If the 16-foot Burmese python was easy to capture and kill, it might have been because the snake had just consumed a 76-pound deer in the South Florida Everglades.
Burmese pythons are one of many invasive wildlife species in Florida and officials would like to remove as many as possible.
The unusually large python was discovered Thursday by workers with the South Florida Water Management District.
They contacted officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, who captured and killed the snake with a shotgun blast. It had a 44-inch girth where the deer had settled, fully intact.
Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the commission, told the Sun-Sentinel said pythons this large are rare, and downplayed the danger to humans posed by the presence of pythons.
"I would never say the danger is zero," Hardin said. "If a snake that size wrapped you up you'd be in trouble. But snakes that size are extremely rare. The ones brought in here are in the four- to eight-foot range."
The giant python was found in the western portion of Miami-Dade County. Burmese pythons are believed to have gained a foothold because of pet owners who illegally turn the reptiles loose after they become too large or bothersome to be cared for as pets.
-- Image is courtesy of South Florida Water Management District