The largest ever Florida python at 18-feet long and 215 pounds was captured by wildlife biologists, state officials said on Thursday.
The enormous female snake, an invasive species not native to Florida, was the largest ever found in the state, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida announced.
According to the New York Post, the snake was captured in the Everglades. It took researchers 20 minutes to wrestle the snake into submission.
The python was caught in December but kept in a freezer until a necropsy was performed in April, in which it was discovered that the snake’s last meal was a white-tailed deer. The snake also had 122 eggs inside its abdomen, which was also a record for the most eggs discovered inside a female python during breeding season, the Conservancy said.
“The removal of female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the breeding cycle of these apex predators that are wreaking havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and taking food sources from other native species,” said biologist Ian Bartoszek, the environmental science project manager for the Conservancy. “This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida.”
According to History.com, since the 1980s, owners and breeders of pythons have dumped unwanted snakes across the state, many in the Everglades, with the apex predator overrunning their terrain, causing major damage to the local ecosystem.
So far, the Conservancy has removed over 1,000 pythons in a 100-square mile area of south Florida.
“These efforts are significant in fulfilling our mission of protecting Southwest Florida’s unique natural environment and quality of life by reducing the overall impact on our native wildlife populations,” Bartoszek said.