In December 2021, American researchers managed to capture the largest Burmese python ever observed in the state of Florida. The animal, whose species is considered invasive, was euthanized.
Eabout 5.4 meters long for 97 kilos. As we learn National Geographic in an article posted on Tuesday, June 21, the largest Burmese python ever seen in Florida was captured last December by three researchers from the Conservancy of Southwest Floridaan organization based in the city of Naples and whose goal is to “protecting the natural environment and the unique quality of life” of the southeastern US state.
The purpose of the maneuver? Euthanize the creaturewhose species is now considered invasive for the local ecosystem. “It is very important to eliminate large breeding female pythons from these ecosystems”explains Sarah Funck, a biologist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
An invasive species that disrupts the ecosystem
And getting your hands on this gigantic female python was not easy. To do this, the researchers used another “scout” snake as bait to spot the animal, lurking in the heart of the Picayune Strand forest in the Everglades. They then went to meet him, and succeeded in putting the python in a bag at the cost of a merciless struggle. Then, the female was transported to their research center where she was euthanized, and finally frozen.
A necropsy was then conducted on the python’s body, which contains 122 egg “follicles”, near-spherical structures that turn into eggs when fertilized. In its digestive tract, the researchers found pieces of fur, clumps of dissolved bone and a piece of hoof, evidence that the python’s last meal was an adult white-tailed deer. Just that.
Previous research has shown that Burmese pythons feed on about 24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and two species of reptiles in the state of Florida. What do very badly to the local ecosystem. “These pythons have the ability to totally alter the ecosystem, and I would say they probably have already done that”confirms to National Geographic Kristen Hart, collaborator of the conservation team.
30,000 to 300,000 pythons roaming free in Florida
The species was introduced in the 1970s to Florida, first as a pet, but quickly flourished in the wild after many specimens were abandoned by their owners. Today, it is generally estimated that 30,000 to 300,000 pythons could roam the swamps and forests of Florida.
“Since 2000, Florida Fish & Wildlife has killed or disposed of more than 15,000 pythons, including more than 1,000 each year as of 2017. But scientists have no idea how many thousands more there might be.“, warns Douglas Main, editor-in-chief of National Geographic, in the columns of the DailyMail.