Python pops after eating gator

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Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Scientists report that alligators might not be as effective as hoped in controlling the burmese python population in the Florida Everglades. A six foot alligator was found with its rear half hanging from the belly of a 13-foot python last week. Because of injuries on the alligator's body, Frank Mazotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor, believes that the gator was injured but alive when the python attacked.

"Encounters like that are almost never seen in the wild. ... And here we are, it's happened for the fourth time," Mazzotti said. These remains were discovered September 26 by pilot and researcher Michael Barron.

The non-native pythons are often released by individuals who are ill-equipped to care for the pet when it has grown more than expected. Iguanas present similar problems. The invading species often consume natives like the alligator, or tropical flowers, in the case of the iguanas.

While some have expressed concern that children are in danger from these pythons, Joe Wasilewski, a wildlife biologist and crocodile tracker, says it's not a great issue. "I don't think this is an imminent threat. This is not a 'Be afraid, be very afraid' situation."