Two of the most interesting animals on this planet are snakes and crocodiles. Humans tend to be naturally afraid of them, so their smart, and ferocious ways, make them perfect for scary movies. Are they actually as frightening as they appear in the movies? Well, this story shows that may be even more scary.
Pythons keep a diet of small animals such as rodents and lizards, and if they’re in populated areas, they’ll eat farm animals, too. Pythons that are of a larger species have even been known to eat grazing mammals like antelope. What would happen if the python tried eating something that wasn’t just big, but deadly, as well? What happens when two predators encounter each other?
While visiting Africa, photographers found themselves in a situation where they were asking those same questions. The stumbled upon a battle between a python and a crocodile. Pythons only eat a few times a year, due to their slow digestion process, but when they are hungry, you better watch out! Apparently this python figured he found his next meal, but that crocodile won’t go down that easily.
Once they reach full size, crocodiles and pythons don’t usually have any predators. They’re both pretty fast and stealthy, and are given protection from an animal’s bite by using their tough skin. With that being said, only large cats, like tigers and leopards, have been known to have them for dinner. But is it possible for another reptile to eat a massive crocodile?
There are two stages to how a python subdues its prey. First, they wrap themselves around their victim. They then tighten their body so they can constrict its prey’s movement. Even though they can break bones, asphyxiation is usually what kills their prey. But crocodiles are able to go a long time without breathing, and they have razor sharp teeth that could rip open the snake. The snake could regret this.
The snake overlooks the danger to its life, and grabs behind the skull of the crocodile to keep him in place. The python then opens its mouth nice and big to begin to swallow the crocodile head first. Since a python has no venom, the crocodile could end up still being alive as it’s being swallowed. A creature as powerful as a crocodile can surely escape that hold!
The python has one more trick up its sleeve. A python has backward-curving teeth that act like a hook, keeping the crocodile in place, making sure it doesn’t free itself. In its stomach, and gullet, are strong, expandable muscles that help move the prey along. It appears that there is no hope for the crocodile, but nothing is set in stone, yet. Actually, a few months later something unexpected seemed to happen.
While riding his bike, a man stumbled upon an unbelievable sight. He witnessed a huge python, that was made immobile by the size of its last meal, dead on the side of the road. The man contacted the researchers of the reserve and let them know what he had found. They were shocked when they arrived at the scene.
It appeared that the python the man found was the same python that had eaten the crocodile. But this time, it looked like the python would not get to enjoy his meal. The researchers wondered if the pythons eyes were much too big for his stomach this time. In Florida, a Burmese python once exploded from a eating a crocodile, after all. They would have to do something a bit unpleasant in order to get the answer.
The researchers used a razor to slice the python open in order to solve the mystery of the snake’s last meal. According to the size of the snake’s stomach it could have eaten a warthog, an impala, or even a deer. When they looked inside the stomach, they realized they were wrong. They found a huge amount of flesh, that had thick fur, and was as big as a dog. What could it be?
They needed to examine a bit closer. When they continued their investigation, they found spines and quills! The snake had eaten a giant porcupine! Cape porcupines are one of the largest species of porcupine in the world and the largest rodent in Africa. Imagine what the snake went through in order to swallow that porcupine! Seeing the sharp quills, researchers quickly realized what most likely killed the snake.
Cape porcupines that are fully grown can weigh up to 66 pounds and can be quite vicious if provoked. They have two-inch long, hollow spines that they shake like a rattlesnake tail to keep away predators. They also have short, defensive quills, that could’ve been used to puncture the snake’s organs. What possessed the snake to eat an animal that was so heavily armored?
It seems that pythons will take advantage of whatever prey is in front of them, including porcupines. They’re known to eat full-grown antelopes, and of course, they’re open to attacking dangerous crocodiles, as well. Even though this is true, it’s kind of hard to believe that the snake would have no problem munching on a heavy armored animal, like a porcupine.
It’s unbelievable, but apparently porcupines are a regular food choice for pythons. Pythons are able to alter their metabolism to better digest their prey, which makes them a pretty resilient animal. They even have the ability to make their organs smaller, so they can eat bigger meals. Even the quills are safely excreted after all of the flesh has been dissolved. Maybe he didn’t die from eating the porcupine!
While checking out the area, researchers realized the snake had most likely fallen off of the rocky ledge he was found under. Even though they’re flexible animals, their organs are fragile and can be damaged if slammed into a hard enough surface. The snake was already bloated because of his dinner, which could have prevented his ability to keep from falling. Luckily, his death, and the deaths of his prey, was not in vain.
The porcupine was removed, and the snake was taken to be studied. Using data that they collect, researchers will be able to gather information on this species behavior, especially their eating habits. Even though they’re not endangered, people tend to kill pythons out of fear. In order to be peaceful with this creature, it’s important to find out how and why they act.