We’re in North-East Australia and a freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) meets an olive python (Liasis olivaceus) and well… gets swallowed whole. So in no uncertain terms, the snakes of the world go one up.
Fortunately, Martin Muller was out kayaking in the area of Mount Isa, Queensland and managed to capture the extraordinary event on camera. They were later shared on Facebook by GG Wildlife Rescue Inc.
Super-sized meals are no issue for snakes and they regularly eat prey 75 to 100 per cent their size.
“Olive snakes are known for being phenomenally powerful, pound for pound, and for feeding on large food items”, Terry Phillip, of South Dakota’s Reptile Gardens, explained to National Geographic.
It’s no surprise then that clashes with “freshies”, the local name for Australias’ freshwater crocodiles, are more common than you’d think and actually a ‘very natural event‘.
In this case, the battle is well and truly over. However, there’s a lot that can go wrong for a snake even after it’s caught it’s prey, particularly in this case where crocodile teeth can do serious damage.
“That’s one reason snakes intentionally go for the neck and shoulder region when they attack, to try to avoid being bitten themselves. They’ll grab on just behind the skull and coil up to hold the croc in place.”Terry Phillip to National Geographic
The constriction also takes a lot of energy and can be a dangerous activity, so this olive python needs to be sure it’s applying just the right amount of pressure and for just long enough, to make sure the crocodile is dead.
They’re able to do this by adapting constriction based on their prey’s heartbeat, increasing pressure and duration when necessary, and using it as an indicator for a successful kill.
After the kill, of course, come the spoils. Whole crocodile anyone?
Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not dislocate their jaws when taking on large meals, in fact, their jaws aren’t connected in the first place. Instead, snakes have tendons, muscles and ligaments that give the jaw extreme flexibility.
Seeming to “know” to eat their prey from the narrowest (usually mouth) end, the snake may rest a bit before appropriately rearranging and then, well… bon appétit.
I can tell by now you’re thinking, “where does it all go?”
A meal of this size, the snake will be relatively dormant for over a week while it digests the bones, flesh and organs for energy. The things that aren’t digestible, like the teeth and most of the scales, will come back out.
Watch footage of the event: