Largest Snake ever Recorded in Florida Captured – with 87 Eggs
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in
Florida have captured a 17-foot-7-inch-long, 164.5-pound Burmese python in , a record for the state. Scientists found out later that the snake also contained a state record, 87 eggs.
Everglades National Park
The animal was brought to the Florida Museum of Natural History for examination as part of a long-term project with the U.S. Department of the Interior to research methods for managing the state’s invasive Burmese python problem. Burmese pythons are known to prey on native birds, posing an additional and growing threat to some populations already in trouble. They have also been recorded preying on deer, bobcats, alligators, and other large animals.
Between 2003 and 2008, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution,
South Florida Natural Resources Center and the examined the snake’s predation of the area’s birds.
University of Florida
The scientists collected 343 Burmese pythons in
. Eighty-five of these snakes had bird remains in their intestinal tracts. From these remains the team identified 25 species of birds by comparing feathers and bone fragments with specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. The results reflected a wide variety of species, from the 5-inch-long House Wren to the 4-foot-long Great Blue Heron. Four of the species identified (Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis and Limpkin) are listed as “species of special concern” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The team also identified the remains of a Wood Stork, which is a federally endangered species.
Everglades National Park
“This new record snake demonstrates dramatically how well these animals have adapted to the
Everglades and the danger they pose to birds and other native wildlife,” said George Wallace, Vice-President of American Bird Conservancy.
Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese python is one of the deadliest and most competitive predators in
South Florida. This and other exotic snakes found in the region are the result of pet owners accidentally or intentionally releasing them into the wild. The first python was found in the Everglades in 1979, and with no known natural predators and vast areas of available habitat that facilitates their spread and makes eradication extremely difficult, the population has grown dramatically. The Burmese python was determined to be an established species in 2000, and today, population estimates today range from the thousands to hundreds of thousands.
A USGS study published in January 2012 revealed drastic declines in the number of mid-sized mammals in the
Everglades that may be associated with the rise in the invasive snake population. The most severe declines, including a nearly complete disappearance of raccoons, rabbits, and opossums, have occurred in the remote southernmost regions of the park, where pythons have been established the longest.
Previous records for Burmese pythons captured in the wild were 16.8 feet long and 85 eggs. Following scientific investigation, the new record snake will be mounted for exhibition at the Florida Museum of Natural History for about five years, and then returned for exhibition at
. Everglades National Park