Snake hunters trying to rid the Florida Everglades of invasive Burmese pythons used a new method to make a record-breaking catch. A team at Big Cypress National Preserve caught a 17-foot 140-pound female python, the longest python ever caught in the Everglades, the Guardian reports. The snake contained 73 "developing eggs," the team said in a Facebook post. The team said they caught the snake by tracking a "boyfriend" male snake that had been fitted with a radio transmitter. The program has helped locate several other breeding females in the Everglades in recent months, the team said.
"All of the python work at Big Cypress is focused on controlling this invasive species, which poses significant threats to native wildlife," the team said. The pythons typically grow to be six to 10 feet long in Florida, though they can exceed 20 feet in Asia, the Washington Post reports. The invasive pythons—descended from pets released in the 1980s or freed when Hurricane Andrew destroyed exotic-wildlife facilities in 1992—have been squeezing native wildlife out of the Everglades. Over the last 20 years, populations of raccoons and opossums are down are 99%, while marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits, and foxes have "effectively disappeared," researchers say. (Last year, biologists were stunned by what they found inside a python.)