An alligator is being cheered on social media after it was photographed eating an invasive python in the Shark Valley area of the Everglades National Park.
Multiple photos posted on Facebook show the alligator chewing on a lifeless python at the water’s edge.
Pythons are an unwelcome species in the Everglades, with the large snakes credited with creating havoc in the South Florida’s ecosystem.
“This generally doesn’t happen. For a gator to eat prey this big he/she has to tear it into bite-sized pieces — and a python doesn’t tear easily,” the South Florida Wildlands Association posted Dec. 30.
“Often the gator is hopelessly wrapped up by the python and in the process of being swallowed before it even knew what happened,” the association wrote. “We’re hoping that our native Florida gators have learned a trick or two and will become a first line of defense against this extremely destructive invasive.”
What’s not clear is if it’s one instance of a gator eating a python, or if multiple alligators took turns eating the snake’s carcass.
The first of the images — credited to Joel Jordan — was posted Dec. 20, and witnesses at the scene “watched this gator defend his prize from the other hungry gators,” Conny Randolph wrote.
More photos followed, including a series posted on the Alligators of Florida Facebook page by Burt-Laurie Zargo, who wrote it “was a huge python.”
Burmese pythons are large invasive snakes that found their way into South Florida’s marshes via the exotic pet trade, either by escaping or being freed.
Shark Valley, where the photos were taken, “is in the very heart of the Everglades freshwater marsh,” the National Park Service says.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants the snakes eliminated, and has recommend they “be humanely killed.” The snakes can reach 20 feet in length, experts say, and are known to easily gobble up native species.
This includes young alligators. In 2006, photos taken in Everglades National Park made international news, when it was revealed a 13-foot Burmese python burst open while trying to swallow a 6-foot alligator, National Geographic reported.
News that gators may be fighting back is being applauded as “nature’s form of pest control.”
“I think the gator population has had enough harassment from the exotic intruders,” Explore Big Cypress wrote on Facebook.
“Food chain…the way God created it,” Sandra Christensen wrote.
“Score one for the gators. I enjoyed seeing this. I wish all the pythons were served up for alligator lunch,” Daryl K Tabor posted.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)