COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — South Florida has a few fewer pythons after a big discovery in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier County this week.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said an officer was on routine patrol in the preserve Monday night.
FWC Officer Matthew Rubenstein spotted Alex McDuffie — a python contractor — catch and bag a hatchling python in the preserve.
Rubenstein said he could see that the python was a fresh hatchling, so he and McDuffie searched the area for more hatchlings.
The two of them shortly thereafter found 18 more live python hatchlings, the agency said.
Rubenstein continued his search and located a mulch pile that contained a female Burmese python on a nest.
The FWC said the mother python was sitting on 23 unhatched eggs. A few feet away from this nest was a separate nest with 74 recently-hatched eggs.
Rubenstein and the contractor removed one female python that was about 10 feet long, 18 hatchlings and 23 unhatched python eggs from the preserve.
The eggs were turned over to the Big Cypress Python research program and the mother python and hatchlings were taken by the contractor.
Rubenstein also reported that the female python from the second nest was captured by McDuffie on Tuesday night. That python was substantially larger and measured 17 feet 6 inches.
In an effort to further reduce the numbers of this invasive species, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last month that the state's annual Python Challenge will be held from Aug. 5 to 14.