Experts say the invasive species is decimating native wildlife in the Florida Everglades. For the first time, the public is joining licensed hunters in the search for the snakes.
TV crews pet and take photos as Capt. Jeff Fobb from the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Venom Response Unit, holds a python during the kick-off ceremonies for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's month-long "Python Challenge" in Davie, Fla. on Jan. 12, 2013. The 13-foot reptile was captured in a backyard swimming pool in 2012.
Dan Keenan makes his way through the thick under brush in the Big Cypess National Perserve, Jan. 12, 2013, as he hunts pythons.
Rodney Irwin looks over his shoulder at his veiled chameleon lizard during the kick-off ceremonies for the 2013 Python Challenge in Davie, Fla., Jan. 12, 2013. Irwin said he had rescued the lizard, native to Yemen, after it was turned loose by a breeder near the Everglades. Wildlife experts say pythons are just the tip of the invasive species iceberg. Florida is home to more exotic species of amphibians and reptiles than anywhere else in the world, said John Hayes, dean of research for the University of Florida?s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Trapper "Python Dave" Leibman holds a roll of snake skins he is selling at the Python Challenge kick-off in Davie, Fla., Jan. 12, 2013. Roughly 2,050 pythons have been harvested in Florida since 2000, according to the conservation commission. It?s unknown exactly how many are slithering through the wetlands.
Dan Keenan, a mechanical engineer, looks for python nests as he makes his way through the thick underbrush in the Big Cypess National Preserve, Jan. 12, 2013. Officials hope the "Python Challenge" competition will help rid the Everglades of the invaders while raising awareness about the risks exotic species pose to Florida?s native wildlife.