Florida: 97.5 kg and five meter python captured
A team of biologists recently captured the heaviest Burmese python on record in Florida, officials said.
The female specimen weighed 97.5 kilograms (215 pounds) and was about 5 meters (18 feet) long. Additionally, the python had 122 developing eggs, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida reported in a press release.
The team used radio transmitters implanted in male “scouts” to study the pythons’ movements, reproductive behaviors and habitat use, said Ian Bartoszek, a wildlife biologist and environmental sciences project manager for the conservation program.
“How do you find the needle in the haystack? You can use a magnet. Similarly, our scout males were drawn to the larger females in the area,” Bartoszek said.
The team used a male named Dionysus in an area in the western Everglades.
“We knew it was there for a reason, and the team found it with the largest female we’ve seen to date.”
Biologist Ian Easterling and intern Kyle Findley helped capture the female and carried her out of the swamp to the field vehicle.
During the necropsy, hooves were found in the digestive tract of the snake, which means that an adult white-tailed deer had been its last meal.
National Geographic documented the discovery, highlighting the continuing impact of invasive pythons, known for their rapid reproduction and depleting native wildlife around them.
Bartoszek said the removal of female pythons is critical to stopping the breeding cycle.
“This is the wildlife problem of our time in South Florida,” he said.
Since the Conservancy’s python program began in 2013, more than 1,000 pythons have been removed from an area of about 100 square miles (25,900 hectares) in southwest Florida.
In that time, necropsies have uncovered dozens of white-tailed deer inside Burmese pythons. Researchers at the University of Florida have documented 24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and two species of reptiles in the stomachs of pythons.
Before the recent discovery, the largest python ever documented in the Conservancy’s program weighed in at 185 pounds (84 kilograms), the heaviest ever caught in Florida at the time, according to officials.
The statewide python removal program takes place over two weeks in August. Participants compete for prizes, including $2,500 for whoever catches the most specimens.
More than 600 people from 25 states participated in last year’s challenge.