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This Huge Python Swallowed a Deer That Was 111% Its Size

Courtesy Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Nature, when viewed in the context of very large snakes, ranges from the terrifying to the majestic. But researchers in south Florida enjoyed a brush with the undeniably shocking when they encountered a Burmese Python engorged with a white-tailed deer, marking what's potentially the largest predator/prey weight ratio ever documented for the particular species of snake. 

The discovery was initially made by researchers from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in April 2015, however the findings are forthcoming in the March 2018 issue of Herpetological Review. The 31.5-pound, 11-foot, female Burmese Python was found, as the Conservancy writes in a news release, in Collier-Seminole State Park "visibly distended by a large food bulge." Moved to a secure location, the snake began regurgitating a 35-pound 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” said Ian Bartoszek, Conservancy of Southwest Florida wildlife biologist in a statement. 

The size disparity between the predator and prey is laid bare in the photo below. 

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

The fawn, which had its head partially digested at the time of discovery, had a body mass of 15.88 kilograms, making it 111.1% the mass of the python. 

Researchers are primarily concerned about the effect of invasive Burmese Pythons preying upon white-tailed deer, and Southwest Florida's endangered population of Florida panthers. The conservancy indicates that according to some studies, the Burmese Python is responsible for 90% decline in small mammal population of the eastern Everglades. 

Bartoszek echoed that sentiment, saying:

“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.”

That being said, it's always comforting to know there's a place in this country where 11-foot serpents are literally invasive and capable of swallowing much larger animals. 

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster