Catching a “big one” is typically a phrase you’ll hear on a boat during a fishing trip. A three-man team of Florida researchers are using it to describe a Burmese python snake they recently captured in Florida.
Researchers with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida captured a Burmese python that measured nearly 18 feet in length and weighed a whopping 215 pounds. The three-man crew of Ian Bartoszek, Ian Easterling and Kyle Findley located the snake in the Everglades.
The female snake is the largest of its kind located in Florida. A team located a 185-pound Burmese python in June 2021, setting a then-record for the state. Researchers also discovered 122 eggs developing in the snake’s abdomen, another record according to the Miami Herald.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, most Burmese pythons in Florida measure six-to-nine feet in length.
The recently-discovered 215-pound python set the weight record for Florida, but it’s 17.7-foot reach wasn’t quite the longest. A research team captured an 18.8-foot Burmese python in the southern portion of the state in 2020.
How To Catch a Burmese Python Snake
There’s a real strategy to locating and capturing a Burmese python snake in Florida. It’s not quite as simplistic as traveling to the Everglades with a net and binoculars – though you probably guessed that.
Researchers surgically implanted a male snake with a transmitter in an effort to track its movements. They are then able to follow the “scout snakes” to larger female pythons.
“How do you find the needle in the haystack? You could use a magnet, and in a similar way our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around,” Ian Bartoszek said, per the Miami Herald. “This season we tracked a male scout snake named Dionysus, or Dion, to a region of the western Everglades that he frequented for several weeks. We knew he was there for a reason, and the team found him with the largest female we have seen to date.”
Burmese Pythons are Invasive to Florida
Florida is not a natural habitat for the Burmese python snakes. Many believe these creatures were either illegally released into the wild or were pets that escaped throughout the 1990s. Either way, it’s a huge problem in the Florida Everglades.
Since its establishment in 2013, the conservancy python team has removed approximately 1,000 Burmese python snakes in Florida. Scientists estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 of these pythons exist in the wild.
“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,” Ian Bartoszek said. “This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida.”
These snakes prey on an estimated 24 mammal species, 42 bird species and two reptile species native to Florida, according to National Geographic.