215-Pound Burmese Python Discovered in Florida
By: William Zhou
On June 22, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida revealed that they had found a 215-pound female Burmese python in Everglades National Park. The python’s weight beat the old record, a 185-pound specimen captured in Naples, Florida in 2021.
Soon, the Conservancy discovered that the snake had also broken another world record. She was pregnant with 122 developing eggs—the greatest number of eggs ever found inside a female python during a breeding cycle. Male pythons are attracted to the largest females. A male python named Dionysus, or Dion, who is fitted with a transmitter, led scientists to the massive female reptile. When Dion kept going back to the same area in Everglades Park, scientists suspected he was meeting a female python.
Native to Southwest Asia, Burmese pythons were first brought to the U.S. as pets. Wildlife experts believe that the reptiles made a stronghold in the Everglades National Park sometime after Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992. The Category 5 (super strong) storm destroyed a nearby breeding facility, releasing many snakes into swamps.
Pythons multiply so fast that people must hunt them to balance their population. Hunters use trained pythons (that are trained to kill their own species) and python-hunting dogs to hunt Burmese pythons. The state of Florida also hosts a yearly “python challenge.” The two-week-long contest invites experts to hunt as many snakes as possible for prize money. In 2021, the competition helped remove 223 Burmese pythons from Everglades Park.