Florida Python Nest Raided As Removal of Invasive Species Continues

A Burmese python nest has been raided in Florida, as efforts to remove the invasive species continue.

Officer Matthew Rubenstein from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was on a night patrol in the Big Cypress National Preserve when he bumped into Alex McDuffie, an officer for the Python Elimination Program, FWC said in a Facebook post. The Python Elimination Program's purpose is to take "aggressive action to protect the Everglades and eliminate invasive pythons from across the landscape," according to its website.

McDuffie had just discovered a Burmese python nursery, and was on the look out for more hatchlings.

Rubenstein joined his efforts and together they came across a female python and 18 hatchlings. The female was also guardian of a nest of 23 unhatched eggs.

Burmese python
A photo shows officers with the female python, her eggs and hatchlings. They were removed from the habitat. MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife

"The pythons and unhatched eggs were removed from the sensitive habitat, helping to prevent future negative impacts to our native wildlife," FWC said in a statement.

It comes following an increase in efforts to reduce the Burmese python population in the wilds of Florida.

Newsweek has approached Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for comment.

Burmese pythons, originally from Asia, are an invasive species to Florida. They were first introduced to the environment in the 1970s as pets that had likely been released into the wild. The exact population of the snakes is unknown, but their population has exploded in recent years and there are believed to be 100,000 in the state.

Ever since they were let loose in the wilds of Florida, they have expanded their range throughout the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades.

Their presence has been disastrous for the native ecosystem—the snakes feast on native wildlife, such as white tailed deer, and thus majorly affects the preservation of the wetlands.

Researchers are often on the hunt for large, breeding females living in the area so that they may remove them from the habitat and prevent the population from expanding.

In June, researchers from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida found a giant Burmese python measuring nearly 18 feet in length and weighing 215 pounds in the Florida Everglades. Burmese pythons are huge snakes, and reach average size of 8 to 10 feet, however they can grow much larger in rare cases.

This huge female snake was found to be carrying 122 eggs.

Tracking down females is not the only initiative in place to remove the species from the ecosystem.

Every year Florida runs its "Python Challenge," which was created in 2013 to help with the removal of the invasive species.

The event runs for 10 days, where participants enter to kill as many Burmese pythons as possible. Cash prizes are offered to those who catch the most, biggest and longest snakes.

Hundreds, if not thousands of the snakes die from the hunt. However, experts have previously said that the hunt does little to dent the rapidly expanding population.