Tour guide Tommy Owens has become famous overnight after he leaped out of a canoe and wrestled a 10-and-a-half foot Burmese Python into submission in the Florida Everglades.
He said he did it because the Burmese Python is an invasive species and is endangering other animals in the swamp.
“This is my home,” he said in an interview on the Dori Monson Show. “These snakes are exotic. They’re not just exotic, but they’re invasive exotic species. They eat our small mammals and our small wading birds, which is exactly what we were there to see. People come – tourists – come from all over the world to see our animals. They pay good money to do that. And so when the snakes eat them all, there goes our economy. So there’s a lot more involved than just me trying to be a show-off killing a snake.”
Tommy and a fellow Everglades Adventure Tours guide were giving a family of four a tour in two low, wide wooden canoes when they spotted the snake.
He said he didn’t have to think twice about what to do; he had to defend his turf.
“I didn’t even know they had cameras or were taking pictures,” said Tommy. “It was pure instinct. It was kind of a fight-or-flight.”
He jumped out and let the python coil around his arm so he could pick it up. But it was bigger than Tommy thought, and he started to realize it was probably stronger, too. He felt it trying to constrict around his back.
Another tour guide killed it with a knife, and the pair gave it to parks officials so they could study the animal and do a necropsy.
Dori remembers touring the Everglades in an air boat and getting nervous at the approach of an alligator tempted by dog food thrown into the water by guides.
He couldn’t imagine having the courage to jump into the murky water to wrestle one of those swamp-dwellers.
“I knew it was big,” said Tommy. “It was a calculated risk.”
Although he’s become a viral video sensation, Tommy is sad that the snake had to die.
“I remember even saying I’m sorry,” said Tommy. “It’s not the snake’s fault. It’s just like the garbage on the ground, the garbage didn’t get there because it wanted to be there; a human put it there. Same as the snake.”