NAPLES, Fla.- In three months, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida captured more than 40 invasive Burmese pythons, totaling more than 2,000 pounds of scaly creatures.
“We’ve got a pretty big problem out there,” said Ian Bartoszek, a wildlife biologist.
Out of the five largest Burmese pythons found in Collier County this year, one is a male and the others are pregnant females. The male is the largest Burmese python on record caught locally with a length of 16 feet and weighing in at 140 pounds.
“We weren’t certain males got that large until we captured this specific animal this year,” Bartoszek said. “It may have a localized impact on some of the future generations of snakes. That’s probably a few hundred snakes and eggs inside that aren’t going to hatch from a key area in Collier County this season.”
The reptiles are destructive to the native wildlife, Bartoszek said.
“They probably didn’t get to this size by eating possum and raccoons. They are eating their way through the food chain here in Southwest Florida.”
Bartoszek adds the most effective way to track the reptiles is by using other pythons known as “snitch snakes.”
“They wear a wire and they rat on their friends out there and that’s lead us to some breeding aggregations of pythons which were removed,” Bartoszek said.
Bartoszek adds there’s a significant amount of money spent on removing invasive plants but it’s now time those resources were put towards these invasive animals.
“This is public enemy number one in Southwest Florida, the Burmese python. So we need stay vigilant, we need to put all our heads together and work smarter, not harder, on this problem.”
The Burmese pythons captured will undergo necropsies so biologists may be able to learn some valuable information through their stomach contents.