NAPLES, Fla. — A conservancy group caught a Burmese python that set a record for the largest-ever found in Florida’s Everglades.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida announced the catch in a news release, where they explained that the large snake was found in connection with its Burmese python research program. The team of biologists said the female snake was 215 pounds and measured nearly 18 feet long, and had a record 122 eggs inside it.
Catching the massive snake wasn’t easy. Ian Esterling, a biologist, described the experience to the Fort Myers News-Press, saying the animal clubbed him in the eye with her tail.
“It felt like a fist,” Esterling said.
“This could be one of the founding snakes from back then that was intentionally released, escaped pet, who knows?” Ian Bartoszek, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s python project manager, told WINK-TV. “You’re looking at the scale of the problem.”
The number of pythons in the Everglades has increased exponentially in recent years, which has hurt native populations of rabbits, opossum and deer, the Fort Myers News-Press reported.
The Conservancy said its python program was established in 2013, and to date has removed more than 1,000 pythons weighing a total 26,000 pounds from a 100-square-mile area in southwestern Florida. Prior to this python, the previous record was held by a 185-pound python, which was also a female.
Bartoszek told the Fort Myers News-Press there’s no way to know how many more pythons are in the Everglades, but said they’re actively working to get more data to get closer to determining the number. One method researchers have used is placing radio trackers on male pythons, which then lead biologists to the females and offer data about breeding habits, the newspaper reported.
Florida has a python removal program that runs for two weeks in August, where participants compete for prizes, The Associated Press reported. Last year’s challenge featured more than 600 people from 25 states.
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