According to The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, an 18-foot, 215-pound Burmese python has been captured in Florida.
The non-profit organization announced the find on Thursday, June 22, and reports that the female also carried a record number of eggs: 122 developed in her abdomen.
The average is 50 to 100 eggs per clutch, according to data from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
As for size comparisons, Burmese pythons caught in Florida have an average of between 6 and 9 feet, though one of about 18 feet is considered the state tallest record. A weight for that snake was not provided by the state.
Conservation officials say the huge 215-pound snake was discovered using a program that captures male pythons, equips them with radio transmitters and tracks their movements. These “reconnaissance snakes” then lead researchers to “large reproductive females” and their nests.
“How do you find the needle in the haystack? You could use a magnet, and in a similar way our male Boy Scout snakes are attracted to the largest females out there,” wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek said in a press release.
“This season we followed a male Boy Scout snake named Dionysus, or Dion, to a region of the western Everglades that he visited for several weeks. We knew he was there for a reason and the team found him with the biggest female we’ve seen yet. have seen.”
The staggering number of eggs found with the female “sets a new limit on the highest number of eggs a female python can possibly produce,” the conservation organization reports.
A necropsy on the female snake also revealed that the last meal was an adult white-tailed deer, conservation officials said. Pythons are known to consume “24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and 2 species of reptiles,” according to data from the University of Florida.
“Removing female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the breeding cycle of these apex predators that wreak havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and diminish food resources from other native species,” Bartoszek said. “This is the wildlife issue of our time for South Florida.”
Dating back to 2013, the conservancy python program is credited with removing 1,000 pythons from 100 square miles of southwest Florida. Its broader mission focuses on environmental issues in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.
National Park Service officials report first removal of a python in the Everglades came in 1979† It is believed that the snakes were introduced through the exotic pet trade, either when the pets escaped or were freed by owners.
As the threat to the environment has increased, Florida has put in place a program that allows pythons to be “humanely killed,” FWC says.