An 18.2-foot-long Burmese python weighing 150 pounds was ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ on Tuesday in the Florida Everglades, according to the state’s wildlife officials.
Workers with the South Florida Water Management District often run across the invasive snakes as part of their daily routine inspecting and maintaining canals, pump stations and the like. But this one was something even for the grizzled crew of snake runner-acrossers.
Randy Smith, a spokesperson for the South Florida Water Management District, told Megan Gannon of LiveScience that this female python could break the record for the largest Burmese python ever seen on state-owned lands. He said that the snake, which likely weighs well over 100 pounds, will be sent to the University of Florida, where biologists will determine its length and weight.
“It looks to be about 18 feet,’’ said Smith. “It could very well be a state record.’’
That record, which stands at 18-feet, 8 inches and 128 pounds, was set by a snake ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ last year by snake collector Jason Leon. Despite the snake’s size, it’s not the biggest recorded in Florida.
The everglades’ waterways have been found to be home to some of the largest snakes ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ in south Florida. The cold-ʙʟᴏᴏᴅᴇᴅ creatures are often spotted warming their bodies in the sun on rocky embankments.
Burmese pythons can grow to about 23 feet and are native to South Asia. They found their way to Florida decades ago through people who imported them as pets. Many owners underestimate how large the python will grow, and sometimes they let the snakes loose when they can no longer take care of them. Female pythons have the ability to lay 100 eggs, and the snakes multiply quickly.
That has led the python to ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛᴇɴ the biodiversity of the Everglades. The mammal and bird populations in the Everglades began to decline around the time that pythons started to proliferate in the area, according to a 2012 article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Therefore, In January, Florida held a statewide challenge that incentivized residents to ᴋɪʟʟ pythons by offering cash prizes for the most snakes ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ and the longest one brought in.