OCHOPEE, Fla., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A reporter in South Florida witnessed a large python battling an alligator while on a bike ride in a nature preserve in the Everglades.
Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post spotted the epic battle between the gator and the approximately 15-foot long Burmese python after hearing several loud splashes while biking in the Big Cypress National Preserve west of Miami.
"Right there, just off the edge of Loop Road, no more than 15 feet away, an alligator was rising tail first and belly up over the surface of the water and then plunging back down. It was clear it was moving against its will. Then, as the gator rolled over and sank, something else came into view: the muscular coils of a very large snake," Capozzi wrote. "It was a sight, I would learn later, that's rarely witnessed in the wild -- an alligator being attacked by a Burmese Python."
The Miami Herald reported that the last time a gator and python were seen battling in the area the gator managed to break free of the 13-foot python's stomach, snapping the snake in half.
The encounter Capozzi witnessed appeared to go much more favorably for the python as the lengthy snake coiled around the gator as it seemingly ended the scuffle by squeezing the gator to death.
"Just below, its coiled body with those distinctive giraffe spots could be seen in what I assumed was a fatal embrace with the alligator," he said.
Pythons are an invasive species in South Florida that have begun to breed and swim to different parts of the state including one 9-foot snake which was found wrapped around a dock in Biscayne Bay National Park. Pythons have also been seen in the Florida Keys, demonstrating that salt water is no barrier to their expansion.
While the species has become more common in the area, Big Cypress' invasive species expert told Capozzi that such an encounter between a python and a gator is almost unheard of.
"I've been working with invasive species since 1988 and I haven't heard of anybody telling me they witnessed a python eating an alligator. It's pretty rare," he said.