500-Lb., 7-Foot-Wide Pile of Pythons Found Mating in Florida: 'Most People's Worst Nightmare'

In total, 11 pythons were caught, with one exceeding 16 feet in length, from two mating piles found near Naples

<p>Getty</p> A stock photo of a Burmese python


A stock photo of a Burmese python

What would have been a bad dream for many was a massive win for the Florida wildlife experts who discovered a 7-foot-wide, 500-lb. pile of invasive Burmese pythons.

The snakes, which are not indigenous to the region and have significantly disrupted Florida's ecosystem for more than four decades, were discovered on Feb. 21 in a marsh near Naples, per the Miami Herald.

Wildlife experts discovered two balls of Burmese pythons mating on the same day, one of which was the aforementioned 7-foot-wide pile. The Miami Herald reported the massive mound of reptiles was a record size for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Related: Burmese 'Monster' Python Weighing 198 Lbs. Captured in Florida

Eleven pythons were removed from the piles of snakes. One snake that experts located in this discovery reportedly exceeded 16 feet in length.

According to the Miami Herald, the pythons were located using novel implants researchers inserted in male "scout snakes." Once the snakes were set free, those tracking them could follow a signal emitted from the reptiles into remote areas.

Conservancy biologist Ian Bartoszek said via the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's Facebook page,
For 10 years, we've been catching and putting them [Burmese pythons] down humanely. You can't put them in zoos and send them back to Southeast Asia. Invasive species management doesn't end with rainbows and kittens. These are remarkable creatures, here through no fault of their own. They are impressive animals, good at what they do."

"It's probably most people's worst nightmare," Bartoszek added in a phone call to McClatchy News via the Miami Herald, noting, "For us, it's a good day. It's a win for native wildlife."

Related: 'Resilient' Python Invasion in Florida Could Be 'Impossible' to Stop, U.S Officials Say

The Florida Museum states that Burmese pythons, originally native to southern and southeastern Asia, were introduced to Florida in the 1980s.

According to The Nature Conservancy, the first Burmese python in Florida, found in the Everglades in 1979, was likely a former pet that escaped or was released into the wild.

"Today, after years of breeding, tens of thousands of the snakes inhabit the mainland around Everglades National Park, feasting on rare and endangered species," the nonprofit shared.

Per the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), "Pythons compete with native wildlife for food, which includes mammals, birds, and other reptiles." The agency also explained how declines in various mammal populations, particularly in Everglades National Park, have been linked to Burmese pythons.

Related: 12-Year-Old Girl Whirls Huge Snake Around 'Like a Hammer Thrower' to Save Pet Guinea Pig's Life

Specifically, the USGS explains that "populations of raccoons had declined 99.3 percent, opossums 98.9 percent and bobcats 87.5 percent since 1997."

Marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits and fox populations in Florida disappeared over that time, per the USGS.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states on its website, "Nonnative reptiles like Burmese pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission - no permit required- and the FWC encourages people to capture and humanely kill pythons from private lands whenever possible."

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