Naples, FloridaResearchers have captured the most massive python ever recorded in Florida—or anywhere outside its native range, for that matter—weighing 215 pounds and measuring nearly 18 feet in length.
The discovery highlights the persistence of South Florida’s decades-old python problem. Burmese pythons, a reclusive apex predator from Southeast Asia, were introduced to Florida in the 1970s, likely from the exotic pet trade. They’ve been exploding in the wild ever since, altering ecosystems by snacking on a wide variety of native species.
A small, tight-knit team of python trackers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in December caught this huge female—whose heft shatters their previous record of 185 pounds—by using a scout snake, a male with a GPS tracker attached. This method lets them find and eradicate more and more snakes, especially big, reproductively active females. Their removal has the promise to help ameliorate the python invasion over time.