When you think of scientists working for the U.S. Geological Survey, you might picture them studying things like seismology graphs but that’s not all the department does. A recent video posted by USGS shows a team wrestling to control a giant python.
The snake in the video, according to the University of Florida’s press release issued Monday, set not only a state record for its size of 17 feet 7 inches but also the 87 eggs it had. According to the university’s website, the dead animal was brought to the Florida Museum from the Everglades National Park as part of a project through the USGS to study the increasingly invasive Burmese python species in the state.
Before the snake could be studied by the university though, it had to be captured and killed. The video (via io9) shows three adult men from USGS controlling the python and one saying even with all his muscle “she’s still stronger than me.”
Watch the B-roll provided by the department for yourself to see the snake while it’s still alive (active footage starts around 0:55):
Florida Museum herpetology collection manager Kenneth Krysko said in a university statement the python brought in for research was healthy and well-fed. In its stomach feathers were found, but they’re also known to feed on bobcats, deer and other large animals. Here’s more from Krysko on the snake:
“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” [...] Krysko [said]. “It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”
“A 17.5-foot snake could eat anything it wants,” Krysko said. “By learning what this animal has been eating and its reproductive status, it will hopefully give us insight into how to potentially manage other wild Burmese pythons in the future. It also highlights the actual problem, which is invasive species.”
Watch this report from the Florida Museum of Natural History:
Scientists said the python’s stats show just how pervasive the invasive snakes, which are native to Southeast Asia, have become in South Florida.
Tens of thousands of Burmese pythons are believed to be living in the Everglades, where they thrive in the warm, humid climate. While many were apparently released by their owners, others may have escaped from pet shops during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and have been reproducing ever since.
Rob Robins, a biologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said the snakes are very hard to catch, and that since they have established themselves in the Everglades, they will be virtually impossible to eradicate.
“I think you’re going to see more and more big snakes like this caught,” he said.
According to the university, the previous records for Burmese pythons captured in the wild in the state was 16.8 feet and 85 eggs.
Read more about the snake’s research here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.