The University of Florida announced a startling discovery Monday: A 17-foot-7-inch Burmese python had been pulled from the Everglades. The record-setting reptile weighed 165 pounds and was "about a foot wide."
Worst of all: Scientists removed 87 eggs from the animal's innards.
"This thing is monstrous," Kenneth Krysko of the Florida Museum of Natural History said in a statement. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild; there's nothing stopping them, and the native wildlife are in trouble."
Quantifying just how much trouble the native wildlife is in remains a challenge, though.
The media went wild earlier this year when a study in a major scientific journal suggested that Burmese pythons had annihilated raccoons, opossums, and other mammals from the Everglades. But just days after the study was published, some experts said the data was flawed, and one scientist who worked on the study told Reuters the paper should have never seen the light of day.
While it's easy for laymen to write off Burmese pythons as gross, slithering monsters that have invaded our fragile wetlands and should be banned, reptile breeders wish the general public and lawmakers would be a bit more judicious before jumping on the Burmese-hating bandwagon.
Some breeders' wallets have been hit hard since the feds announced a ban on the interstate trade of Burmese pythons. In an odd twist, the law severely cramped the livelihood of a Tampa-area magician whose show involved two pythons; he could no longer take the snakes out of state to perform his act.
But Krysko indicated that the discovery of the 17-foot monster snake -- and, maybe more importantly, the 87 eggs inside of it -- is a clear sign that this invasive species is still a very real threat that needs to be dealt with before things get worse.
"A 17.5-foot snake could eat anything it wants," he said in a release. "Now, you can go out to the Everglades nearly any day of the week and fine a Burmese python. We've found 14 in a single day."
The previous records for a Burmese pulled from the Everglades was 16.8 feet and 85 eggs.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!