NAPLES, Fla. – The Conservancy of Southwest Florida discovered and captured the largest python yet found in the state, measuring nearly 18 feet long and weighing 215 pounds, according to a Wednesday news release.
The female Burmese python, an invasive species in Florida, was found by a team of wildlife biologists at the conservancy, the release stated.
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The python had 122 eggs developing inside of it, which the conservancy said set a new limit for the highest number of eggs a python can potentially produce.
Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and environmental science project manager for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, said in a statement that the removal of the invasive pythons is “the wildlife issue of our time” for the region.
“The removal of female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the breeding cycle of these apex predators that are wreaking havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and taking food sources from other native species,” Bartoszek said.
Before this python was found, the largest female python recorded in Florida weighed 185 pounds. It was also removed by the conservancy, the release states.
The conservancy found that the snake’s last meal was an adult white-tailed deer, which is the primary food source of the endangered Florida panther.
The team of biologists found the female python through its research program.
Radio transmitters implanted in male “scout” snakes are used to understand python movements, breeding behaviors and habitat use, according to the news release. The scout snakes can lead biologists to breeding aggregations and reproductive females, where researchers can then remove the females and their developing eggs.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida said it has removed over 1,000 pythons accumulatively weighing more than 26,000 pounds.