It wasn’t a snakeskin belt around those flea market pants.
It was an actual snake.
Nearly eight feet long. About 40 pounds. A bulge in its belly from a good meal.
A customer rummaging through a stack of jeans, T-shirts and shorts got more than she bargained for when she came across the Burmese python Sunday morning at a Homestead flea market.
She didn’t know what to make of it at first.
“It’s a good thing she didn’t grab it,” said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Lt. Scott Mullen, explaining that pythons have more than 100 sharp teeth and a mean bite — but they are not venomous.
The customer quickly alerted the booth owner at the market, 272 Krome Ave., who then called fire-rescue.
“It was looking for a cozy place to digest its meal,” Mullen said.
Mullen, a member of Miami-Dade’s Venom One Unit, said when he got to the market the snake was coiled among the goods.
The snake likely had no trouble slithering its way into the clothes at the open-air market, with a tarp covering the booth’s clothing table. Pythons tend to look for dark, warm spots to hang out and digest.
Mullen said it’s common this time of year to find pythons in Homestead as fields are cleared for harvest. And rainy weather has also ousted snakes from their underground nooks.
“They are nocturnal creatures and come out at night looking for food and then look for a place to rest during the day,” he said.
So how does one remove a python from a comfy nest amid flea-market clothing?
Mullen gently reached in and grabbed the snake, which weighed about 35-40 pounds, without anyone getting hurt or the clothes getting ruined.
“They were very happy to see it go,” he said.
The python was handed over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
What now for the flea-market snake? Likely euthanasia. And a chance to be a real snakeskin belt.