The most important Burmese python ever seen in Florida has been found, lured out of its hiding place within the Everglades by researchers who used one other python as bait, Nationwide Geographic reported (opens in new tab).
The gargantuan snake was a feminine, measuring almost 18 ft (5.4 meters) lengthy and weighing 215 kilos (97 kilograms) — 30 kilos (13.6 kg) greater than the next-largest python ever discovered within the state. Most Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) which can be present in Florida vary between 6 and 10 ft (1.8 and three m) lengthy, though of their native habitats in Southeast Asia, the snakes generally attain 18 ft lengthy (5.4 m) and the most important can attain lengths of 20 ft (6 m) or extra, in line with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee (opens in new tab).
Since being launched in Florida within the Seventies, the invasive pythons have bred efficiently within the southern areas of the state, the place they prey on many native birds and mammals, in addition to the occasional alligator or pet canine.
Regardless of being bigger than most of Florida’s native snake species, Burmese pythons are extraordinarily tough to identify throughout the huge marshlands, woodlands and subtropical forests of the Everglades and adjoining areas. In an effort to cut back these invasive populations by drawing reproductively energetic females out of hiding, python trackers on the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, a Naples-based group, implant GPS trackers inside male pythons after which ship these “scout snakes” slithering into the wild, in line with Nationwide Geographic.
“Massive reproductive feminine pythons are crucial to take away from these ecosystems,” as a result of they’re disproportionately able to producing many offspring, Sarah Funck, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee, informed Nationwide Geographic.
A 12-foot-long (3.7 m) scout snake named Dionysus — nicknamed Dion — served as bait for the record-setting feminine that the crew captured, again in December 2021.
At the moment, the crew observed Dion had stationed himself in a single specific location close to Naples, throughout the western Everglades’ ecosystem. After they went to verify on their scout snake, they discovered him coiled close to a monstrous feminine; after an intense wrestling match, the researchers managed to wrangle the large feminine right into a bag, which they then secured in a bath and transported to their analysis facility. (Dion, in the meantime, survived the encounter and continued scouting for the Conservancy.)
After euthanizing the feminine snake, the crew carried out a necropsy on the hefty python. Inside its physique, they discovered a file 122 egg “follicles” — roughly spherical buildings that mature into eggs as soon as fertilized. Within the snake’s digestive tract, they discovered bits of fur, clumps of dissolved bone and a bit of a hoof, proof that the python’s final meal was an grownup white-tailed deer.
Based mostly on related necropsies performed up to now, scientists have discovered that Burmese pythons prey on an estimated 24 mammal species, 47 hen species and two reptile species within the state of Florida, in line with Nationwide Geographic.
“These pythons have the power to completely alter the ecosystem, and I’d say they most likely have already got,” Kristen Hart, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Analysis Heart and a collaborator with the conservancy crew, informed Nationwide Geographic.
Learn extra in regards to the record-breaking python at natgeo.com (opens in new tab).
Initially revealed on Reside Science.