Biologists noticed some unexpected behavior on trail cam footage recently: A male bobcat was captured in images raiding and destroying an invasive Burmese python’s nest, then batting at the reptile when she returned to protect the brood. The event is believed to be the first ever evidence of an animal fighting back against a python in the Florida Everglades.
The footage, captured by the U.S. Geological Survey in Big Cypress National Preserve, shows the brave 20-pound bobcat returning to the nest multiple times to inspect and feast on the eggs. He did return on one occasion to find the serpent on the nest, and initially steered clear. The wild cat must have been desperate for a meal a couple of days later, however, because he’s spotted swatting at the nesting python in an attempt to access her eggs.
The USGS report stated, “Over the course of several days, the male bobcat can be seen ‘consuming, trampling, caching, and uncovering the eggs’ while the python is gone, but also confronting the much larger snake and trading blows on at least on occasion.”
When biologists returned to the nest several days later, the nest had been completely obliterated, with 42 of the python’s eggs described as “inviable and destroyed.” The study, led by Dr. Andrea Currlow, has since been published in Ecology and Evolution.
Watch the footage below (skip to 3:45 to see the moment the bobcat encounters the python on her nest):
Burmese pythons are one of roughly 500 invasive species that now call Florida home. Found in and around the Everglades, these colossal constrictors pose a significant threat to native wildlife, and are hugely problematic. Since their proliferation, the sunshine state has seen a dramatic and concerning drop in mammal population numbers within the National Park. We can only hope that bobcats can help restore the balance of the Everglades by continuing to prey upon the invasive reptiles.
Watch the video below to learn more about this invasive snake (skip to 0:32 to see another bobcat facing off with one):