Florida Keys

Biscayne Bay isn’t a python’s usual habitat, but park rangers found one taking a swim

Biscayne National Park biologists netted a large Burmese python swimming about a mile off the mainland this week.

The snake was 11 feet long and weighed 31 pounds, according to a post on the park’s Facebook page.

The Park Service says the invasive snakes are not found in the Biscayne Bay area too often, but it’s not unheard of either. They’re more common in the Everglades, where their population has exploded since the late 1980s.

The snakes were originally introduced into the South Florida wild when pet owners released them because they became too large for untrained reptile handlers to care for. They have thrived here because the climate is similar to that of their native habitat.

Scientists estimate there may be as many as 30,000 invasive pythons in the Everglades, preying on native species like raccoons, rabbits and other small animals, as well as larger species like deer.

A dead 12.5-foot python was photographed in 2005 after it had ingested an alligator in the Everglades.

In the Florida Keys, wildlife officials blame pythons, as well as feral cats, for making it difficult for native endangered Key Largo woodrats and cotton mice to rebound.

Park officials could not be immediately reached to respond to questions about the fate of the snake caught in the bay.