‘Nerve-racking.’ How a Miami-area teenager managed to win the Florida python challenge

A South Florida teen is $10,000 richer thanks to some rocking wrangling skills.

Matthew Concepcion, from Palmetto Bay, managed to reel in a whopping 28 snakes to beat out nearly 1,000 other trappers in the annual Florida Python Challenge.

The 19-year-old’s trade secrets included “lots of water, flashlights, Off! spray, long sleeve clothes and maybe a pillow,” the teen told WPLG-CHannel 10.

Congrats Matthew Concepcion, 2022 Florida Python Challenge$10K Ultimate Grand Prize winner, for removing 28 #invasive Burmese #pythons! Thanks to Bergeron Everglades Foundation for providing this award! https://t.co/JQKSk9zXlG #conservation pic.twitter.com/6OK8DhlTtf

— MyFWC (@MyFWC) October 20, 2022

But mostly the way to catch all these reptiles is to put in the time and effort. Matthew told the station he worked roughly 12 hours a day throughout the 10-day competition in the Everglades, from sun up to sun down.

READ MORE: A snake died after eating a centipede in Florida. Take a look

“You’ll start hallucinating out there, just looking,” the Miami Palmetto Senior High alum said of his third time participating in the contest. “It was pretty nerve-racking.”

All that effort paid off. Matthew beat about 1,000 rivals from around the globe to clinch the grand prize money, courtesy of the Bergeron Everglades Foundation nonprofit founded by preservationist Ron Bergeron.

On his TikTok, the outdoors enthusiast posted a photo montage set appropriately to the NSFW hype song “Snakes in the Grass” by rapper Waka Flocka Flame. Matthew wrote to his followers that the overall wrangling experience was “lit,” and included the hashtags #latenight, #allnight and #hardworkpaysoff.

READ MORE: See a Florida cop wrangle a rattlesnake

Beside getting serious swamp cred with his pals, Matthew also helped the environment. The formidable competition is an important one because it helps rid the Sunshine State of the invasive species; 231 in total were caught and removed.

But there’s a long way to go. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 of the non-native snakes are slithering arout the Everglades, where they mess with the ecosystem and have no natural predators.

“It’s just unbelievable what they will ravage,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in announcing the 2022 challenge in June.

As for Matthew’s haul, the biggest catch was about eight feet long. Dustin “Wildman” Crum of Ochopee, star of the Discovery Channel’s “Guardians of the Glades,” snapped up the prize for longest python, which clocked in at just around 11 feet and netted the TV vet $1,500.

For a full list of winners and their prizes, go to www.flpythonchallenge.org.

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