Wildlife biologists from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida recently released a set of images showing a Burmese python they captured in Collier-Seminole State Park in 2015.
The researchers were combing the park in April of that year when they came across an 11-foot female snake sᴡᴀʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ a baby deer whole. When they later weighed the snake and its ᴘʀᴇʏ separately, they discovered that the fawn actually weighed more than 4lbs more than the snake. That’s a surprise!
The python weighed 31.5lbs while the fawn weighed 35lbs – the largest Burmese python-to-ᴘʀᴇʏ ratio documented to date. And this is perhaps the largest one for the whole species of python as well.
Once the snake was moved to an open area, it started to ʀᴇɢᴜʀɢɪɢᴀᴛᴇ its meal, but the scientists say it would have been able to keep it down it if hadn’t been disturbed.
When the snake moved to a large area, it began to ᴅᴇᴠᴏᴜʀ its meal. However, the scientists say the snake would have been able to finish the meal if hadn’t been disturbed. The snake was subsequently ᴄᴀᴜɢʜᴛ and ᴇᴜᴛʜᴀɴɪᴢᴇᴅ.
The Conservancy recently released images of the find, which they write about in an upcoming article in the March 2018 issue of the Herpetologist Review.
Non-native Burmese pythons have established a breeding population in South Florida and are one of the most concerning invasive species in Everglades National Park. Pythons compete with native wildlife for food, which includes mammals, birds, and other reptiles. Severe mammal declines in Everglades National Park have been linked to Burmese pythons.
The most severe declines in native species have occurred in the remote southernmost regions of Everglades National Park, where pythons have been established the longest. In a 2012 study, populations of raccoons had dropped 99.3 percent, opossums 98.9 percent, and bobcats 87.5 percent since 1997. Marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits, and foxes effectively ᴅɪsᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴇᴅ.
The mammals that have declined most significantly have been regularly found in the stomachs of Burmese Pythons removed from Everglades National Park and elsewhere in Florida. Raccoons and opossums often forage for food near the water’s edge, which is a habitat frequented by pythons in search of prey.