In Florida, the invasive Burmese pythons are a serious problem—and right now, the females are nesting and laying eggs, releasing thousands of new invasive creatures into the already-overrun Everglades. Last week, hunter Mike Kimmel, known as the Python Cowboy, and his trusty sidekick Otto took down a big win when they bagged a huge, pregnant female loaded with 60 eggs about to be released into the maxed-out ecosystem.
The snake was nearly 16 feet long and contained five dozen eggs "just days away from being laid," Kimmel wrote in an Instagram post.
"A removal like this is absolutely crucial for our native wildlife in that ecosystem and WILL make a difference. A python this size can eat anything in the Everglades, as I've proven with the multiple adult alligators I've rescued from being eaten by pythons (3 separate times). These invasive snakes are now the top of the food chain... until man & dog intervene."
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Pythons in the Everglades regularly grow enormous. While not the largest python captured in the Everglades, 16 feet is still near the tip of the scale. The longest recorded python in Florida was a jaw-dropping 18 feet long.
Burmese pythons are decimating the native ecosystem of Florida's Everglades. According to the USGS, severe mammal declines in Everglades National Park have been linked to these animals. One study reported that populations of raccoons had dropped 99.3 percent, opossums 98.9 percent, and bobcats 87.5 percent since 1997. Marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits, and foxes have effectively disappeared.
The problem can be traced back to 1979, when the first ever python was recorded in the Everglades. The population has steadily increased in the decades since. The python problem exploded after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which destroyed a python breeding facility and sent thousands into the nearby ecosystem. Another contributing factor was pet owners that released them to the wild once the snakes grew too big for captivity.
Kimmel is the owner and operator of Martin County Trapping & Wildlife Rescue, a nuisance control operation that specializes in invasive and dangerous species, including python, iguana, feral hog, and more. He is also a professional hunter and wildlife consultant. He and his canine companion Otto, along with his other dogs, are popular on Youtube and Instagram.
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