THIS is the shocking moment an alligator flipped the usual food chain and devoured a huge python.
Photos show the alligator chewing on the lifeless python in the Shark Valley area of the Everglades National Park in Florida.
Pythons are considered an invasive creature in the Everglades, with the large snakes blamed for creating havoc to 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 December 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.”
It’s not clear though if just one alligator dined on the python or if several gators took turns on having a feast.
The first picture, credited to Joel Jordon, was posted on Facebook December 20 and witnesses at the scene “watched this gator defend his prize from the other hungry gators,” Conny Randolph wrote.
Further pictures were posted later, including several to the Alligators of Florida Facebook page by Burt-Laurie Zargo, who wrote it “was a huge python.”
Burmese pythons are thought to have found their way into South Florida’s marshes via the exotic pet trade, either by escaping or being freed into the wild.
Shark Valley “is in the very heart of the Everglades freshwater marsh,” according to the National Park Service.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants the snakes eliminated, and has recommend they “be humanely killed.”
The snakes can grow up to 20 feet in length, say experts, and have been known to prey on native species, including young alligators.
Photos taken in the Everglades National Park in 2006, hit the headlines around the world when it was revealed a 13-foot Burmese python burst open while trying to swallow a 6-foot alligator.
The news that gators could now be fighting back is being applauded in some areas “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 commented.
“Score one for the gators. I enjoyed seeing this. I wish all the pythons were served up for alligator lunch,” Daryl K Tabor posted.