Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey captured a state record-breaking Burmese python that was not only a whopping 17 feet and 7 inches long, but carrying an also-record-breaking 87 eggs.
The massive gal weighed 164 pounds, according to staff at the University of Florida, who said the previous records for length and fertility were a measly 16.8 feet and 85 eggs.
“She was a beast!” USGS research ecologist Dr. Kristen Hart, whose team caught the snake, told HuffPost. “She was really impressive.”
Hart said the huge python was initially spotted in March when a “judas snake” — a male python outfitted with a transmitter for tracking during mating season — led USGS biologists Thomas Selby and Brian Smith straight to her. Getting the snake from the brush to the office was no small feat, though the very fit Selby and Smith are roughly 6′ 5″ and 5′ 10″, respectively.
The pythons have become such a problem in the Everglades that the plus-sized slitherer wasn’t immediately euthanized, but instead put to work as an informant. The USGS team inserted two radio tags and a GPS inside her during surgery, along with a small motion detector about the size of six stacked quarters.
For 38 days, the snake was at large in the Everglades again while Hart and other researchers kept careful track of her and their expensive equipment. But the python had to be put down before the gadgets’ batteries ran out, surveillance budgets ran over, or the big girl (gulp) reproduced.
No one knows for sure how imported pythons first made their way into the Everglades. Popular yet unproven theories involve a reptile house destroyed in Hurricane Andrew, sending serpents slithering into the wild, or lazy exotic pet owners who dumped their former charges near Everglades National Park. Perhaps both.