The intimidatingly long Florida pine snake is rarely encountered in the wild, but a sighting happened in Ocala National Forest — with a grisly twist.
A pine snake was seen Oct. 26 shoving another animal down its throat, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The forest is about 70 miles north of Orlando.
“An FWC ... biologist was surveying a site in the Ocala National Forest when she came to a road intersection and spotted something in the middle of the road,” the institute wrote in a Nov. 19 Facebook post.
“As the biologists approached the critter, they recognized that it was rare, nonvenomous Florida pine snake swallowing a young eastern cottontail.”
The nonvenomous snake remained in the road until it was finished eating, then slithered away, the institute reports.
It didn’t stay gone long, however.
Defying logic, it came back to the road, started investigating the biologist’s camera and posed for “some close-up shots.” It then disappeared again.
The institute shared multiple photos on social media, with some showing the snake wearing a disdainful expression as it looked into the camera.
Florida’s pine snakes are “powerful” constrictors — squeezing their prey to death — and grow to 7.5 feet, making them “one of the largest snakes in eastern North America,” the state says. The species is listed as threatened in Florida.
“The snout is pointed and has a large scale on the nose, and a pronounced ridge above the eyes makes pine snakes look ‘mean’,” FWC reports. “This species often hisses very loudly when disturbed.”
News of the rare encounter at Ocala National Forest had received about 1,700 reactions and comments as of Nov. 25, including some from people who found the snake intimidating.
“I can’t unsee this,” Peyton Bibb Evans wrote.