A Florida journalist out on a bike ride caught a rare sight on video last month: a 15-foot-long Burmese python locked in a deadly battle with an alligator.
Joe Capozzi, a reporter for the Palm Beach Post, said he was cycling through South Florida’s Big Cypress National Reserve when he heard a series of splashes.
“It was all at once terrifying, mesmerizing and beautiful, a battle between predator and prey that at times looked as graceful as a water ballet. Once I got the iPhone video rolling, I couldn’t stop watching.”
Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill told the local CBS station that the battle of the two apex predators was nature’s version of Godzilla fighting King Kong in the swamp.
“What that python was doing, from the mid down to the tail, wrapped around that alligator, keeping him under the water and waiting for it to succumb to asphyxiation basically,” Magill told the station.
Capozzi wrote that Big Cypress invasive species expert Tony Pernas told him the battle was “pretty rare.” Capozzi also said that the snake won the battle, but that’s not always the case.
In 2013, a gator was caught on camera winning a fight with a Burmese python. And in 2006, a python managed to kill a gator, but then died when it burst open while trying to eat it.
Burmese pythons are an invasive species in Florida. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, some are pets that were released or escaped into the wild while others are descended from pythons that escaped a breeding facility destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It’s no longer legal to acquire the snakes as pets in the Sunshine State.