Monster python captured in Florida Everglades

Miami HeraldFebruary 5, 2014 

Bobby Hill, a snake control agent for the South Florida Water Management District, with an 18-foot Burmese python he killed on Tuesday about five miles north of Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. SOUTH FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT

The Florida Everglades has produced yet another monster Burmese python — the second 18-footer captured in the last year.

Bobby Hill, a python control agent for the South Florida Water Management District, bagged the giant female around noon Tuesday on the L-28 levee about five miles north of Tamiami Trail.

District spokesman Randy Smith said the carcass would be shipped to the University of Florida where biologists working to stop the spread of the invasive species will examine the remains and verify its length and weight.

“It looks to be about 18 feet,’’ said Smith. “It could very well be a state record.’’

The water district’s levees have produced some of the largest snakes captured in South Florida. The cold-blooded reptiles commonly crawl atop the rock embankments to warm their bodies in the sun, particularly on chilly days.

Last May, a snake collector named Jason Leon captured what currently ranks as the largest Burmese python found in the wilds of Florida. He spotted it at night along a canal in southeast Miami-Dade and had to slice off its head to finally subdue the powerful creature. The Florida Fish and Wild Conservation Commission verified its total length at 18 feet, 8 inches. The snake, a female, weighed in at 128 pounds.

The previous record, in 2012, was a 17-foot, 7-inch female captured by scientists in Everglades National Park. That snake, pregnant with 87 eggs, weighed just over 164 pounds.

In their native habitat, Burmese pythons are believed to reach 20 feet or more. Biologists consider the exotic predators a major threat to native wildlife. Necropsies have shown that they eat just about everything that lives in the Everglades, from birds to alligators, and at least one study in 2012 suggests the boom in pythons has decimated the small mammal population in the park.

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