NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
A record-breaking find has crept out Naples, Florida.
A team of researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida caught a 215-pound, 17.7 foot Burmese python at the beginning of the new year.
Ian Bartoszek, a wildlife biologist and python project manager at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, revealed to Fox News Digital how big a find this was for the Everglades region, as the python is the heaviest ever.
“This is the biggest snake we’ve caught,” he said.
“And as far as I know, this is the largest weight ever caught in Florida in the invasive area.”
Bartoszek said he “always wondered” if he and his team – including biologist Ian Easterling and intern Kyle Findley – would catch a snake over 200 pounds.
Then they stumbled upon this female python – which exceeded all their expectations.
“We put it on the scale, we looked at the number, and I think there was a collective disbelief,” he said. “There was some tile in the background – like, ‘No way’.”
“We knew she was great,” he said. “We just didn’t seem to realize she was that big.”
The python was eventually towed out of the forest and killed humanely.
The biologist remembered the first struggle to break the massive snake.
He explained that she “threw her weight around” and even wrapped the end of her tail into a “fist” and took a slap at Findley.
“[She] missed him, “Bartoszek said.
“But Ian Easterling was at the other end – and she slapped him in the face with her tail to tell him about it. So it was funny.”
The biologists eventually dragged the python out of the forest and killed her humanely so that it could be studied for future scientific research and preserved for educational use.
“She really is a snake on the next level,” he said. “We have great respect for these animals.”
Not only did this Burmese python break records for weight, but the snake also had a total of 122 developing eggs – as Bartoszek said, it is “far far” in the non-native area.
“It was a record in itself.”
Remains of hoof nuclei were found from the inside of the snake – indicating that she most likely ate an adult white-tailed deer as her last meal.
This particular discovery is exactly the reason why scientists have attempted to capture and kill the invasive species, as their appetite for southern Florida wildlife endangers the entire ecosystem.
“Research partners at the University of Florida have documented 24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and two species of reptiles from the abdomen of Burmese pythons across the invaded area,” the biologist said.
“So that’s the definition of a generalist apex predator.”
Bartoszek said it is “not surprising” to find these remains, since Burmese pythons are big game hunters; but white-tailed deer are also the primary prey for the Florida panther – an endangered species.
“They are not interested in us. They are interested in our original wildlife.”
“The question I usually ask is, ‘What do you think it would take in native wildlife to make a snake weighing $ 250?'”
“She could probably be over 15, maybe even over 20 … and she’s been out there in the countryside and been naughty all that time,” he said.
“And they’re interested in our native wildlife – and we’re interested in removing them from the ecosystem.”
The invasive species is native to Southeast Asia; there they have been given a vulnerable status as they are often harvested for meat, medicine and leather.
So how did they get to the Everglades? Bartoszek said the reasons include deliberate release of pythons, escaped pets and / or severe weather conditions that are destroying breeding facilities.
Bartoszek said his team has conducted a radio telemetry survey of invasive Burmese pythons in the area over the past 10 years – out of the 20 he has been involved in the conservation.
This study has offered a “huge amount” of information about snake behavior. Bartoszek said they have used this against the animal to remove more than 26,000 pounds of python snakes – more than 1,000 snakes in an area less than 100 square kilometers.
The team has been able to track specifically reproductive female pythons with an approach called scout snake methodology.
This method requires the surgical implantation of radio transmitters in male pythons that have been spotted with females – which then, as Bartoszek described, turn into a one-sided game of “hide and seek”.
“They would be 0% detectable without using a python to find a python,” he said.
“We have an army of snakes working with us.”
Bartoszek explained that it is unlikely for residents of Florida to encounter a Burmese python. He also said there is no evidence that they are interested in harming people.
“They are not interested in us,” he said. “They are interested in our native wildlife.”
“I always say that I am more afraid of driving here on the roads during [breeding] season than I’m breaking with the Burmese python. “
For more on this story, visit natgeo.com.