Florida officials were in for a surprise when a 76-pound deer was found fully intact in the belly of a 16-foot Burmese python killed in the Everglades.
According to the (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, the snake was captured and killed by state officials, who were working to keep species — invasive to South Florida — from spreading north.
The python measured 44 inches around with the deer inside. It was discovered by workers wading through a tree island to remove non-native plants.
An ambush predator, the python stalked deer trails and struck as the animal, a female, walked by, striking with its sharp, backwards pointing teeth and crushing it with its coils before consuming it, said Skip Snow, biologist and python specialist at Everglades National Park.
Burmese pythons have become an invasive species in South Florida following a boom in the exotic pet business, being released by owners into the wild after the pythons grow too large for captivity.
The pythons primarily feed on small mammals and birds, but larger snakes have been known to take deer, hogs and even alligators. Snow said although pythons have been discovered with deer remains inside, it was the first time a snake had been captured after just consuming a deer, and showed the large prey wild pythons are able to take.