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Record: 11 pythons found entangled in 'mating balls' in southwest Florida

The Wildlife Conservation Center uses male snakes that it tags with radio transmitters to guide them to females during the breeding season

Hallan 11 pitones enredadas en “bolas de apareamiento” en Florida | Shutterstock

March 20, 2024 3:45pm

Updated: March 21, 2024 10:10am

The Southwest Florida Wildlife Conservation Center found 11 Burmese pythons in three different breeding groups, so-called “mating balls,” in a single day, a new record for the organization.

The 500 pounds of pythons were found on Feb. 21 in three breeding groups that included one female snake and several male snakes, according to the agency.

This discovery signifies a record catch for the organization, which has been researching and eliminating snakes for more than 10 years, as they are an invasive species in the United States.

Burmese pythons, one of the largest snakes in the world and typically native to Southeast Asia, feed on more than 72 species of animals in Florida, wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek said.

The agency uses male snakes, which it tags with radio transmitters to guide them to females during the breeding season, he added. Once snakes are captured by hunters in an effort to decrease their population, they are euthanized and tissue samples are collected for genetic studies.

“Often during necropsies, our lab feels like a CSI wildlife crime scene, and we often see firsthand how they are getting so big,” the biologist said. “We often see remains of white-tailed deer inside pythons. This should sound an alarm.”

Burmese pythons were brought to Florida in 1970 through the pet trade and have since become an “established apex predator throughout the Great Everglades ecosystem,” the Conservation website says.

“Burmese pythons are believed to be responsible for a 90% decline in native mammal populations in their established range,” he adds.

So far, the agency has euthanized more than 1,300 pythons, weighing more than 35,000 pounds, in an area of ​​about 150 square miles in southwest Florida.

Fast-File Reporter

Marielbis Rojas

Marielbis Rojas is a Venezuelan journalist and communications professional with a degree in Social Communication from UCAB. She is a news reporter for ADN America.