A team of wildlife biologists in the US has discovered and managed to capture the largest Burmese python ever found in the state of Florida. About 18 feet in length, the female serpent weighed 215 pounds or approx. 97.5 kg and 112 eggs were found to be carried. The python was caught in December last year by biologists from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in the Everglades wetland area. However, zeroing in on the largest reptile was not easy for the researchers.
As part of their research program, biologists attach radio transmitters to their male ‘scout’ snakes and monitor their reproductive behavior, movements and habitat use. These scout snakes help researchers find breeding aggregations and giant breeding female snakes.
“How do you find a needle in a haystack? You can use a magnet, and just like that, our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around,” said Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and environmental science project manager protection for.
Once detected, biologists then proceed to remove the breeding female along with the eggs she developed from the wild. For their greatest catch, biologists tracked down their male scout named Dionysus, or Dione, who took them to an area in the western Everglades. The snake had been frequenting the area, leading biologists to suspect that there may be a female python.
Their suspicions turned out to be true as Scout not only gave birth to a female snake, but the largest snake found to date, Florida Rel. The giant python was then taken for autopsy where researchers found that 122 eggs were developing in the snake’s stomach.
In addition, during an assessment of the snake’s digestive contents, biologists found hoof cores inside it. This indicated that the reptile ate an adult white-tailed deer in its last meal.
The Burmese python is considered an invasive species in Florida which means it is not native to that environment and affects other species in the ecosystem. “Removal of female pythons is instrumental in disrupting the reproductive cycle of these apex predators that are wreaking havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and taking food sources from other native species,” Bartozek highlights.
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