The Great Burmese Python Challenge Is Set To Begin! We Took The Online Training Course So You Don't Have To

Catching a Burmese Python can be tricky. And then killing it is no simple matter. There are rules. Many, many rules. To kill the mighty Burmese Python, the untrained and knife-wielding explorer must be vigilant, brave, and apparently blood-thirsty.

And -- most importantly -- must take a 15-minute tutorial. And then! The Everglades beckon.

This weekend, the Burmese Python competition will begin, and already more than 400 hunters have signed up to see who can bag the biggest snake and win the $1,000-prize. Hunters from more than 17 states have entered their names to butcher the invasive species, which scientists contend is devastating the ecosystem's natural fauna.

And don't be silly. You don't need a hunting license! Killing pythons is easy! Though there are several do's and don'ts, according to the tutorial.

**DO dispatch the snakes humanely, it admonishes. **DON'T dismember snakes into more than two pieces. (Because then it won't be long enough to win a prize!) **DON'T post weird videos on YouTube of the slaughter. **DO kill them; contest supervisors don't accept live snakes.

So, let's talk conjecture. You're out there. In the dense tangle of the Everglades. You've already studied for those 15 requisite minutes, plunked down your $25 admission fee, and feel ready. Hungry even.

What now? What happens next? How does one go about finding a Burmese Python? There are apparently several ways to unearth a python. First, look to the canals and banks and roads. Then, survey the vegetation to the side where pythons often lurk.

If you see a snake, you MUST stop for a moment. Evidently the Everglades is awash with snakes of every variety and temperament. And some are poisonous. So, is that Burmese Python really a Burmese Python?

It could very possibly be an Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake, which, disconcertingly, LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE A BURMESE PYTHON.

Then, after you've determined whether this specific snake is one that deserves extermination because it happened to be born in a foreign land, what next?.

The tutorial asks this question -- "you've caught the snake, now what?" -- but then, for reasons unclear, doesn't answer it.

So, we're left to fill in the blanks.

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Terrence McCoy