News Column

Huge Burmese Python Caught in Everglades

February 6, 2014

Sonja Isger, The Palm Beach Post

Feb. 05--An 18-foot Burmese python caught Tuesday in the Florida Everglades may set records for size.

It was the second 18-footer discovered in the last year.

Bobby Hill, a python control agent working the Florida Everglades for the South Florida Water Management District, bagged the giant female around noon.

Some workers inspecting levees were the first to spot the reptile sunning on the L-28 levee about five miles north of the Tamiami Trail, said district spokesman Randy Smith. Those workers alerted Hill.

The Miami Herald reports:

Last May, a snake collector named Jason Leon captured what currently ranks as the largest Burmese python found in the wilds of Florida. He spotted it at night along a canal in southeast Miami-Dade and had to slice off its head to finally subdue the powerful creature. The Florida Fish and Wild Conservation Commission verified its total length at 18 feet, 8 inches. The snake, a female, weighed in at 128 pounds.

The previous record, in 2012, was a 17-foot, 7-inch female captured by scientists in Everglades National Park. That snake, pregnant with 87 eggs, weighed just over 164 pounds.

Smith said the python dispatched Tuesday will be sent to the University of Florida, where researchers will determine what she's been eating, if she has eggs, "anything that will provide some insight to how these snakes are moving forward."

Burmese pythons and other non-natives were probably introduced to the Everglades by people dumping their one-time pets. The first reports of python spotting were in the 1980s and are considered a threat to the restoration o the Everglades because they prey on the habitat's natives from wading birds to deer, leaving a "wildlife desert" already void in spots of rabbits and foxes.

In 2013, the state hosted a month-long "Python Challenge" in which nearly 1,500 hunters scoured the waterways hoping to bag the most or biggest snake. But the pythons proved exceedingly elusive.


(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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Original headline: Huge python bagged in the Everglades was second 18-footer caught in last year

Source: (c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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