Florida has a problem with Python. Invasive Burmese pythons love the state’s climate and conditions, and they impact native wildlife, especially in the delicate Everglades wetland ecosystem. Now there’s one less python to worry about out there, thanks to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, an environmental organization working to eliminate snakes from the wild.
On Wednesday, the Conservancy announced that its wildlife biologists had captured the most massive Burmese python ever found in Florida. The female, found in December 2021, was nearly 18 feet (5.5 meters) long and tipped the scales at 215 pounds (97 kilograms). Compare that to ait was the same length but weighed 150 pounds (68 kilograms).
Researchers found the snake through a program that uses radio transmitters implanted in male snakes. “How do you find the needle in the haystack? You can use a magnet, and similarly our male scout snakes are attracted to the largest females in the world,” biologist Ian Bartoszek said in a statement. .
At a press conference, researchers said the snake got into a fight and they had to fight her for 20 minutes before they were able to restrain her.
Captured snakes are euthanized. An examination found 122 developing eggs inside the female. “This discovery sets a new limit for the largest number of eggs a female python can potentially produce in one reproductive cycle,” the organization said, calling it a record-breaking discovery. The snake had also recently dined on an adult white-tailed deer.
National Geographic has released an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the search program and the capture of the giant snake.
The Conservancy has so far captured over 1,000 pythons. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, also operates several python removal programs, including a public contest that rewards python removal with cash prizes.
“The removal of female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the reproductive cycle of these apex predators that wreak havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and take food sources from other native species,” Bartoszek said. “It’s the wildlife problem of our time for South Florida.”