It's going to take more than a brutal cold snap like the one in 2010 to wipe out the tens of thousands of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades, say scientists dissecting the largest one ever found in the area. The 17-foot, 7-inch snake was carrying 87 eggs, also a Florida record, reports the Miami Herald. "This thing is monstrous—it’s about a foot wide," says a snake expert at the Florida Museum of Natural History. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild. There's nothing stopping them, and the native wildlife are in trouble."
A study released earlier this year blamed the huge snakes—the descendants of released pets and pet-store escapees—for the near-disappearance of much of the Everglades' native wildlife, including foxes, bobcats, and opossums. They have been known to eat animals as large as deer and alligators. Scientists plan to analyze feathers found in the huge snake's stomach to learn what creatures it has been squeezing the life out of. "A 17.5-foot snake could eat anything it wants," the museum's expert notes. "By learning what this animal has been eating and its reproductive status, it will hopefully give us insight into how to potentially manage other wild Burmese pythons in the future." (Click to read about Florida's Python Challenge ... which isn't going so well.)