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Python Bursts after Trying to Swallow Gator
The carcass of a six-foot American alligator is protruding from the mid-section of a 13-foot Burmese python Monday, Sept. 26, 2005 in Everglades National Park, Fla., after the snake apparently swallowed the alligator resulting in the deaths of both animals.

The tail of an alligator protruding from the ruptured gut of a python, which had swallowed its foe alive, bore witness to a fierce and unusual battle between two of the deadliest predators in Florida's swamps.

Park rangers, who photographed the remains of the two huge reptiles in the Everglades National Park, said the clash demonstrates the threat to the fragile swamplands posed by a growing population of non-native Burmese pythons.

Pythons, thought to have been abandoned by pet owners, have been multiplying in the large swamp, and environmentalists fear the exotic intruders may overrun the national park, preying on native species.

The latest find suggest the huge pythons might even challenge alligators' leading position in the food chain.

Park biologist Skip Snow described the gruesome scene he found on September 27 in a remote corner of the Everglades park, which he said showed a Burmese python almost four metres long had "apparently" entirely swallowed an alligator about half his size.

"I say apparently because the tail and hind limbs of the dead alligator were protruding from a hole in the mid-body of the dead python," said Mr Snow.

"Although some bones of the jaw were present, the head of the python was missing," he said in a field report, illustrated with graphic photographs.

The photographs show the hind quarters of the alligator protruding from the snake's mid-section.

"The stomach of the python still surrounded the head, shoulders, and forelimbs of the alligator," said Mr Snow.

"When extracted from the snake, the alligator was largely intact except for two open wounds, one to the top of the skull behind the eyes and one on the shoulder," he said.

It was unclear how the python's gut was ruptured, or how the snake died.

Park officials have removed dozens of Burmese pythons from the Everglades over the past years, and are training a Beagle, nicknamed "Python Pete," to track the exotic invaders.






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