A newly found Burmese python has broken previous records in size and egg capacity. The discovery is an indication of just how comfortable the invasive species is in its Florida home.
A double record-setting Burmese python has been found in the Florida Everglades.
At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home.
"This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble."
The giant female python was discovered in the Everglades National Park and had been stored since May in a freezer at the museum; on Friday, researchers at the museum studied its internal anatomy, making the wild discovery.
Florida is the world capital for invasive reptiles and amphibians, and the Burmese python, native to Southeast Asia, is one of the state's most prominent new residents. The snake was introduced to Florida by the exotic pet trade three decades ago and is now one of the region's deadliest and most competitive predators. [See Photos of Record Burmese Python]
"They were here 25 years ago, but in very low numbers and it was difficult to find one because of their cryptic behavior," Krysko said in a statement from the University of Florida. "Now, you can go out to the Everglades nearly any day of the week and find a Burmese python. We've found 14 in a single day."