Can you imagine an 18-foot-long chunky Burmese python slithering past your golf cart in Florida? Could occur! Burmese pythons are not native to Florida, but they have an established population in the Everglades and continue to expand. There are an estimated 30,000 to 150,000 pythons in Florida. The problem, in addition to living with huge snakes, is that they are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.
They prey on the local animals and have eliminated almost all of the rabbits, foxes, raccoons, and possums. In an effort to control the population, researchers try to trap and remove as many female pythons as they can to prevent them from reproducing. Read on to learn about the massive 18-foot Florida python that just became the largest US snake ever found.
What is a Burmese python?
Burmese pythons are large, thick-bodied constrictor snakes. The average size for an adult is 6 to 10 feet long, but some get much larger. They have a base color of tan with outlined black spots all over their bodies. Their heads can be larger than a human hand and you may not be able to fit your hands around the circumference of their bodies.
Burmese pythons are not native to the US, they are from Southeast Asia. Like a constrictor snake, they attack their prey, grasp it with their teeth, and then wrap their long, muscular body around it, squeezing it until the prey dies. They then swallow the prey whole. Burmese pythons are even capable of eating alligators.
If you’re curious about what that looks like, here’s a video of a Burmese python capturing and eating an alligator!
Who found the 18-foot Florida python?
Two researchers and an intern from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida found the 18-foot-long python. Researchers Ian Bartoszek, Ian Easterling, and intern Kyle Findley didn’t just stumble upon this large python. They have been using a system to find females using male pythons equipped with GPS trackers.
How do researchers find Burmese pythons using GPS trackers?
Researchers are focusing on removing more female Burmese pythons because they can have 50 to 100 babies at a time! So they developed a system of using male Burmese pythons to find females and then capture them. By equipping the males with a GPS tracker, they can continue their search to find the females that alert the males by releasing a special pheromone. For this 18-foot-long python, the researchers used an experienced male named Dionysus (Dion) who was likely disappointed in how his romantic evening turned out. Dion was brought back to the research facility to use for a future date night.
How much did the python weigh?
The 18-foot-long Burmese python weighed 215 pounds (97 kilograms).. That explains why the captured photo shows three adults holding the giant snake aloft. They each carried about 70 pounds!
What is the problem with Burmese pythons in Florida?
Burmese pythons are an invasive species. They are killing and eating animals that are native and compete for food with other animals, including some endangered species like the Key Largo rat. According to the USGS Department of the Interior, “In a 2012 study, raccoon populations had declined 99.3%, opossums 98.9%, and bobcats 87.5% since 1997 … The swamp rabbits, cottontails, and foxes have all effectively disappeared.” Because the only predators of pythons are humans and alligators, their numbers have gone unchecked for years and are difficult to control.
What are conservationists doing about invasive Burmese pythons?
Conservationists and researchers are testing multiple strategies to control the population of Burmese pythons in Florida. In addition to the male GPS tracking program, other strategies include driving Everglades highways in search of sunbathers and allowing people to hunt and kill pythons without a permit. They have also organized a python patrol that goes out on regular hunts to locate and remove pythons.
What is the Python Patrol?
The Python Patrol is organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It is a program that includes training available to anyone who wants to learn how to identify and report python sightings or learn how to hunt and humanely remove pythons.
Burmese pythons are non-venomous and do not attack, so they are not particularly dangerous to humans, but there are risks in going out looking for them on purpose. Do you want more information? Check here the training schedule. Virtual trainings are also available.
What is the Florida Python Challenge®?
A smart way to encourage more volunteer hunters is the Florida Python Challenge®. It’s a 10-day contest to see who can catch the most Burmese pythons in Florida. There are prizes for the most caught and the longest. The next competition is coming up, so finish your training so you have time to plan! Mark your calendar for Friday, August 5, 2022 to Sunday, August 14, 2022. First prize for most pythons caught is $2,500, second place is $750, first place for longest python is $2,500 and second place is $750. There is a division of professionals and beginners.
Who won the Florida Python Challenge® last year?
Last year, the prize money was significantly higher due to a generous $10,000 donation from Virtual Business Services. The grand final prize of $10,000 went to Charles Danchton for removing 41 pythons, an average of 4 per day! Juan González removed 8 pythons to receive the $2,500 reward. The longest python caught last year was 15 feet 9 inches by Brandon Call and the longest by a professional was 15 feet 5 inches caught by Dusty Crum. Overall, there were 600 people who participated in the challenge and all together they collected 223 Burmese pythons… not bad!
What is the longest recorded snake in the world?
According to the Guinness World Records, the longest snakes in the world are the reticulated pythons. They can grow to over 20 feet. Fortunately, reticulated pythons don’t live in Florida; They are native to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. the official The world record for the longest snake in the world is held by a reticulated python from Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 1912. The record was 32 feet 9.5 inches (10 m)!
Discover the “Monster” snake 5 times bigger than an anaconda
Every day, AZ Animals sends out some of the world’s most amazing facts from our free newsletter. Do you want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a “snake island” where you are never more than 3 feet from danger, or a “monstrous” snake 5 times the size of an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you will start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.