Burmese Python in Florida Eats Deer Bigger Than Snake Itself

What to Know

  • The white-tailed deer weighed more than the Burmese python itself.

  • The python was found in Collier Seminole State Park by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida

  • The Burmese python is an invasive species that regularly consume prey of native animals like panthers.

Shocking images that show a Burmese python ingesting a white-tailed deer bigger than the snake itself have rattled biologists, who say the record-breaking find carries broad implications for the threat of the invasive snakes on South Florida wildlife.

The python weighed 31.5 pounds, while the deer weighed 35, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said.

“This is believed to be the largest predator/prey ratio ever documented for the Burmese python, and possibly for any species of python,” the Conservancy, who documented the discovery, said.

Officials found the 11-foot Burmese python on April 7, 2015 at Collier-Seminole State Park. The snake was distinguishable by a large food bulge, which caused it to become swollen and "visibly distended," according to wildlife biologists and land managers at the park.

The snake was caught and transferred to an open area. That's when it began to regurgitate the fawn.

“This observation is another important piece of evidence for the negative impact invasive Burmese pythons are having on native wildlife across the Greater Everglades Ecosystem” Ian Bartoszek, Conservancy of Southwest Florida wildlife biologist, said in a report.

“Imagine the potential consequences to the state and federally protected Florida panther if Burmese pythons adversely affect the number of white-tailed deer, a panther’s primary prey.”

Burmese pythons have posed a threat to South Florida wildlife since their emergence in the region in the 1990s. Some studies have shown a severe decline in mammals -- such as bobcats, rabbits and deer -- with the proliferation of Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

Not only that, but wildlife officials say the invasive species regularly eat prey that’s important for the functioning of native and endangered South Florida animals, such as the Florida panther.

In 2013, researchers discovered a Burmese python in the Everglades with the remnants of three white-tailed deer in its body. That finding was believed to be the first documented case of a Burmese python containing the remains of multiple white-tailed deer.

The new findings from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will be published in the March 2018 issue of Herpetological Review, the organization said. According to a statement, the find also looks into whether the Burmese python can negatively affect the population of white-tailed deer by preying on fawns before they are old enough to mate.