The Burmese python in Florida, US continues to amaze the scientists as well as people. Recently, as per a report in sciencealert.com a group of scientists in Florida opened up one such snake and found an intact alligator 5-foot-long. The snake measuring 18 feet had swallowed the whole gator.
In an Instagram post, Florida-based geoscientist Rosie Moore mentioned that the euthanized python which had a bulging stomach was handed for necropsy to a research laboratory. The objective was to gather scientific samples and find out about the diet of these pythons.
The discovery, which was made during a routine wildlife survey, has left experts both fascinated and horrified. While it’s not uncommon for pythons to eat alligators in the wild, it’s extremely rare to find one with such a large prey still alive inside.
An entire 5-foot alligator was found inside an 18-foot Burmese python in Florida. The clip was shared by geoscientist Rosie Moore on Instagram. "This particular python was roughly 18-foot and had consumed a 5-foot alligator" pic.twitter.com/PeNhaY9PMp
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The team of researchers, led by Dr. Michael Dorcas of Davidson College in North Carolina, had been studying the invasive species of pythons that have been wreaking havoc on the delicate ecosystem of the Everglades for years. They had been tracking several large pythons through the dense swamp when they stumbled upon the massive snake with its bloated belly.
At first, the researchers thought they had discovered a ԀᴇɑԀ alligator that had been eaten by the python. However, upon closer inspection, they realized that the alligator was still alive and thrashing inside the python’s stomach.
The team quickly captured the python and euthanized it to prevent any harm to the alligator. They then carefully extracted the alligator from the python’s stomach and released it back into the wild.
Dr. Dorcas, who has been studying pythons in the Everglades for over a decade, called the encounter “mind-boggling” and “unprecedented.” He explained that while pythons have been known to eat alligators, it’s extremely rare to find one with such a large prey still alive inside.
More in her post writes: “These snakes have successfully invaded ecologically sensitive areas such as Everglades National Park. This poses a threat to a variety of wildlife, due to the pythons’ wide dietary preferences.”
Mike Kirkland, who is an invasive species biologist and manages South Florida Water Management District’s programme to eliminate pythons informed that besides eating the native wildlife, “they’re also outcompeting native animals for food.”
One of the largest snakes in the world, the Burmese pythons came into being in Florida as pet owners who were unable to handle them when they became big released these creatures. With no predators and suitable subtropical climate, these released snakes thrived.
The result of their proliferation is that today there are 100 licensed python hunters who are paid to catch and ᴋɪʟʟ them.
Blessed with a broad diet, they can eat small as well big creatures like alligators and white-tailed deer. The latter becomes feasible as their jaws can expand wide to swallow bodies much bigger than theirs.