COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Researchers with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida revealed a stunning find Thursday in which an 11-foot-long Burmese python was found to swallow an animal larger than itself.
"To come across a relatively small python that had such a large prey item inside, and then to actually see what it was...it was jaw-dropping," said Ian Bartoszek, a Conservancy biologist who has been researching the invasive pythons for several years.
They tell Fox 4 that this is the largest python-to-prey ratio on record.
The snake was found during a search of Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples. Bartoszek and his team came upon the snake with an enormous bulge in its belly.
The researchers moved the snake to an open area, where the snake, under stress, proceeded to regurgitate a 35-pound partially digested white tail deer.
The snake itself weighed only 31.5 pounds.
Burmese pythons are a non-native species to North America that have established a population in South Florida due to the pet trade.
"They're capable of impacting, potentially, white-tailed deer populations, which are very important to the endangered Florida panther," Bartoszek said.
Bartoszek said that while he doesn't believe the Burmese pythons can be totally eradicated from Florida, he and others are working to control them. They've radio-tagged twenty male pythons, which are leading he and his team to females and other males of the species.
"These animals are leading us to some very large egg-laying females, that we then remove and humanely euthanize," he said.
If you see a python in the wild, you're urged to report it to Florida Fish & Wildlife by calling 888-IVE-GOT1 or on IveGot1.org.