Giant python spotted in Florida

A plague of pythons is threatening many animal species in Florida. To catch the snakes, environmentalists pit them against each other.

Biologists in Florida have caught a 98-pound dark burmese python – the heaviest specimen ever in the US state. The female snake was five meters long and had 122 eggs in her abdomen, reports the conservation organization Conservancy of Southwest Florida. In Florida, many native animal species are suffering from a plague of pythons that began in the 1990s.

Back then, the Burmese python was a popular pet species, and there was a large breeding station for the animals in Miami. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed the snake farm and about 1,000 animals escaped to the Everglades, a huge swampy area in southern Florida. There the snakes multiplied rapidly and eat everything they can find: frogs, raccoons, deer, alligators. In the stomachs of captive pythons, the researchers found remains of 24 different species of mammals, 47 species of birds and two species of reptiles. Florida authorities pay hefty premiums for killing pythons.

How biologists catch pythons in Florida

But they are not easy to find in the huge, difficult-to-access Everglades. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, said environmentalist Ian Bartoszek at a press conference: “You would use a magnet and that’s how we use male pythons to find the largest female specimens in the area. They feel like them Males most attracted.”

To do this, the biologists equip the male search snakes with GPS transmitters and release them. If the males stay longer in one place, there is a high probability that they have found a female there. It was the same with the search snake Dionysus: “We knew that he wouldn’t stop there without a reason,” says Ian Bartoszek. “And indeed, we found him with the largest female we’ve spotted so far.” Until then, a specimen weighing 84 kilos held the title of the heaviest snake in Florida.

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