Many dangers may be associated with an abandoned missile base, but perhaps the least likely is an infestation of giant snakes.
Nevertheless, that's what a group of collaborators encountered as they delved into a a relic of Cold War history.
USA TODAY reports that the snakes, pythons, were captured in February through a partnership between researchers, public officials and Irula tribesmen to hunt down the predators.
“Hopefully, we can manage or eradicate an invasive species that is wreaking havoc on the ecosystem,” Frank Mazzotti of the University of Florida said.
In all, the groups found four large snakes including a female python that was nearly 16 feet long. The Nike Hercules missile firng range has been closed for 30 years according to the U.S. Fishing and Wildlife Service reports. It's now part of a 6,500-acres refuge.
The crews used specially trained dogs to sniff out the large snakes who found the base to be a perfect hideaway.
UF News also reports that they brought in a special tribe specializing in tracking and capturing these creatures.
“The job of the tribesmen is to find the snakes, catch them and teach us how to do it better,” Mazzotti told the university’s UF News. “They are better at finding snakes than anybody else in the world.”
"Snakes like deep, dark places," Crocodile Lake refuge manager Jeremy Dixon said.
Officials said a steady food supply of black rats and feral cats also made the place even more like home for these serpentine predators.
But USA TODAY reports that the big fear now is that they could thrive even further south - having already devastated the Everglades. Some were even known to have eaten the areas other apex predator, the Florida Alligator.
In fact, the four pythons this group found are believed to h ave come from the Everglades.