Record-setting female python captured in the Everglades
Everglades wildlife is a little safer, now that the longest python ever measured in Florida has been caught and killed.
Hunters Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis nabbed the record-breaking specimen, the South Florida Water Management District announced Thursday. At 104 pounds, she wasn't the heaviest snake ever removed, but at 18 feet, 9 inches, she was the longest. The previous record-holder, captured in 2013, was an inch shorter, and some have weighed in at around 140 pounds.
Making their feat even more important is that the reptile was an egg-bearing female, said district spokesman Randy Smith. The voracious Asian imports have been wreaking havoc in South Florida's ecosystem.
Not only do they eat wildlife, they carry a lung-destroying parasite that's spreading to Florida's native snakes. Though it is illegal to release nonnative species into the wild, pet Burmese pythons that escaped or were dumped are now established in Florida.
"They are apex predators," Smith said. "They have decimated the natural wildlife that makes the Everglades great. They've got no enemies."
The duo caught the snake Oct. 2 about 35 miles west of Miami along the L-28 Tieback Canal .
The capture was part of the joint python elimination program by the district and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, under the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
So far, hunters in the expanded program have removed more than 5,000 invasive pythons from the Everglades.
"(The) record breaking capture shows that our increased efforts are working to get harmful pythons out of the precious Everglades ecosystem,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron in a release. "Together with our partners and the public's help, we can restore the Everglades and combat the harmful pythons that hurt Florida’s native wildlife."
Learn more, help out
The public can help control nonnative invasive wildlife by reporting sightings to the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline at 888-IveGot1 (888-483-4681), online at IveGot1.org or by using the free smartphone app IVEGOT1. If possible, take a picture and note the exact location of the sighting. Python Action Team and Python Elimination Program members respond to reports of large constrictors and other priority species to remove these harmful invaders from the wild.
The FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program allows pet owners to surrender nonnative or exotic pets without penalty. Visit MyFWC.com/PetAmnesty for more information.
To learn more about the FWC’s Python Action Team and the SFWMD’s Python Elimination Program, visit MyFWC.com/Python and SFWMD.gov/Python.