Florida team captures largest female Burmese python to date

The team used radio transmitters transplanted into male scout snakes to study python movements, breeding behavior and habitat use.

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NAPLES, Florida. A team of biologists recently pulled out the heaviest Burmese python ever caught in Florida, officials said.

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The female python weighed 215 pounds (98 kg), was almost 5 meters (18 feet) long and had 122 developing eggs, according to a press release from the Southwest Florida Conservation Authority.

The team used radio transmitters transplanted into male scout snakes to study python movements, breeding behavior and habitat use, said Jan Bartoszek, a wildlife biologist and conservation project manager for the conservation program.

How to find a needle in a haystack? You can use a magnet, and in a similar way, our male scout snakes are attracted to the largest females in the area,” Bartoszek said.

The team used a scout snake named Dionysus – or Dion for short – in the area of ​​the western Everglades.

“We knew he was there for a reason, and the team found him with the largest female we’ve ever seen.”

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Biologist Ian Easterling and intern Kyle Findlay helped capture the female snake and drag her through the woods to a field truck.

The autopsy also found hoof kernels in the snake’s digestive system, meaning that adult white-tailed deer were its last meal.

National Geographic documented the discovery, highlighting the continued impact of invasive pythons, which are known for rapidly breeding and depleting surrounding wildlife.

Bartoszek said the removal of female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the breeding cycle.

“This is a wildlife issue of our time for south Florida,” he said.

This February 2022 Photo By The Conservancy Of Southwest Florida Shows Biologist Jan Bartoszek With A 15-Foot Female Burmese Python Caught Stalking A Male Scout Snake In The Picayune Strand State Forest.
This February 2022 photo by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida shows biologist Jan Bartoszek with a 15-foot female Burmese python caught stalking a male scout snake in the Picayune Strand State Forest. Conservancy of Southwest Florida Photos /AP

Since the python conservation program began in 2013, they have removed more than 1,000 pythons from about 100 square miles (25,900 hectares) in southwest Florida.

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At this site, autopsy found dozens of white-tailed deer inside Burmese pythons. Data scientists at the University of Florida have documented 24 mammal species, 47 bird species, and 2 reptile species from python stomachs.

This February 2018 Photo By The Conservancy Of Southwest Florida Shows Biologist Ian Easterling With A 15-Foot Female Burmese Python Caught Stalking A Male Scout Snake In The Rookery Bay National Estuary Research Preserve In Naples, Florida.  (Conservancy Of Southwest Florida Via Ap)
This February 2018 photo by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida shows biologist Ian Easterling with a 15-foot female Burmese python caught stalking a male scout snake in the Rookery Bay National Estuary Research Preserve in Naples, Florida. (Conservancy of Southwest Florida via AP)

Until the recent discovery, the largest female python seized by the conservation program weighed 185 pounds (84 kilograms) and was the heaviest python caught in Florida at the time, officials said.

The state python removal program will run for two weeks in August. Participants compete for prizes, including $2,500 for catching the most pythons.

More than 600 people from 25 states took part in last year’s challenge.

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