This story won’t fail to dispel your scepticism about just how different a short stay in Oceania would be. During a kayaking expedition not far from the town of Mount Isa in the north of Australia, Martin Muller noticed an enormous olive python, also known as a Liasis olivaceus, on a riverbank, which seemed to be very caught up in swallowing quite an unusual prey: a freshwater crocodile.
The man had time to grab his camera and take a few photos of this terrifying scene. The images show the snake’s huge, elastic jaw surrounding the scaly reptile, whose tail was the only thing still in the open air. The photos were shared by the non-profit organisation ‘GG Wildlife Rescue Inc’, whose main activities include monitoring and protecting the local fauna.
Python vs crocodile: a jungle duel, an unlikely winner
You might be asking yourself just how a reptile that is as strong, leathery and dangerous as a crocodile could end up being gulped down by a snake. A duel between these two animals could easily have ended up with the crocodile slicing its opponent in two with one mere yet well-placed bite. Or in the worst cases, the python, powerless against the scaly armour that its opponent wears, could have just decided to flee the battle because it’s too weary.
But make no mistake, pythons are terrifying animals for anyone because they are constrictors: meaning they catch their prey by wrapping themselves around them and squeezing to suffocate them and stop the blood flowing with their long, fatal embrace fuelled by their muscular power. Crocodiles that are caught in this embrace wouldn’t be able to escape and as a result, the python would have the upper hand in this marshy battle.
Eyes bigger than its stomach
Pythons have had a reputation for decades of being ‘big eaters’ which often tends to want to swallow theoretically indigestible prey or prey that are a lot bigger than themselves. Examples include deer, impalas, porcupines, crocodiles, other snakes and of course humans which are all on the menu for this animal.
A deep hunger or a transient depression? We don’t really know how the python could have been so hungry to want to swallow this huge meal… but one thing is for sure, they don’t always manage it. In 2005 in Florida, a python literally exploded in the middle of a feast when it was trying to swallow an enormous alligator whole.
The secrets of the gluttonous python
According to studies carried out on the animal, Mother Nature gave the python two exceptional characteristics which it uses to eat things that are a lot bigger than itself. The first is the structure of its jaw, which can unhook from the rest of its skeletal structure thanks to its very stretchy ligaments.
The second is the animal’s ability to quickly change its metabolism so it can digest and absorb a huge number of calories from its hearty meals. The animal is also able to make its organs grow like its kidneys, pancreas, heart and intestines to allow it to digest all of its prey, even if that does mean slowly.
Take a look at the video above to see the extraordinary images for yourself...