Researchers in Florida have captured a "monstrous" python measuring five metres in length and carrying 87 eggs.
The snake, caught in the Everglades National Park, weighed 75kg. It is the largest Burmese python ever caught in America and the number of eggs it was was carrying is also a record.
"Previous records for Burmese pythons captured in the state were 16.8 feet long and 85 eggs," researchers from the University of Florida and the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) said in a statement on 13 August.
"This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, who took part in the capture and examination of the snake.
The researchers found the eggs during an anatomical examination of the animal, carried out as part of a project which aims to understand and manage the state's invasive Burmese python problem.
Burmese Python Problem in Everglades
According to researchers, the population of Burmese pythons has been increasing rapidly since they were first found in the Everglades in 1979.
"They were here 25 years ago, but in very low numbers and it was difficult to find one because of their cryptic behavior. Now, you can go out to the Everglades nearly any day of the week and find a Burmese python. We've found 14 in a single day," Krysko said.
"[The discovery] means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble. A 17.5-foot snake could eat anything it wants," he added.
The record number of eggs found in the python suggests the Burmese pythons possess enormous reproductive capacity, which could aid in their invasiveness - even posing a threat to humans.
"By learning what this animal has been eating and its reproductive status, it will hopefully give us insight into how to potentially manage other wild Burmese pythons in the future. It also highlights the actual problem, which is invasive species," Krysko concluded.