Snake hunters in Florida have achieved a remarkable feat by capturing the longest Burmese python ever recorded in the state. Measuring an astonishing 19 feet, this massive python was discovered in the Big Cypress National Preserve, located about 45 miles west of Miami. The previous record for the longest Burmese python found in Florida was 18 feet and 9 inches. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, an environmental nonprofit based in Naples, announced this groundbreaking discovery on Wednesday.
Jake Waleri, a 22-year-old snake hunter, stumbled upon this enormous python and immediately recognized its scientific significance due to its size. Driven by a desire to contribute to the study of these invasive predators, Waleri and his team brought the snake to the Conservancy to have it officially measured and documented. Their intention was to donate the find to science, shedding light on the growth potential of Burmese pythons.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has classified Burmese pythons as an “invasive apex predator” that poses a threat to the ecosystem in Southwest Florida. In 2022, the heaviest Burmese python ever recorded in the state weighed a staggering 215 pounds. Ian Easterling, a biologist with the conservancy, emphasized the importance of documenting the length of these pythons as it provides valuable information about the founding population in South Florida. The genetic material from this record-breaking python may contribute to a better understanding of the species’ origins.
Burmese pythons are known for their docile behavior, which makes them popular among reptile enthusiasts. However, due to poor care and frequent release into the wild, these snakes often pose a danger to their handlers. Native to grassy marshes and jungles in Southeast Asia, Burmese pythons can grow up to 23 feet or more. They primarily feed on small mammals and birds, killing their prey by constriction.
The efforts of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to remove these apex predators from the ecosystem are crucial for maintaining the balance of the local wildlife.