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Scientists at the University of Florida say the 160-pound, 17-foot-long Burmese python found in the Everglades last week is the largest one ever seen in the state, and more evidence that the "monstrous" snakes are taking over the park. Even more disturbing than the snake's size is the fact that it was carrying 87 eggs, also a record. The find shows that the non-native species is growing virtually unchecked, and breeding at astounding rates.

Since the snakes have no natural predators in the swamps of Florida they have taken over the area, devastating the populations of other smaller mammals and threatening to wipe many of them off the map. A study from earlier this year showed that rabbits, foxes, raccoons, and several other small animal species  had been virtually wiped out within the Everglades. Without some way of capturing and/or controlling the snake population, they could destroy the entire animal ecosystem of South Florida and may find their way to other parts of the United States.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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