by Adeniyi Abdul
A 17.5 foot Burmese python was discovered last week in the Everglades in Florida and is believed to be the largest ever in the state. The snake was examined by scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History and found to weigh 164.5-pounds, after it was brought there from the Everglades National Park. It was also pregnant with a record 87 eggs.
Burmese pythons are native to south-east Asia, and were originally kept as pets before being released into the wild. “They were here 25 years ago, but in very low numbers and it was difficult to find one because of their cryptic behavior,” Kenneth Krysko, manager of the museum’s herpetology collection 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.”
The reptiles are said to be responsible for the dwindling population of mammals in the Everglades, leading to increased concerns about safety of other animals. “Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America’s most beautiful, treasured, and naturally bountiful ecosystems,” said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marci McNutt in a statement in January this year. Research revealed that the raccoon population declined 99.3%, the opossum population 98.9%, and the bobcat population 87.5%, due to the pythons. This latest discovery is even more worrying for researchers because of the number of eggs discovered in the creature. “I think one of the important facts about this animal is its reproductive capability,” said park wildlife biologist Skip Snow. “There are not many records of how many eggs a large female snake carries in the wild. This shows they’re a really reproductive animal, which aids in their invasiveness.”
Krysko also expressed his concerns, saying, “This thing is monstrous. It’s about a foot wide. It means there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”