An Egg Laying Machine: Python Dissection

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has been performing studies on Burmese Pythons in an effort to control the rise of invasive species in Florida. To the outside observer, this is nothing more than ecological jibber jabber, but the team at HelloSWFL decided to go deeper than an average person would ever dare to go. We have gone into the depths of dissection, and for our trials, we have developed a better understanding and respect for what the Python Project team has been doing, and what they can hope to accomplish down the road.

For descriptions of butterflies and bunnies, look to the Easter content released earlier this month. Unfortunately for the reader, nothing exists in these paragraphs that have not had a knife plunged through the skin at least once. Warnings aside, let the fatty layers of thick skin burst into your mind as we go on a journey of blood and blood and blood and death.

As described by Ian Bartoszek, our nonchalant narrator, the point of this study is to control the growing menace of Burmese Pythons by removing them from their invasive homeland and taking notes of the true impact such a snake has on native wildlife. The focus of this particular necropsy is to look into a female python’s stomach in an effort to document her eating habits and find out how many eggs she could have potentially laid. It’s quite clear as he stands over a sliced snake that this is as normal a thing for him as puppies playing, but to the cameraman beside me, puke has started to develop where his lunch used to be. Neither is a swell sight, but the reactions do not propel similar effects in me.

As a slight portion of the eggs begins to emerge, Ian spills his speech back into the impact Pythons have on Floridian wildlife. As he puts it, in a sentence I have had stuck in my head since the statement, “We are witnessing the native wildlife being turned into giant snake”. In a way, it sounds like science fiction, but this room is no Enterprise, looking more like something out of a cheesy horror movie with an overzealous effects artist.

More eggs emerge as the final count ends in a roaring tally of 95. Ninety-Five eggs have been pulled from the inside of a snake just shy of my height and imagining myself as a female python with that amount of baby inside of me, I will admit, my stomach lurched. Luckily for my internal food reserves, Ian turns our attention away from the gory sight and slips once more into factual facts. Three tons of python, 3000 eggs, over 4 breeding seasons have been the fruit of his team’s labors, and it doesn’t look to stop until the population has been brought down to a reasonable size, possibly less if fortune prevails.

Ian ends and releases the reporting crew for a much-needed break, and as I head away at a quick pace so as to keep my insides intact, the cameraman from before bolts past with no hidden agenda, clearly never to look at large snakes the same way ever again.

For more information on the Python Project, go to: https://www.conservancy.org/our-work/science/burmese-pythons

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