Jun 29, 2022 - News

Record Burmese python means trouble for Everglades

A very big snake splayed out on a table.

Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, and a huge snake. Photo: Andrew West/The News-Press /USA TODAY NETWORK

In December, a team searching the Everglades for pythons found a snake larger than anyone had ever seen in Florida before.

  • The 18-foot-long female Burmese python weighed 215 pounds — much larger than the previous record holder at 140 pounds — and contained 122 eggs, also a new record.

Why it matters: The size of this snake suggests pythons are eating more fauna and growing based on consumption and not necessarily age, per the New York Times.

  • A snake of this size also hints at the difficulty of finding them, despite the state's efforts to kill large numbers with detector dogs and scout snakes.

The big picture: Experts suspect there are tens of thousands of pythons in the Everglades, and they're competing with other native animals — like the endangered Florida panther — for food, like possums, raccoons and white-tailed deer.

Flashback: Although endangered in certain parts of Asia, Burmese pythons began popping up in the Everglades in the 1980s, reportedly due to the exotic pet trade.

  • When python pets got too big, the theory goes, people released them into the wild, and they began to thrive in the 1.5-million-acre Everglades. The python has since beaten out the alligator as South Florida's chief predator.

🐍 What they're saying: "So, is there a future where the western Everglades is silent?" asked Conservancy of Southwest Florida CEO Rob Moher, per USA Today.

  • "Imagine going out and there's no wildlife, no bird life because this apex predator is just devouring what is out there."

What's next: The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off Aug. 5. Awards for the state-sanctioned hunt include:

  • Most pythons: $2,500
  • 2nd most pythons: $750
  • Longest python: $1,500
  • 2nd longest python: $750

Bonus: "Killing It," the Peacock show starring Craig Robinson as a Florida snake hunter, has been renewed for Season 2, per Variety.

More from Axios:

How a hurricane hurled snakes into the South Florida wild

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