Sunday, November 27, 2022

Scientists have captured the heaviest female Burmese python ever caught in Florida

miami A team of biologists recently captured the heaviest Burmese python ever caught in Florida.

The Conservation of Southwest Florida said in a news release that the python weighed 215 pounds (98 kilograms), was about 18 feet long (5 meters) and contained 122 developing eggs.

Ian Bartozek, wildlife biologist and environmental science project manager for the conservation program, said the team used radio transmitters implanted in male “scout” snakes to study python movements, reproductive behavior and habitat use.

“How do you find a needle in a haystack? You can use a magnet, and that’s how our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around,” Bartoszek said.

The team used a scout snake named Dionysus – or Dione – in an area in the western Everglades.

“We knew he was there for a reason, and the team found him with the greatest woman ever.”

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

An autopsy also found hoof cores in the snake’s digestive tract, implying that an adult white-tailed deer was its last meal.

National Geographic documented the discovery, highlighting the continuing impact of invasive pythons, which are known to breed rapidly and deplete the surrounding native wildlife.

Bartozek said the removal of female pythons plays an important role in disrupting the reproductive cycle.

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

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

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On that section, carcasses have been found with dozens of white-tailed deer inside a Burmese python. Data researchers from the University of Florida have documented 24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and 2 reptile species from the stomachs of pythons.

Before the recent discovery, the largest female ever removed through a conservation program weighed 185 pounds (84 kilograms) and was the heaviest python ever caught in Florida, officials said.

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

Over 600 people from 25 states participated in last year’s challenge.

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