Feb 05, 2014 10:46 AM EST
18 Foot Python Captured In The Everglades Barely A Dent Into The Invasive Species' Southern Reign
Many burmese pythons continue to invade the Everglades of Florida, feasting off the area's native species (such as deer, foxes, and rabbits) and leaving behind a "wildlife desert," according to the Palm Beach Post. At least python controllers caught one of the biggest ones in the region's history, an 18 footer found Tuesday on a levee five miles north of a trail through the Everglades.
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Bobby Hill, a python control agent, made the capture -- and the kill. Burmese pythons, released in the 1980's by pet owners, are an invasive species and thus their elimination is considered an ecologically positive act. In fact, the region launched a python hunting contest earlier this year, though it yielded few results. (There's a reason pythons are labeled invasive species: they're highly adaptive to the area and blend in capably.)
The full measurements on Hill's catch haven't yet been released, which means it still has a chance to tie the record for the area's longest python ever documented, set earlier this year at 18 feet, 8 inches and 126 pounds (and so unruly its captor had to slice off its head to end the battle), according to the Palm Beach Herald. If this one is pregnant, it also has a good chance at breaking the weight record, which is at least 164 pounds dating back to a 17-foot-7 inch python pregnant with 87 eggs (would that have counted as 88 in the Python Challenge?).
The dead python will be sent to the University of Florida for examination into what's it's been eating, how it's been surviving, where it's been living, the state of its health, and "anything that will provide some insight to how these snakes are moving forward," according to UF researchers.
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Pythons originated in Africa, Australia, and Asia, but have thrived around the globe. Burmese pythons are actually considered endangered in some of their native lands, but for reasons scientists are still trying to determine, they've flourished in the south, where they will continue to do so unless their numbers are reduced, according to Paw Nation.