A massive 17.5-foot long pregnant python found in Florida had a record 87 eggs inside when examined by researchers. Burmese pythons are not native to the Sunshine State, but the rapidly reproducing reptiles have achieved high population numbers in just a few years. Florida biologists and wildlife staffers believe exotic pet owners who could no longer care for the pythons simply set the invasive species loose in the Everglades area, CNN reports.
The pregnant Burmese python found in the Everglades National Park on Monday weighed 164.5 pounds. The python is largest one one ever found inside the park and is now being studied for clues about the reproductive habits and capabilities of the species.
“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide. It means there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble,” Florida Museum of Natural History herpetology collection manager Kenneth Krysko told CNN.
Pythons have no known predators in the Everglades, causing conservation concerns over one of the deadliest and perhaps most competitive predators in South Florida. The Burmese python population in the Everglades region is now quite well established and growing exponentially as the reptiles reproduce at startling numbers. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Everglades National Park are working in conjunction with other environmental and animal groups to solve the python problem, the Huffington Post notes.
Prior Burmese python record holders measured 16.8 feet long and carried 85 eggs. Florida scientists maintain that grasping a greater understanding of how the python reproducs and the snake’s overall biology will be extremely helpful in stopping the spread of the species worldwide. There are few records of how many eggs a massive female python carries when living in the wild. The record breaking python recently found in the Florida Everglades is so long that five researchers working side by side can examine the snake at one time. A 16-foot long python devoured a Florida deer earlier this year.