The largest Burmese python ever found in Florida is 18ft long and scoffed an entire deer for its last meal.
It took a 20 minute wrestling match for a team of Florida, US wildlife biologists to capture the biggest snake they had ever seen and bring it in to study.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida announced on Thursday that the 'invasive' 15st snake living in the state's Everglades, was caught in December but kept in a freezer until April.
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A necropsy of the python it had 122 eggs developing inside which breaks the record for the most eggs a female python is known to have produced in a breeding cycle, the Conservancy says.
The organisation added that they found “hoof cores” inside the snake’s stomach which was remaining evidence of the beast snacking on a white tailed deer before it was caught.
In preying on deer, the python was eating into the natural prey of Florida's endangered panther — an issue which helped inspire the conservancy’s python removal program in 2013.
Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and environmental science project manager for the Conservancy, said: “The removal of female pythons plays a critical role in disrupting the breeding cycle of these apex predators that are wreaking havoc on the Everglades ecosystem and taking food sources from other native species.
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“This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida.”
The Conservancy has so far removed over 1,000 pythons in a 100-square-mile area off southwestern Florida thanks to a tracker implanted in male 'scout' snakes.
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Ian added: “These efforts are significant in fulfilling our mission of protecting Southwest Florida’s unique natural environment and quality of life by reducing the overall impact on our native wildlife populations.
“How do you find the needle in the haystack? You could use a magnet, and in a similar way our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around."
The strategy is to track the scout snakes which will lead biologists to breeding grounds where “large, reproductive females” can be removed to stop eggs from hatching in the wild.
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