OCHOPEE, Fla. — Video captured in the Everglades shows a never-before-seen scuffle between two major Florida predators.
A camera set up by the U.S. Geological Survey in Big Cypress National Park caught a male bobcat snooping around one particular Burmese python nest over the course of two months.
June 1 was the first time the curious cat was seen circling the snake nest and eating some of the eggs while inspecting his surroundings. According to logs from the USGS, the animal returned several times throughout the evening to rummage through his new find.
The bobcat kept coming back over the next two days to dig at the nest and take some more eggs for snacking. That was until the evening of June 2, when the cat walked over to the nest to find the python was back on guard.
At first, the approximately 85-pound, 13-foot long python seemed to deter the bobcat, which scientists estimate to be just about 20 pounds.
But on June 4, the python apparently decided to strike at the bobcat, sparking a back-and-forth duel between the two predators.
The USGS report called the interaction the "first documentation of any animal in Florida preying on python eggs" and the first evidence of any animal fighting back against a Burmese python in the Everglades.
And while the bobcat walked away unscathed this time, it seems like he got lucky.
Considering the "size and varied diet" of the Burmese python, researchers say the "bold behavior" of the cat "had the potential to be fatal for the bobcat if the python had been interested in feeding."
When biologists returned a few days later, they moved the snake to find 42 "inviable or destroyed" eggs in the nest. While the python never returned, the bobcat did come back a few times over the coming weeks to scavenge the eggshells left behind.
Bobcats are a native Florida species. Burmese pythons, on the other hand, are an invasive species that have led to the severe decline of several mammals living in the Everglades, including bobcats, raccoons and opossums.