Three senior Florida wildlife experts said they interrupted two mating Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park.
Ron Bergeron, Joe Wasilewski and Dan Kimball came across the romantic reptiles Friday while combing the park for the evasive species. The female was 12 feet long and weighed 50 pounds, while the male was about 10 feet long and 30 pounds.
"We were trying to figure out ways of improving detection because these pythons are so difficult to find," Kimball, the park's superintendent, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Their discovery came after the monthlong Python Challenge reduced the population of pythons in Southern Florida, which is estimated to be in the tens of thousands, by just 68 specimens. The park was off-limits during the Python Challenge snake hunt, which ended Feb. 10.
Bergeron is a state wildlife commissioner and Wasilewski is a reptile expert.
All three admitted they were surprised when they spotted the snakes in the saw grass as they walked along a levee.
"We dashed down the levee, me and Joe, and were able to catch both of them," Bergeron said. "It was a mating pair, which is not something you see all the time."
The captured snakes were taken to a park facility where they will be either put to death and dissected, or tagged with a radio transmitter and released so scientists can learn more about their movements.