Pythons are biologically equipped to consume prey much larger than themselves. It’s very common to see these large snakes gulping down deer, impalas, and sometimes even humans. But despite this knowledge, it’s still shocking to hear about a python devouring a crocodile. This is exactly what happened to an Australian freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) which was unfortunate enough to stumble into the jaws of an olive python (Liasis olivaceus).
The grisly footage was shared on social media by GG Wildlife Rescue Inc., a nonprofit in Australia on May 31. According to the NGO’s Facebook page, the images were taken by kayaker Martin Muller near Mount Isa, Queensland.
Pythons kill their prey by wrapping themselves around it, squeezing tighter as the victim exhales. Within minutes, the prey dies by suffocation or cardiac arrest. Pythons swallow their food whole thanks to the way their jaws are connected by very flexible ligaments, which can stretch around large prey. Their digestive system and metabolism are also perfectly adapted to breaking down huge meals all at once.
To handle the sudden influx of calories, pythons are known to rapidly increase the size of their internal organs, including the intestines, heart, and kidneys.
Pythons are almost exclusively mammal feeders, although they can consume reptiles. The unlucky Australian freshwater crocodile seen in these photos illustrates this fact.
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.