Friday, 25 May 2007

Snake explodes after swallowing alligator

Thanks to Janine for pointing out this story of a python which burst open after gobbling up a Florida gator.

The strange scene was found by park rangers in the Everglades National Park. The Burmese python is likely an escaped pet or perhaps a descendant of one. In recent years many guilt-ridden owners release their exotic pets into the hot and wet swampy environment because they are no longer able to take care of them and do not want them put down.

Because pythons are not natural to the environment, the rangers suspect that they challenge the alligators' position as apex predators in the food chain. Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor, says "Encounters like that are almost never seen in the wild. They were probably evenly matched in size. If the python got a good grip on the alligator before the alligator got a good grip on him, he could win." He also suggested that the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach, leading it to burst.

This is not the first encounter between the two giant reptiles, at least three other similar incidents have been recorded in the past.

The picture (click to enlarge) depicts a 2m long alligator partially swallowed by 4m long python, whose belly ruptured during the process. The victim's tail and hindlimbs are protruding from the predator’s burst abdomen. The head of the python was missing, perhaps due to scavenging by other wildlife.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder if one day I won't share the python's fate ;-)

Seriously, Florida has an unfortunate combination of excellent weather and affluent pet enthusiasts... Just to use fish as an example, there's healthy breeding populations of everything from walking catfish to predatory cichlids in Florida waters (30-odd species at last count) none of which should be there and most of which give native fish all sorts of trouble. Add to that some 40-plus exotic reptile/amphibian species and it makes you wonder what the faunal composition of that part of the continent is going to be like in a couple million years...

Carlos "can't deal with the annoying 'google/blogger' thing" Grau

Laelaps said...

Yikes! Thanks for sharing this. If someone isn't doing it already, there should be a definite study on the invasive species and their impact in the Everglades; it's a war-zone in there!

Neil said...

I've run into some massive dumped iguanas down in the keys. They appeared quite content.

"The Burmese python is likely an escaped pet or perhaps a descendant of one."

Is there any evidence that feral pythons have established a breeding population down there!? I'd be pretty surprised if that badass snake wasn't a released pet. Though it looks like there is at least one case of parthenogenesis in burmese pythons....

As much damage as invasives have (and will) wreak, I'd doubt that even the infamous snakehead can hold a candle to the 'drain and pave' mantra of FL developers.

foxy vegan said...

This is a tragic scene. The python was in the wild because of some stupid human that released him cause he/she was not a good pet anymore. How far can human stupidity go? geeez

Dwacon said...

Ewwww!

Gufo said...

Woah!

that must have been a hell of struggle. Talk about mud wrestling... :-)

Sarda, thanks for sharing w/ us!

Neil said...

Sure enough...pythons breed in the Everglades! Shows what I know. Hope you can return to the blogosphere soon Sarda!

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