Wildlife conservationists and researchers were left “speechless” following the discovery of a female python carrying 122 eggs.
The snake is the biggest found in Florida, National Geographic reported on Tuesday, where an estimated thousands of Burmese pythons live in the Everglades.
Researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida were searching for large female pythons at the time of the find in December.
A necropsy conducted in April found 122 eggs in the female snake, as well as the hoof of an adult white-tailed deer – her last meal.
Researchers said they were “near speechless” when they first tried weighing the female, believing their scales were broken.
“I thought the scale was broken,” said conservancy intern Kyle Findley of the python, which came in at 215lbs and 18ft in length, and with an almost six inch skull.
“I’m reading 215 pounds,” Ian Bartoszek, a wildlife biologist and manager of the python project, said of the snake, whose widest part measured 25 inches.
The aim of the python project is to control the population of the invasive species, which are known to feast on local wildlife including deer.
A male “scout snake” was used to lure the female out of her hiding place in the wetlands, where pythons were allegedly released in the 1970s as pets.
More than 15,000 of the species have been captured by Florida Fish & Wildlife since 2000, and total estimates are uncertain.
“That’s the ten-million-dollar question,” Mr Bartoszek told National Geographic. “We don’t even know the order of magnitude… The Everglades are a haystack, and the [eggs] are the needles. To find a needle, we use a magnet.”