11 pythons found entangled in 500 pounds of ‘mating balls’ in Southwest Florida

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By journalsofus.com


Wildlife conservators found 500 pounds of pythons on a single day last month in Collier County, Florida.

He 11 Burmese pythons were found on Feb. 21 in three different breeding aggregations, or “mating balls,” that contained one female snake and several male snakes, according to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

It was a record daily catch for the conservation organization, which has been researching and removing snakes of the environment for more than 10 years.

Conservancy wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek with a large mating ball python captured in southwest Florida.  (Courtesy of Conservancy of Southwest Florida)

Conservancy wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek with a large mating ball python captured in southwest Florida. (Courtesy of Conservancy of Southwest Florida)

Burmese pythons, normally native to Southeast Asia, are an invasive species in the U.S. and prey on more than 72 species of animals in Florida, said wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek. They are one of the largest snake species in the world.

The conservancy uses male snakes that it tags with radio transmitters to guide them to females during the breeding season, Bartoszek said. Once the conservancy captures the snakes in an effort to suppress the local python population, they are euthanized and tissue samples are collected to advance genetic studies.

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

The species was brought to Florida in the 1970s through the pet trade and has since become an “established apex predator throughout the Great Everglades ecosystem.” The conservancy’s website says.

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

The organization has removed more than 1,300 pythons weighing more than 35,000 pounds from an area of ​​about 150 square miles in southwest Florida, Bartoszek said.

This article was originally published in NBCNews.com

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