Plants and Animals

Record-Breaking 18-Foot Whopper Is Heaviest Burmese Python Ever Caught In the US

Record-Breaking 18-Foot Whopper Is Heaviest Burmese Python Ever Caught In the US

According to National Geographic, the biggest Burmese python ever recorded in Florida has been discovered. It is almost 5 meters (nearly 18 feet) long from tail to snout and weighs a humbling 97 kilos (215 pounds). In the warm wetlands of south Florida, Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) have established a home. However, contrary to what their name implies, this species is invasive and originates from Southeast Asia.

The species is said to have arrived in Florida in the 1970s, perhaps as exotic pets. The population then saw a growth spurt in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew destroyed a facility for raising snakes and released an undetermined number of pythons into the wild. In and around Florida’s Everglades, monstrous-sized pythons reaching 5.2 meters (17 feet) in length have been spotted recently, but this find is reportedly a record-breaker. Back in 2020, two Florida hunters killed a Burmese python that was 5.7 meters (18.75 feet) long, but it weighed just 47.2 kilos, which is a lot less (104-pounds).

In fact, it seems to be the biggest Burmese python specimen that has ever been spotted outside of its native Southeast Asia area. The enormous female python was located by a team from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida with the aid of a male who had been fitted with a GPS tracking device.

In an effort to manage this invasive species, conservationists frequently employ this technique to locate huge females, who frequently engage in sexual activity. The big female was eventually identified, carefully placed in a tub, and brought back to the lab where it was chemically put to death under the watchful eye of a veterinarian. When biologists were shown the specimen, they found it difficult to accept what they were seeing.

Kristen Hart, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and a member of the conservation team, told National Geographic, “When he opened the freezer.” I undoubtedly had a jaw-dropping moment. For the scientists, the python’s inside was just as fascinating. They discovered a record of 122 egg “follicles” at this location, which are python proto-eggs with the potential to develop into eggs after fertilization. An adult white-tailed deer, probably the snake’s final meal, was also found in her stomach together with its hair, hooves, and other remains.

Even though the animal is lovely, it poses serious issues for nearby wildlife since it feeds on a wide range of mammals, birds, and even alligators, upsetting local food chains and the ecology. The number of Burmese pythons in Florida is unknown, however since 2000, state wildlife authorities have killed or removed more than 15,000 pythons. This ground-breaking discovery demonstrates how crucial Florida environmentalists believe it is to maintain control of this enormous yet extremely hazardous species. The ecosystem might be completely changed by these pythons, and Hart believes that it has already happened.