Soldiers based in the eastern Bolivian town of Montero stumbled onto a boa constrictor 3 meters (9.8 feet) long that had just given birth to 60 offspring, authorities said.

The snakes were found Tuesday near the barracks by members of the Ranger regiment, the chief of biodiversity for Santa Cruz province told the media.

Authorities took the mother and babies to a animal protection center, but they will be released back into the wild later, Raul Rojas said, pointing out that boa constrictors are useful in controlling the rat population.

Montero, a center of intensive sugarcane production, is about 50 kilometers from Santa Cruz city, Bolivia's most populous and prosperous municipality. EFE