Massive 500-pound ball of mating pythons discovered in Florida

Talk about a wild discovery.

A team of wildlife experts in Southwest Florida came across a huge pile of snakes in a marsh that totaled 500 pounds.

The startling sight took place on Feb. 21 in Naples, where 11 Burmese pythons – including one more than 16 feet long – were found wound up together, in a mating ball, that was 7 feet wide, according to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Facebook page.

The event happened during National Invasive Species Awareness Week, according to the conservancy, which the Miami Herald said, has diligently worked for years to remove the invasive snakes from the region.

The team closely monitors snakes during the breeding season, using active searching and telemetry to remove the pythons before the females can lay their eggs.

“For 10 years, we’ve been catching and putting them [Burmese pythons] down humanely,” conservatory biologist and wildlife spokesperson Ian Bartoszek said in the post. “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.”

Since 2013, the team has captured and removed more than 34,000 pounds of python from the region.

As you might’ve guessed, Florida is home to thousands of non-native species of plants and animals.

“When these introduced species reproduce in the wild and cause economic, social, or ecological disturbance, they reach invasive status,” the group wrote in the post.

Burmese pythons are so invasive and destructive that the United States Geological Survey has labeled the reptile as one of the most concerning invasive species in South Florida, especially in Everglades National Park, where they eat everything, but nothing goes after them.

In fact, since 1997, the pythons have been responsible for a steep decline in raccoons, bobcat, and opossum populations.

“The mammals that have declined most significantly have been regularly found in the stomachs of Burmese pythons removed from Everglades National Park and elsewhere in Florida,” the federal agency posted on its webpage.

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