Miami, Jun 22 (EFE).- A team of biologists recently captured the largest python ever found in the US state of Florida, as part of its python removal program.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida announced Wednesday in a press conference that the Burmese python caught in the Everglades was almost 18 feet (5.5 meters) long and weighed 215 pounds (97.5 kilograms).
A necropsy after euthanization revealed that it had 122 eggs in its abdomen, setting another record. The average is 43, the conservancy said.
In addition, an analysis of the snake’s digestive tract found hoof cores, determining that a large adult white-tailed deer – a primary food source for the endangered Florida panther – was the snake’s last meal.
The snake, which are difficult to find in the expanse of the Everglades, was located thanks to a radio transmitter implanted in a male “scout snake,” which the organization use to study python movement, breeding behavior and habitat use, and also lead biologists to large reproductive females, allowing for their removal.
“How do you find the needle in the haystack? You could use a magnet, and in a similar way our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around,” said Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and python project manager, in a press conference.
The scientists tracked a scout snake named Dionysus – or Dion – to a spot in the western Everglades.
“We knew he was there for a reason, and the team found him with the largest female we have seen to date,” Bartoszek said.
The discovery, which was documented by National Geographic, highlights the continuing impact of this invasive species on the habitat of native animals, a species known for its rapid reproduction and threat to surrounding native wildlife.
Eradicating female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the reproductive cycle of these apex predators that wreak havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and consume the food sources of other native species, Bartoszek said.
The Burmese python has no natural predators in the Everglades wetland ecosystem, the largest in North America.
In Florida, the possession and sale of this type of reptile as pets is prohibited and their importation is prohibited across the country.
Burmese pythons are believed to have been introduced from Southeast Asia to the Everglades in the 1970s. EFE