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Warning: Are Gigantic Burmese Pythons Taking Over Florida?

Finding python eggs in Florida isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s so common that officials are starting to worry these slithering creatures are taking over the Sunshine State.

The warm, tropical climate is the perfect breeding ground for these reptiles. Unfortunately, they’re an invasive species that could wreak havoc on the ecosystem.

Today, we’re discovering whether python eggs are really that abundant in Florida and what locals are doing about the problem. 

Let’s get started!

Close up of Burmese Python. Are Burmese Pythons really laying hundreds of eggs in Florida?
Are Burmese Pythons really laying hundreds of eggs in Florida?

Florida Contractor Removes Huge Python Nest With 111 Eggs

Brandon Rahe is a contractor who partners with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). He’s part of a team known as the Python Action Team, Removing Invasive Constrictors. Rahe recently removed a massive Burmese python from the Everglades. The reptile had a huge nest that held 111 eggs.

When discussing the situation, Lisa Thompson, an FWC official, described it as a record-setting number of eggs.

However, the 13-foot, 9-inch snake was far short of award-winning. In the right environment, they can grow substantially longer.

The discovery of the nest highlights the issue of python eggs in Florida. Despite being a non-native species, they’re common in the Everglades. This area runs from Lake Okeechobee to the southern tip of the state.

So if they’re not native, why are they there, and how did the problem grow to what it is today? Answers to such critical questions will require us to dive deeper.

How Did Florida Become a Hotbed for Pythons and Their Eggs?

These reptiles originate 8,000 miles from the Sunshine State in Southeast Asia. Currently, two primary theories exist for how these creatures became familiar wildlife here.

The leading theory dates back to the 1980s, when owning a Burmese python became popular. As the snakes got too large and expensive to care for, owners began dumping them in the Everglades. It didn’t take long for them to start multiplying and create a severe problem.

A second theory places the blame on Hurricane Andrew, a 1992 storm that devastated the area. Out of fear of intense 150-mile-per-hour winds, many residents packed up their things and left.

Unfortunately, this forced breeding facilities and private owners to leave reptiles behind. 

With walls falling and roofs flying, glass containers holding the snakes shattered and set them free. They went on to breed like crazy throughout the region. However, while this may have occurred, they invaded the area long before Hurricane Andrew. The storm may not be the cause, but it certainly didn’t help the situation.

Speaking of eggs: How to (Correctly) Use a Big Green Egg.

Record-Breaking Florida Pythons 

Although the python removed by Rahe laid an unprecedented number of eggs, other specimens in Florida beat it by a long shot when it comes to size. 

In June 2023, biologists used a tracking device to follow a male snake. It led them to capture an 18-foot-long female with 122 developing eggs in its abdomen. When placed on the scale, it weighed an astonishing 215 pounds. The reptile dethroned the previous record holder by nearly 30 pounds. 

Additionally, a month or so later, Jake Waleri, a local hunter, set a world record. While hunting in Big Cypress National Preserve, he captured a 19-foot Burmese python. This giant broke the previous record of 18 feet, 9 inches.

The hunter was able to capture not only the animal but also video footage. You can find a video of him wrestling the animal on his Instagram page. Waleri grabbed it by its tail, and it lunged at him.

He grasped the back of its head and held tight to avoid its powerful jaws. Luckily, his crew jumped in and came to his rescue to tape its mouth shut.

We can confidently say that “snake wrestler” is one job we won’t be applying for anytime soon. It’s one of those careers that’s best left to the experts like Waleri.

Grab the popcorn and settle in for movie night with Python!

Why Are Huge Nests of Florida Python Eggs Such a Problem?

Burmese pythons are an invasive, non-native species, and their huge nests are becoming problematic. When these pests enter habitats, they disrupt the entire ecosystem. Pythons lack predators, compete for food resources, and introduce diseases.

While it may only happen once each year, they typically lay anywhere from six to 100 eggs each time. As you can imagine, they can quickly multiply and take over an area.

Considering this has been an issue since the 1980s, it’s no wonder the state is experiencing complications today.

They’re problematic because they feast on native wildlife. Reaching 13 to 19 feet long requires eating a lot of food. They’ll eat birds, alligators, rabbits, and even deer. If left unchecked, this could cause a rapid decline in the population of some animals.

Ecosystems like the Everglades are incredibly fragile environments. The decline of a single animal can throw off the natural cycle of its food web. When officials notice an imbalance, they have to take action. This results in them spending time, money, and energy on matters that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Coastal Carpet Python laying eggs similar to a Burmese Python
Pythons are a huge snake family found around the world, though they’re not native to the USA

How Is Florida Working to Eradicate Pythons and Their Eggs?

The state recognizes that it can’t just sit back and ignore the issue. If they do, it’ll only worsen as they grow in size and number. One thing Florida does to eradicate them is to allow year-round hunting without requiring a permit or setting a limit. They encourage private landowners to dispose of these animals as humanely as possible.

Another creative way they deal with this problem is by hiring removal agents. These are hourly positions with incentives for capturing them and finding active nests.

This program started in 2017 and operates in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Palm Beach counties. Again, this is a job we won’t be applying for.

However, one of the most unique ways they’re handling the problem is through the Florida Python Challenge. This ten-day contest has participants remove the reptiles from seven locations throughout South Florida. 

The grand prize goes to the person who removes the most pythons, and winnings top out at $10,000. In addition, second place receives $7,500. The competition has various other prizes for military, professional, and novice categories. 

It’s not just pythons you should be concerned about: 7 Killer Creatures Found in Everglades National Park.

The Snake Problem is a Tough Egg to Crack

Being aware of the negative impact of invasive wildlife is essential. After all, these species can do severe damage if left alone. 

Luckily, officials in Florida take python nests and their eggs seriously, and you should, too. If you spot one of these creatures slithering around, report it immediately. You may even help set the next world record!

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