WESTERN MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) — A Burmese python was found in the Everglades with not one but three white-tailed deer in its guts, and researchers are in awe.
According to Live Science, a research article published in November by REABIC BioInvasions Records found that the invasive Burmese python found in the Everglades was the first of its kind to ever be caught with three deer in its intestines.
Researchers said the 15.6-foot-long female python, weighing in at more than 100 pounds, was almost done digesting the deer when officials caught and euthanized it in Western Miami-Dade, back on June 3, 2013.
At the time, researchers identified remains to match those of white-tailed deer after testing. They also found three sets of white-tail deer hooves in its intestines.
Using the hooves as a starting point, scientists were able to determine that one of the deer, a doe, weighed as much as 99 pounds. The other two were fawns weighing 37 and 29 pounds.
Scott Boback, an associate professor of biology at Dickinson College, is the study’s co-lead author. He explained that the python probably attacked and ate the deer at different times over a 90-day period.
Although pythons can digest bone, they cannot digest hooves or anything made of keratin or enamel.
What makes swallowing three full deer in three months so surprising to researchers and biologists is that pythons normally do not eat this much in such a short time period. Prior to this study, scientists had assumed that pythons could only eat an animal as big as a deer once before digesting and going after a new meal.
“If this one snake was capable of doing that, how about all of the other hundreds of thousands of pythons in the Everglades? What are they doing?” said Boback. “This is at least suggestive that there could be a pretty significant effect of these pythons on the whitetail deer population in the Everglades.”
Experts said the snake was likely hiding in the water, stalking its prey.
According to Live Science, Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia.
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