18-foot, 215-pound Burmese Python found in the Everglades
By: Tina Wu
Recently, the Conservancy of South West Florida captured a humongous female Burmese Python. The snake carried 122 eggs and contained a not-yet-digested 40-pound adult white-tailed deer. Burmese Pythons are an invasive species in Florida, and were originally shipped from Southeast Asia to the U.S. to be pets.
Many snakes that were brought to the U.S. were placed in breeding buildings. When the Class 5 Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, the destruction of these facilities released many snakes into the wild, including Burmese Pythons. The species is capable of mass-breeding, which leads creates danger for species native to Florida.
“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. This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida,” said the Conservancy’s environmental science project manager, Ian Bartoszek. Burmese Pythons mainly eat deer, which is also a main source of food for Florida panthers which are at risk of extinction.
Florida officials have stopped trying to put an end to the living reptiles. Instead, they plan to reduce the amount of new snakes that are born. They use methods such as putting a radio transmitter into a male snake that will lead conservationists to larger, female snakes. Such male snakes are called “scouts.” Male snakes are especially attracted to female snakes that are larger in size than they are. The “scout” who found the record-breaking creature is called Dionysus, or Dion for short. Dion was also attracted to four more Burmese pythons this year. Not only do these snake experts use male pythons, they also have dogs that are trained to smell snakes. Florida also assembles a yearly competition and asks citizens to hunt down as many snakes as possible. The snakes that are caught can be exchanged as for money. The 2021 competition helped extract 223 Burmese pythons from the food chain in the Everglades.