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Largest ever Burmese python in Florida found in Collier County

The largest Burmese python ever discovered in Florida was captured from the Everglades and brought to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for research. The female python, weighing in at 215 pounds and 18 feet long, had 122 eggs inside of her, which is the largest egg count ever recorded for a python.

The Conservancy’s python program has been conducting research since 2013 to understand the invasive species and has never encountered a python of this size before.

“We feel like it's a win when we can target animals of this size. Remove them from the bioregion, repeat. Each season this crew removes tons of python. This was a two-ton season,” said Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and python project manager for the Conservancy.

The python was found in Collier County.

“The last meal this animal had was a white-tailed deer in Picayune Strand State Forest,” Bartoszek said. The team discovered this during their necropsy by finding hoof cores in the python's digestive track. Researchers estimate the deer was around 75 pounds.

“This team has been radio tracking invasive Burmese pythons for about the last 10 years, learning about their behaviors so we can find out methods to more effectively remove them from the ecosystem,” Bartoszek said.

They found Florida’s largest python to date by using this method. This is done by using male pythons as “scout snakes” to find female pythons in the wild. They tracked and followed one of their scout snakes, Dion, and heard a rustling noise leading them to the large female python.

“We just jumped on, grabbed ahold of it, tried to restrain the head to prevent it from biting us and then probably like wrestled her for about 20 minutes,” said Conservancy wildlife biologist Ian Easterling.

The team said she was strong and put up a good fight by swinging her body around to try to escape.

“She took her tail, actually seemed to like ball it up. It felt like in a fist, and swung at Kyle here. He was able to dodge it, but I looked right into it, she hit me square in the nose,” said Easterling, referring to Kyle Findley, an intern at the Conservancy.

The female python was humanely euthanatized at the Conservancy. Staff with the organization’s python reseach and removal program plan to invite researchers to the Conservancy to contribute to the analysis of this invasive species.

When the team completes their research, they plan to display the python through maceration. Meaning, the python's skeleton will be arranged and glued together to be used as a teaching tool.

Hayley Lemery
The 215 pound python lays next to a skeletal arrangement done by Florida Gulf Coast University's forensic lab of a python. The python will be displayed the same way after the team finishes conducting their research at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, June 22, 2022.

“Here at the Conservancy, we have a native animal hospital. They treat 5,000 native wildlife a year, putting them back in the system,” Bartoszek said. “Meanwhile, we have an invasive apex predator, one of the largest snakes on the planet, that's obviously up to no good. So, we need to be on it. And we need help.”

Bartoszek recommends that if you see a Burmese python, capture a photo and report it, either with the smartphone app “IveGot1” or call the hotline at 1-888-IveGot1 (888-483-4681).

Video footage of this python capture can be viewed here:

Conservancy - Python B-Roll.mp4

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