An hungry man’s drive to pick up takeout Tuesday night came with not one but two pythons on the side.
Kevin Dinger Jr., 31, of East Naples saw the first non-native invader as his girlfriend, Alysa Barry, 26, was turning right off Collier Boulevard north of U.S. 41 on the way to Texas Roadhouse.
They almost ran over what they thought was a branch in the turn lane. Then they noticed it moving.
Dinger jumped out of the Hummer and grabbed the giant snake’s tail before it could slither away, but the snake swung its head around as if to bite. Dinger let go.
“I was like, ‘All right man, you can do whatever you want to do. You’re a little bigger than me so I don’t want to mess with you right now,'” Dinger said.
Instead, he called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and then 911 for help. A sheriff’s deputy arrived within minutes, with two more deputies on the way.
The chances of finding a python in the daylight are not good, given their ability to blend in with grass and brush, but now it was dark, about 6:30 p.m. ET.
One deputy used a thermal imaging camera to try to find the python but only found a few mice scurrying around, Dinger said.
Deputy Eric Bramblet, who also hunts pythons for the South Florida Water Management District, was walking back to his car as the search was winding down when he felt something moving under his feet.
“I moved the grass and out pops a python,” Bramblet said.
Deputies tried to convince Dinger that the snake, about 6 feet long, was the same one he had seen on Collier Boulevard. Dinger insisted it wasn’t. His snake was much larger, maybe 10 or 12 feet long, he said.
“That was a baby compared to the other one,” Dinger said.
featured: Kevin Dinger Jr.
inset: Kevin Dinger Jr.