Mistaken for tree branch, 11-foot python surprises Florida couple; video report

“I couldn't even believe I grabbed it. It was one of those Steve Irwin moments.”

Naples is a Florida city on the Gulf Coast known for high-end shopping and golf courses so it was a surprise when a couple turned into a shopping center to get takeout and discovered a Burmese python on the side of the busy street.

At first Kevin Dinger and Alyssa Barry thought it was a tree branch, but then it started moving, as reported by WBBH and the Naples Daily News.

"I said to him, 'That's a snake,' and he jumped out of the car immediately," Barry said of her boyfriend.

"I couldn't even believe I grabbed it," Dinger told WBBH. "It was one of those Steve Irwin moments. That's the biggest snake I've ever seen."

But when the python swung its head around, Dinger let go.

"I was like, 'All right, man, you can do whatever you want to do,'" he told the Naples Daily News. "`You're a little bigger than me, so I don't want to mess with you right now.'"

So he called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and then 911. A sheriff's deputy arrived within minutes and located a smaller python about 6-feet long and killed it. A little more searching and they found the larger python the couple first saw. It was an 11-foot snake.

"Something that size could eat my dog," Barry told WBBH.

"I don't like snakes," Dinger told WBBH. "It was a little overwhelming for me...[It's] crazy. So it's kinda scary to think how many more are just across the street."

Indeed, as Barry pointed out, the pythons were "in the middle of the main community that's clearly lit up and there's people everywhere."

What is equally disturbing--and somewhat scary--is the discovery invasive Burmese pythons migrating outside the Everglades, where the unwanted species is disrupting the ecosystem.

"We're going to be seeing a lot more of this in Collier County to be sure," Ian Bartoszek, a Conservancy of Southwest Florida biologist, told the Naples Daily News, adding that it isn't cause for alarm but for vigilance.

Just last week a snake hunter killed a 17-foot, 1-inch python in the Everglades' Big Cypress National Preserve as part of the state's Python Elimination Program.

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