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Giant python sets records in Florida

More than 17-feet-long and carrying 87 eggs, a record-breaking Burmese python's discovery emphasizes Florida's pesky invasive reptile and amphibian problem. Pet owners dumping unwanted exotics into the wild play a role in the invasion. 

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Researchers examine the internal anatomy of the largest Burmese python found to date in Florida at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida.

REUTERS/Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History at University of Florida/Handout

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A Burmese python found in Florida set records as the largest such snake ever captured in the state at 17-feet, 7-inches (5.36 metres) and the most prolific reproducer carrying a record load of 87 eggs, according to researchers.

The previous Florida record setters were a 16-foot, 8-inch python (5.08 metres) and 85 eggs.

"It was huge," said Paul Ramey, spokesman for the Florida Natural History Museum at the University of Florida in Gainesville. To perform the necropsy, researchers "had to put three tables together and it took at least four people to pick it up and get it on the tables," Ramey said on Tuesday.

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia. The snake was captured in April in the Everglades National Park by researchers studying the impact of the pythons on native species. The eggs were discovered on Friday, university researchers said in a statement.

Ramey said Burmese pythons, which have no natural predators in Florida, became established in the state in 2000. Previous studies determined that Florida has the world's worst invasive reptile and amphibian problem, he said.

Part of the python invasion is attributed to pet owners dumping exotic pets when the creatures become too difficult to manage at home.

Ramey said Burmese pythons in the wild in Asia are known to reach 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.6 metres) in length, so researchers fully expect that eventually someone will find a 20-foot Burmese python in Florida.

After researchers finish with the snake, the skeleton or skin of its nearly 165-pound (75-kg) carcass is expected to be placed on public display, Ramey said.

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Doina Chiacu)


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