Wildlife workers in the Florida Everglades were surprised last week when they found a fully intact deer inside the stomach of a 16-foot Burmese python they had captured and killed.
The gigantic reptile was first spotted Thursday by workers from the South Florida Water Management District, who were removing non-native plants from the area.
According to Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the reptile that had recently consumed a 76-pound adult female deer was one of the largest ones ever found in South Florida, Fox News reported.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission caught and killed the python with a shotgun in its effort to halt the northward spread of the snakes.
With the deer inside its belly, the python weighed 215.4 pounds, and 139.1 pounds without it. It also had a girth measuring 44.1 inches with the carcass inside. From head to tail, the python, which was a female, measured 15.65 feet.
Skip Snow, a biologist and python specialist at Everglades National Park, told the Sun-Sentinel how the deer could have been killed by the snake.
The python, an ambush predator, had staked out a known deer trail. When the deer walked by, the snake presumably seized the animal in its sharp, backward-pointing teeth, crushed the deer under its weight and coiled around it, killing the deer before consuming it, Snow said.
According to the University of Florida, Burmese pythons, which are popular pets in the United States, can grow to eight feet within a year of captivity. When they become too big, inexperienced pet owners release them into the wild, where they reproduce and threaten the ecosystem, the Huffington Post reported.
Between 2006 and 2007, 418 Burmese pythons were found dead or killed in Everglades National Park. Officials have removed 1,360 Burmese pythons from the Everglades, with six removed during one week in March, according to the South Florida Water Management District.