A giant Burmese python was captured in Florida's Everglades National Park earlier this month, and it was so long it took five people to pick up for a photo opp.
According to WPLG-TV
, the 18-foot, 3-inch snake was captured along the Shark Valley tram road July 9 by a permitted python researcher and was later euthanized, park spokeswoman Katie Corrigan told the television station.
"While this individual was among the largest of the pythons that have been removed, it was not record-setting," Corrigan explained. "We expect to occasionally encounter large pythons in this size range as we continue python removal efforts, though most pythons that we encounter are smaller."
The snake ultimately measured just 4-inches short of the Florida record, an 18-foot, 7-inch snake caught in Miami-Dade in 2013, reported WFOR-TV
A few National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey interns had a photo taken with the huge reptile to help them gain confidence and experience handling large snakes.
Pythons have been a growing concern in the Florida Everglades as they have been accused of eating prey at a rapid rate.
"The Burmese pythons are unique in that they're an apex predator species," Phil Andreozzi, of the National Invasive Species Council, told U.S. News & World Report
. "They're eating deer ... They're eating wood storks. They're devastating the raccoons and rabbits."
Burmese pythons, according to the news magazine, can grow to be 23 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds, leaving few other animals in the Everglades to threaten it.
U.S. News and World reported pointed to a 2005 Cornell University study stating that the U.S. government pays out more than $120 billion annually to deal with 50,000 introduced species of plants, animals, and microbes.
A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, according to The Atlantic
, noted that since 2003, the python population in the Everglades has increased to a few thousand while the observations of raccoons have decreased 93 percent, bobcats by 87 percent, and possums by 98.9 percent.
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