During the breeding season, which spans December to April, the researchers fly over the Everglades in a small plane to pick up radiolocations for these Judas snakes. Then they trek in to see if the males have found a partner. The flat, grassy terrain is deceptive; it once took Smith eight hours to hike two miles off the road to pick up a python and return. “Every single step, your foot sinks into the muck a little bit, and so it’s just like a suction cup,” he says. “You’re fighting through sawgrass and you’re just beaten and bruised by the time you get back.” When a snake is too remote to be reached on foot, they call in a helicopter.