Giant pregnant python largest ever found in Florida

A Burmese python over 17 feet long, the largest ever found in the state, was found in the Florida Everglades. The snake was pregnant with 87 eggs. 

Kristen Grace/AP
University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Krysko displays eggs found in the largest Burmese python from Florida to date. Florida Museum of Natural History researchers examined the internal anatomy of the 17-foot-7-inch snake Friday and found a state record 87 eggs in the python’s oviducts.

The biggest Burmese python ever caught in Florida — 17 feet, 7 inches long and 164½ pounds — was found in Everglades National Park, the University of Florida announced Monday.

The snake was pregnant with 87 eggs, also said to be a record. Scientists said the python's stats show just how pervasive the invasive snakes, which are native to Southeast Asia, have become in South Florida.

"It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild," said Kenneth Krysko, a snake expert at the Florida Museum of Natural History, where the euthanized snake was brought. "'There's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble."

The python had feathers in its stomach that scientists plan to use to identify the types of wildlife it was eating.

"A 17½-foot snake could eat anything it wants," Krysko said.

Tens of thousands of Burmese pythons are believed to be living in the Everglades, where they thrive in the warm, humid climate. While many were apparently released by their owners, others may have escaped from pet shops during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and have been reproducing ever since.

The snakes kill their prey by coiling around it and suffocating it. They have been known to swallow animals as large as deer and alligators.

Authorities have taken repeated steps to try and reduce the python problem, banning their importation and allowing them to be hunted. But those efforts have done little to reduce the population.

In and around Everglades National Park alone, some 1,825 Burmese pythons were found between 2000 and 2011.

Rob Robins, a biologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said the snakes are very hard to catch, and that since they have established themselves in the Everglades, they will be virtually impossible to eradicate.

"I think you're going to see more and more big snakes like this caught," he said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.