In the past few decades, the number of invasive Burmese pythons has exploded in South Florida, especially in the Everglades. Because they are very difficult to find and track, however, many details of their behavior and ecological impact remain sketchy, such as how native species respond to their presence.
A new photo montage from a wildlife camera in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve provides visual evidence of the Everglades “ꜰɪɢʜᴛɪɴɢ back.” The images, captured in June 2021, show a bobcat ʀᴀɪᴅɪɴɢ a python’s nest.
According to the team, their photos are the first documented instance of a bobcat — or any Florida ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀ — targeting a Burmese python nest. It’s also the first time anyone has documented a Burmese python defending its nest.
After happening upon an unguarded nest, the photos show, the curious bobcat sniffs about, scarfing a few eggs and trampling dozens more. Then he covers the nest, saving them for another day.
After leaving and returning a short while later, he finds an unwelcome surprise: The nesting python is back on guard. An image captures the roughly 14-foot, 120-pound female python stretched out in striking position, having lunged at and possibly ʙɪᴛᴛᴇɴ the 20-pound bobcat; in the next, he’s taking a swipe at her.
Given the massive size difference, the bobcat is lucky it sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇᴅ, lead researcher Andrea Currylow told National Geographic. “Luckily, the python wasn’t interested in ᴇᴀᴛɪɴɢ,” Currylow, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist, said. “But man, that’s one brave bobcat.”
Coyotes, raccoons, and bobcats have all been known to eat turkey eggs but I cannot find any evidence of bobcats targeting snake eggs as a meal like in the video above. That’s part of what makes that video above of the ꜰɪɢʜᴛ between the bobcat and Burmese python so special.
Are Bobcats Enough To Stop These Burmese Pythons From Proliferating? Nope. Definitely not. An adult Burmese Python can lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. In order to slow the spread of these invasive snakes, there needs to be a LOT more species ᴇᴀᴛɪɴɢ the eggs.