This is crazy. Live Science is reporting that a 15 foot Burmese python was captured and euthanized in the Florida Everglades and wildlife officials discovered three (THREE!) deer in her digestive system.
The gustatory feat sets a record: It’s the first invasive Burmese python(Python molurus bivittatus) caught with three deer in its gut, said study co-lead author Scott Boback, an associate professor of biology at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
The python probably attacked and ate the deer at different times over a 90-day period, Boback said. That time span may seem long, but it’s actually quite surprising that a snake would eat three enormous meals in a relatively short window, Boback told Live Science.
Burmese pythons (as their name suggests) are not native to Florida, but the Everglades are a perfect habitat for them. The snakes are popular as pets for reptile enthusiasts though. Some people think the population that has taken up residence in the Everglades came in part from pets that escaped as a result of the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“If a python is capable of eating three deer in three months,” what else are they eating that we don’t know about, he asked. “We don’t even know how many of them are out there [in the Everglades].”
Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia, but for reasons still shrouded in mystery, they became established in the Everglades during the 1990s. The snakes can grow to be up to 18 feet (5.5 meters) long in the Everglades (and up to 26 feet, or 8 m, long in Southeast Asia). They use their strong muscles to wrap around prey, obstructing their victims’ blood flow until circulation stops.
Live Science has a photo gallery showing the scientists’ examination of the hungry serpent.
The state of Florida has permitted hunting of the intruding snakes in order to reduce their population which is estimated to be in the thousands.
This year, 102 pythons were nabbed, the largest one measuring 15 feet and weighing 125 pounds.
All the snakes captured were killed and turned over to researchers trying to find clues to help control the python population. Once researchers finished examining them, the hunters could reclaim their dead snakes.
Burmese pythons are an invasive species that are having a devastating effect on native birds and mammals in the Everglades. They have even been found to eat alligators.