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A record-breaking discovery has emerged from Naples, Florida.
A team of researchers from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida caught a 215-pound, 17.7-foot Burmese python early in the new year.
Ian Bartozek, a wildlife biologist and python project manager with the Conservation of Southwest Florida, told Fox News Digital how prominent it was for the Everglades region, noting that the python is the heaviest on record.
“This is the biggest snake we have caught,” he said.
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“And to my knowledge, it is the largest by weight ever caught at offensive range in Florida.”
Bartoszek said he “always wonders” whether he and his team – including biologist Ian Easterling and intern Kyle Findley – will catch a snake weighing more than 200 pounds.
Then they stumbled upon this female dragon – which exceeded all their expectations.
“We put it on the scale, we looked at the numbers and I think there was a collective distrust,” he said. “Something was shouting in the background – like, ‘No way.'”
“We knew she was big,” he said. “I guess we just didn’t realize she was that big.”
The python was eventually pulled out of the forest and humanely euthanized.
Biologists largely recall the early struggle to wrestle the snake.
He elaborated that he “thrown his weight around” and even swung the end of his tail into a “fist” and took a swipe at Findly.
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,[She] Missed him,” Bartoszek said.
“But Ian Easterling was on the other end — and he punched him in the face with his tail to tell him about it. So, it was fun.”
Biologists eventually pulled the python out of the wild and humanely euthanized it so that it could be studied for future scientific research and preserved for educational outreach.
“He really is a next level snake,” he said. “We have great respect for these animals.”
Not only did this Burmese python break the weight record, but the snake also had a total of 122 developing eggs—which Bartozek called the “farthest” in the non-native category.
“It was a record in itself.”
Hoof remains were recovered from the inside of the snake – indicating that it ate an adult white-tailed deer as its last meal.
This specific finding is precisely why researchers have sought to capture and put down invasive species, as their appetite for South Florida wildlife is threatening the entire ecosystem.
“Research partners from the University of Florida have documented 24 species of mammal, 47 species of birds and two reptile species from the stomachs of Burmese pythons,” the biologist said.
“So that’s the definition of a generalist apex predator.”
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Bartoszek said the finding of these remains is “not surprising”, as Burmese pythons are big game hunters; But white-tailed deer are also the primary prey source for the Florida panther – an endangered species.
“They are not interested in us. They are interested in our native wildlife.”
“The question I usually ask is, ‘What do you think it took native wildlife to create a snake that weighed 250 pounds?'”
“She might be over 15 years old, maybe even over 20… and she’s been out on the scene for being naughty for much of 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 are given a vulnerable position, as they are often over-harvested for meat, medicine and leather.
So how did they get to the Everglades? Bartoszek said reasons include the intentional release of pythons, escaped domesticated animals and/or severe weather conditions that are eroding breeding facilities.
Bartoszek said that for the past 10 years – 20 of the 20 he has been with the stereotype – his team has conducted a radio telemetry study of invasive Burmese pythons in the area.
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This study has offered an “tremendous amount” of information on snake behavior. Bartoszek said he has used it against the animal to remove more than 26,000 pounds of pythons — more than 1,000 snakes in an area of less than 100 square miles.
Team Scout is able to track exclusively breeding female pythons with an approach called the snake method.
This method requires the surgical implantation of radio transmitters into male pythons that have been observed with females – which then, as Bartoszek described, turns into a one-sided game of “hide-and-seek”. .
“They will be 0% detectable without having to use a python to find a dragon,” he said.
“We have an army of snakes working with us.”
Bartoszek explained that it is unlikely for Florida residents to encounter Burmese pythons. He also said that there is no evidence that they are interested in harming humans.
“They’re not interested in us,” he said. “They are interested in our native wildlife.”
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“I always say that driving on the roads makes me more afraid of [breeding] Compared to the season I’ve been wrestling with the Burmese python.”
For more information on this story, visit natgeo.com.