April 24, 2024

Python Huntress Explains Her Day-to-Day Job

  • Amy Siewe participated in the 2019 Florida Python Challenge and it inspired her to change her life.
  • She moved from Indiana to Florida and now has a guide service that takes people on python hunts.
  • She said she is living her best life β€” even though she gets bitten by pythons from time to time.

This essay as stated is based on a conversation with a python hunter Amy Sieve. It is edited for length and clarity.

During college, I held various jobs in the pet and reptile industry, including breeding snakes and working part-time at an exotic pet store. After college, when I started my career as a real estate broker in Indiana, my work with snakes was more of a hobby.

After my first python hunt in Florida in 2019, I knew I had found my calling. I quit my job and moved to Naples, Florida, to become a contract python hunter.

Why am I hunting pythons

My interest in snakes started when I was very young. My father started taking me out to the lake, where he showed me how to catch all kinds of critters, including snakes.

Sometimes I wonder why I could not develop a passion for kittens, puppies, or something a little more “normal,” but I guess I was born just to love snakes.

By hunting pythons, I am using my passion for snakes to make a difference in the world. People don’t always understand why I hunt pythons when I love snakes. But because of my fascination with them, I am not afraid of the pythons.

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia and are another feature invasive species i Florida.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed a python breeding facility, sending about 900 pythons into the same general area of ​​the Everglades. People who bought Burmese pythons as pets and let them go when they became too big to feed, house and handle also contributed to the problem.

These giant reptiles have become the apex predator in Florida, and they have a voracious appetite.

That’s why you will no longer see some animals, like rabbits, foxes, raccoons, and opossums, in some parts of the Everglades. Burmese pythons don’t eat gizzards, either, so they’ll eat birds and other animals too, especially when their main food sources dwindle.

It’s not their fault they’re here, and I really hate killing them. To preserve the Everglades, however, they must go.

From real estate to python debt

Real estate is an established industry, with processes and systems in place to follow, where with due diligence you can be successful over time.

As a python hunter and guide, I bring my love of snakes and my appetite for adventure to the hunt, and my entrepreneurial drive to the business. Every day brings something new, and I thrive on the challenge – I know I’m living my best life.

Now, I spend my time in the swamp, catching these invisible snakes as they move. It is not easy to find them, because they do not like to be exposed and spend most of their time without moving.

When they move, they tend to travel under vegetation, and their colors camouflage them perfectly with their surroundings.

Photo of leaves and bushes.

A 17-foot python is hiding here.

Amy Sieve

In the summer, we have to hunt at night since it is so hot. We go out on a truck with a “snake deck” – a platform built on it with lights visible over the sides – driving down the roads very slowly, looking into the canals and the grass, looking for pythons.

Sometimes they are in the tree line, sometimes parallel to the road or even crossing the road. They are so big, they usually move quite slowly, and they often don’t see us as predators or prey, but more of a nuisance. When they get spooked and want to go, however, they move very quickly, which makes catching them more challenging.

Amy Siewe and her colleague standing in the back of a truck at night.

Out on the truck, hunt.

Amy Sieve

Python hunting is not without its risks

Although I started out as a python hunters contracted by the stateI now own a guidance service and take people on python debt. I love this because I get to go to the Everglades with people who have never been out before.

I explain all the laws in place to hunt the pythons humanely, teach them how to find and catch the pythons, and show them the correct way to euthanize them.

I capture live pythons and use a captive bolt gun to euthanize them. This method is approved by the American Veterinary Association for humane euthanasia of Burmese pythons.

Although pythons are not venomous, they are extremely strong and powerful animals. Their coils can be a little tricky to find, and the ones over 15 feet long are definitely more dangerous to catch!

Amy Siewe holding 17'3" python.

My personal record: a 17’3” python I caught myself weighing 110 pounds

Amy Sieve

They also have a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. I have been bitten many times, and I can say that the bites are not fun. They bleed a lot.

Plus, there’s always a chance you’ll run into an alligator, panther, bear or venomous snake. However, these animals tend to stay away from humans.

Bloody hand from python bite.

A python bite.

Amy Sieve

How do I evaluate the pythons I’m hunting

I want to use as much of the python as possible, but they don’t eat well, because their meat is very chewy and full of mercury.

However, their skin is gorgeous and they make beautiful leather products. This means that their beauty can be lived on, even if they cannot be part of the natural world in the Everglades. I am pioneering the invasive python leather industry as one of about 10 people who skin the pythons, can them professionally, and make them into products.

I am all registered and ready for the year Florida Python Challenge, too. This will be my fourth year participating – and I took second place in the 2020 challenge for “Heavy Python.”

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