WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — The biggest Burmese python ever caught in Florida is being studied by the University of Florida after being found in Everglades National Park.
The snake, measuring 17 feet, 7 inches long and 164½ pounds, was also pregnant with a record 87 eggs.
Scientists said the python’s stats show just how pervasive the invasive snakes, which are native to Southeast Asia, have become in South Florida.
“It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild,” said Kenneth Krysko, a snake expert at the Florida Museum of Natural History, where the euthanized snake was brought. “”There’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”
Researchers and scientists at the University of Florida are curating the body of a 17 foot, 165 pound Burmese Python. Inside the body 87 fully developed python eggs were discovered.
“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” said Florida Museum herpetology collection manager Kenneth Krysko. “It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”
The snake was captured as part of a long term project with the U.S. Department of Interior to research methods on managing Florida’s growing burmese python problem.
“Finding developed eggs, fully developed eggs in a 17 foot snake says this environment is conducive to reproduction, said Ron Mcgill of Zoo Miami. “It saying they can reproduce these eggs, they can reproduce young and they can do it in great numbers.”
Many experts believe the python population exploded after Hurricane Andrew when small pythons used as pet trade animals escaped from several warehouses in South Dade.
While these constrictor snakes can kill, it’s our environment, experts say, they’re hurting the most.
“When you have an animal — a predator that comes in and throws that balance off it really can have catastrophic effects on the environment, said Mcgill.
These pythons are known to prey on native birds, deer, bobcats, alligators and other large animals.
The Burmese is one of the deadliest and most competitive predators in South Florida. With no known natural predator, population estimates for the python range in the thousands.
“They were here 25 years ago, but in very low numbers and it was difficult to find one because of their cryptic behavior,” Krysko said.
“Now you can go out to the Everglades nearly any day of the week and find a Burmese python. We’ve found 14 in a single day.”
Burmese Pythons were determined to be an established species in 2000. The rapid population growth led to recent state laws prohibiting people from owning Burmese pythons as pets or transporting the snakes across state lines without a federal permit.
If you see a python, call 1-800-IVE-GOT1 and a trained trapper will remove the snake.