Bobcats are stealthy, nocturnal and generally suspicious of human tourists. As such, it's rare to see one on the daily tram tour of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge near Boca Raton, Florida.
It's rarer still to see a bobcat traipsing merrily down the road with a limp green iguana dangling from its mouth — but that's exactly what some Loxahatchee Refuge visitors witnessed on a Nov. 8 tram tour.
Loxahatchee visitor Vincent Sinagria snapped a photo of the rare, public display of feline feasting and shared it with the refuge's Facebook page. In a follow-up post, experts with the refuge noted that green iguanas are an invasive species in South Florida, "so this bobcat is doing good by preying upon a non-native species." (Bobcats, you are also welcome to prey upon individuals from another invasive species: the terrifying Burmese pythons roaming the Everglades.) [Top 10 Deadliest Animals]
According to the Refuge's website, bobcats are fierce hunters capable of taking down prey many times larger than they are (the average bobcat grows to about 2 to 3 feet long (0.6 to 0.9 meters) from head to butt, according to Encyclopedia Britannica). They can climb steep rocks, swim across large bodies of water and deliver pouncing death blows to their prey from distances of more than 10 feet (3 m).
Iguanas, meanwhile, are reptiles native to South America who likely arrived in Florida via the pet trade. They feed on local plants and wildlife (like bugs and mice) and occasionally freak out human Floridians by freezing and falling out of trees in winter.
If seeing a killing-machine cat chow down on a saggy-skinned lizard feels to you like the sad result of an unfair fight, consider that Florida officials have gone to even more violent lengths to rid their ecosystems of the invasive species.
Last year, a team of researchers from the University of Florida embarked upon a government-sponsored mission to develop a set of basic iguana-killing practices that could one day inform the general public. After killing about 250 lizards in the name of science, the researchers found that bashing an iguana's head against a hard object like a car or boat proved to be the most effective and humane way to destroy iguanas.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Brandon is the space/physics editor at Live Science. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, CBS.com, the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona, with minors in journalism and media arts. He enjoys writing most about space, geoscience and the mysteries of the universe.
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