Saturday, 2 July 2022
Business215-pound record: Florida scientists catch state's biggest python

215-pound record: Florida scientists catch state’s biggest python

A group of scientists has caught the biggest Burmese python ever found in Florida, officials announced.

The female python weighed in at 215 pounds (98 kilograms), was nearly 18 feet long (5 meters) and had 122 developing eggs, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said in a news release.

The team used radio transmitters transplanted in male “scout” snakes to study python movements, breeding behaviors and habitat use, said Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and environmental science project manager for the conservancy’s program.

This photo provided by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida shows biologists Ian Bartoszek (L) and Ian Easterling (C) with intern Kyle Findley and a 17.7-foot, 215-pound female Burmese python captured by tracking a male scout snake in Florida, US, Jan. 12, 2022. (AP Photo)

“How do you find the needle in the haystack? You could use a magnet, and in a similar way our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around,” Bartoszek said.

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

“We knew he was there for a reason, and the team found him with the largest female we have seen to date.”

Biologist Ian Easterling and intern Kyle Findley helped capture the female snake and haul it through the woods to the field truck.

A necropsy also found hoof cores in the snake’s digest system, meaning that an adult white-tailed deer was its last meal.

McKayla Spencer (L), and Jan Fore of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), demonstrating a safe capture of a Burmese python at a media event where Florida Gov.  Ron DeSantis announced that registration for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge has opened for the annual 10-day event to be held Aug 5-14, Florida, US, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo)
McKayla Spencer (L), and Jan Fore of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), demonstrating a safe capture of a Burmese python at a media event where Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that registration for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge has opened for the annual 10-day event to be held Aug 5-14, Florida, US, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo)

National Geographic documented the discovery, highlighting the continued impact of the invasive pythons, which are known for rapid reproduction and depletion of surrounding native wildlife.

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

“This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida,” he said.

This photo provided by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida shows biologist Ian Bartoszek with a 15-foot female Burmese python captured by tracking a male scout snake in Picayune Strand State Forest, Florida, US, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo)
This photo provided by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida shows biologist Ian Bartoszek with a 15-foot female Burmese python captured by tracking a male scout snake in Picayune Strand State Forest, Florida, US, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo)

Since the conservancy’s python program began in 2013, they’ve removed over 1,000 pythons from approximately 100 square miles (25,900 hectares) in southwest Florida.

Over that stretch, necropsies have found dozens of white-tailed deer inside Burmese pythons. Data researchers at the University of Florida have documented 24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and 2 reptile species from pythons’ stomachs.

Prior to the recent discovery, the largest female removed through the conservancy’s program weighed 185 pounds (84 kilograms) and was the heaviest python captured at the time in Florida, officials said.

The state’s python removal program runs for two weeks in August. Participants compete for prizes, including $2,500 for capturing the most pythons.

Last year’s challenge involved more than 600 people from 25 states.

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