A new Everglades contest has begun: cat versus snake
Bobcat predating Burmese python eggs is a significant first and could benefit Florida’s native wildlife.
First sighted in the Everglades National Park, Florida, USA, in the 1990s and not recorded as breeding there until 2000, Burmese pythons have since caused major declines in birds, mammals and other reptiles.
These huge snakes compete with native wildlife for food and eat creatures such as raccoons and opossums which – like pythons – often forage at the water’s edge in Florida’s subtropical swamps.
The import of Burmese pythons as exotic pets to the US is now banned and Florida has removed restrictions on hunting them, but their population continues to swell. That makes trail camera footage of a native bobcat taking eggs from a python nest potentially very significant.
The event was captured by a US Geological Survey (USGS) team last summer. It showed that after eating some python eggs one evening when the female snake was temporarily absent.
The bobcat then returned the following night, and there was a fight, with the snake lunging at the feline and the bobcat making a swiping blow.
Florida ecologists now say that since cats in general can be very flexible in their diet, it’s possible that bobcats could make python eggs a regular food choice, with potential benefits for other native species.
Main image: A wild bobcat in Florida. © Hillary Kladke/Getty