Giant Florida Burmese python had hooves in its stomach and was carrying 122 eggs

A giant Burmese python—the largest ever found in the Florida Everglades—was found with hooves in its belly and carrying 122 eggs.

The length of the snake was about 18 feet and weight was 215 pounds, National Geographic informed of. Burmese pythons can reach an average size of 8 to 10 feet, although they can become much larger in rare cases.

Following its capture, an autopsy found that the female snake had hoof cores in its digestive tract, meaning her last meal was a white-tailed deer.

The snake was also carrying a “record number” of 122 eggs, meaning she was a reproductively active female – just what the researchers were hoping to find.

Researchers Ian Bartoszek (left), Ian Easterling, and intern Kyle Findley (right) kept and photographed a record-breaking female Burmese python weighing 215 pounds and measuring 17.7 feet in length in their lab in Naples, Florida.
Maggie Steber, National Geographic

The female was caught in December by a team of python trackers from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

The researchers were “close to speechless” when they first weighed the female.

“I’m reading 215 pounds,” said Ian Bartozek, a wildlife biologist and manager of the python project, at the time of the discovery. “very nice.”

An intern on the project, Kyle Findley told National Geographic That at first he felt that the scale was broken.

“That was kind of a line in the sand. We wondered if we’d ever cross 200 pounds,” Bartoszek recounted. National Geographic, “It raised the bar.”

Burmese pythons are an invasive species to Florida. They were first introduced to the environment in the 1970s – it is likely that they were domesticated animals released into the wild. Since then, they have been seriously affecting the native ecosystem. Since their introduction, they have feasted on native wildlife such as the white-tailed deer, making it a major issue in the conservation of wetlands.

Researchers at the Conservation of Southwest Florida were specifically looking for large, reproductively active females at the time of the discovery—they aim to control the population by eliminating the number of pythons being hatched in the Everglades.

To do this they used another male “scout snake” to lure the female out of her hiding place. According to National GeographicIt would be nearly impossible to find such a large, reproductively active female without using this method – males are able to smell other female snakes from miles away.

About 15,000 pythons have been killed or removed from the Everglades by Florida Fish and Wildlife since 2000. But scientists don’t know how many more may be hidden in the Everglades.

“It’s the ten million dollar question,” Bartoszek told National Geographic. “We don’t even know the order of magnitude … the Everglades is a haystack, and [eggs] There are needles. We use a magnet to find the needle.”

Once this python was found, the veterinarians put it to death. The researchers then performed an autopsy on the animal.

The size of the snakes captured by the researchers is important in managing the population. According to Sarah Funk, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, large breeding females are “very important” to remove from the ecosystem.

And the python wasn’t just big in length—its muzzle measured about six inches to the back of its skull. The widest part of its body measured 25 inches.

Python
Researcher Ian Bartozek sifts through dozens of proto eggs while performing an autopsy on the largest female Burmese python ever discovered in Florida. The team counted 122 of these “coupes”, another record-breaking tally.
Maggie Steber, National Geographic)

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