A wildlife surveillance camera captures a male Florida bobcat deciding it’s time for an omelet at the nest of an invasive Burmese python. For two days, the native cat is seen “repeatedly approaching the unguarded nest and consuming, trampling, caching, and uncovering the eggs,” according to a newly published study.
According to the Miami Herald, the bobcat feasted on eggs for hours on the first day. Then, the same cat returned again at midnight.
Later, the 120-pound python returns, and the bobcat’s curiosity takes hold. Eventually, the cat and snake have a face-off, and guess who wins in this altercation? It’s known that Burmese pythons are sometimes predators of bobcats. However, the reverse can also be true.
A First of its Kind Video for Florida
The scene is the swampy Big Cypress National Preserve in the Florida Everglades. There, researchers set up a trail camera as part of a study into depredation and nest defense behavior from June to September 2021. Early on, they captured the rare scene from June 1 to June 4 after the bobcat triggered the camera.
Notably, native bobcats (Lynx rufus) have been known to consume bird eggs. On the other hand, capturing video of any animal taking python eggs in Florida has thus far been elusive –until now. According to the Herald, it’s also the first time anyone has documented a Burmese python defending its nest.
According to the study:
“This is the first documentation of any animal in Florida preying on python eggs, and the first evidence or description of such antagonistic interactions at a python nest.”
At about 3:43 into the clip (see video below), the python guards its nest, coiled up over the eggs. Then, the bobcat begins taunting the snake. Thereafter, the skirmish went on during the night, so the struggle was real for hours. As you watch, the cat swats at the python from two sides as the snake appears ready to strike.
🐆 Bobcat Vs. Python 🐍
According to the researchers, the relatively small male bobcat could easily have become prey for a python of this size.
“Considering the size and varied diet of Burmese pythons in Florida, such bold behavior by the bobcat around a large python had the potential to be fatal for the bobcat if the python had been interested in feeding.”
By the end of the video, an opossum and rat have also come to investigate the deserted nest.
As described by the study, a bobcat returned to the nest scene for weeks, “investigating the site and scavenging the destroyed eggs and eggshells left by the biologists.” Fortunately, all of the eggs were unviable. As invasive pythons, these creatures have harmful effects on native Florida ecosystems and native wildlife like bobcats.
Generally, Burmese pythons are removed immediately, making studying wild python nesting habits virtually impossible. Most likely, the chance for animals like the bobcat to take python eggs is also very rare. Most of the time, the study suggests pythons guard the nest during brooding, leaving only briefly.
Video from CBS Miami: