Scientists in Florida caught a female 300-pound, 22-foot-long Burmese python. She terrorized the entire region for forty years. Python’s last victim was a white-tailed deer, the remains of which were found by experts in the snake’s stomach, reports Smithsonian Magazine.
Biologists also found 122 eggs developing inside the snake, which they believe is a new record for the number of eggs a female python can produce during a single breeding cycle. An average clutch is around 43 eggs.
Since the late 1970s, invasive Burmese pythons have been wreaking havoc on southwest Florida, gobbling up native species and harming the area’s biodiversity. With no natural predators to keep the population in check and plenty of tasty animals to feast upon, the pythons are getting bigger and more fertile.
To hunt this mammoth female snake, biologists deployed a male “scout” snake named Dionysus, or Dion for short, equipped with an implanted radio transmitter. Dion led researchers right to the large female, which wrestled with the biologists for about 20 minutes before finally surrendering.
Over the years, researchers have found dozens of other types of wildlife inside the stomachs of pythons, including 24 species of mammals, 47 species of birds and two species of reptiles.
Pythons have contributed to the decline of some mammal species, including marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits, foxes, racoons, opossums and bobcats, particularly in remote parts of Everglades National Park, per the U.S. Geological Survey.
“This is the wildlife issue of our time for southern Florida,” says Bartoszek in the statement.