On the morning of July 10, a group of Burmese python hunters captured and killed a 19-foot female python in a federally-protected swampland just north of Everglades National Park. According to a press release from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida (CSWF), a conservation organization that recorded the giant snake’s official weight and measurements, it’s the longest python ever documented in south Florida since the invasive snakes were inadvertently introduced roughly four decades ago. The previous record was 18 feet, 10 inches.
The press release credits 22-year-old Jake Waleri of Naples with finding the massive snake somewhere inside the Big Cypress National Preserve—a 729,000-acre swamp that’s home to a diverse array of native wildlife species, including the endangered Florida panther. “We brought the snake to the Conservancy to be officially measured and documented. We wanted to donate this find to science,” Waleri said. “It’s awesome to be able to make an impact on South Florida’s environment. We love this ecosystem and try to preserve it as much as possible.”
Snake hunters Jake Waleri and Stephen Gauta pose with their record snake alongside CSWF biologist Ian Easterling. Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
CSFW has been dealing with the ecological threats posed by invasive Burmese pythons for more than 10 years. During that time, the organization claims to have removed some 30,000 pounds worth of pythons from a 150-square-mile area in southwest Florida.
“We had a feeling that these snakes get this big and now we have clear evidence,” said CSFW biologist Ian Easterling. “Her genetic material may prove valuable for an eventual understanding of the founding population of South Florida. We will be collecting measurements and samples that will be distributed to our research collaborators.”
At 125-pounds, it’s not the heaviest Burmese python ever recorded in the snake’s adopted south Florida range. That distinction goes to a 215-pound female that was captured in June of 2022. A team of CSFW biologists located that snake by implanting a radio transmitter into the body of a male “scout snake” that led them to the large breeding female.
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