Last Thursday, work crews in Miami-Dade County, Fla. discovered a 16-foot Burmese python in the process of digesting a fully-grown deer on a tree island in the Everglades.
The crews shot and killed the satiated snake not long after it had swallowed a 76-pound doe. Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, told the Associated Press that it was an important capture and kill for stopping the spread of pythons further north.
It was the largest intact prey ever discovered in a Burmese python in Florida. “It shows you they can eat huge things,” python expert Skip Snow rather obviously told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel after he conducted the autopsy on the snake.
Burmese pythons are threatening to become the top predator in the Everglades. The snakes started to have a presence in the region in the mid-1990s, after overwhelmed exotic pet owners released some into the wild.
The pythons are currently restricted to southern Florida, but researchers are concerned about the prospect that the species is interbreeding with the man-eating African rock python, yielding an extremely aggressive hybrid.