A Burmese python weighing 215 pounds has been caught and euthanized in Florida.
The snake is the heaviest to ever be captured in the state.
Burmese pythons are an invasive species that threaten native wildlife populations.
A Burmese python weighing 215 pounds and nearly 18 feet long has become the heaviest ever snake captured in Florida.
The reptile, caught in Florida’s Picayune Strand State Forest, wrestled with biologists for 20 minutes before being restrained, authorities said in a press conference.
The snake was about the height of a giraffe if stretched out vertically, wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek said.
The python was captured and euthanized, which biologists in Florida do to prevent the snakes from consuming native wildlife and disturbing the ecosystem.
During the python’s necropsy, biologists discovered that the snake had 122 eggs developing inside her and hooves in her digestive tract, which suggested her most recent meal had been an entire adult white-tailed deer.
The findings also set a new limit for the highest number of eggs a female python can potentially produce in a breeding cycle.
“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.
“This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida.”
The record-breaking snake was tracked using a male “scout” snake named Dionysus, who biologists said was attracted to the larger snake like a “magnet.”
Burmese pythons are native to southeast Asia and have become pests in Florida due to the exotic pet trade industry of the 1980s.
“The Python Challenge”
The snakes have overrun the Florida Everglades after being released into the wild by irresponsible pet owners many years ago.
As an invasive species with no natural predators, they have been able to out-compete native species and threaten the region’s biodiversity.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s python program has removed over 1,000 pythons from around 100 sq miles in southwest Florida since being established in 2013.
Florida also holds an annual “Python Challenge,” which asks the public to help hunt pythons for two weeks in August.
Participants can win prizes including $2,500 for most snakes captured and $1,500 for the longest snake caught.
Last year’s challenge drew in more than 600 people from 25 states, and the winner captured 223 pythons. All snakes must be killed humanely.
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