Despite being non-venomous, the python remains one of the world’s most dangerous serpents. The African rock python, in particular, is a very deadly assassin, also notorious for being ill-tempered.
Pythons incapacitate their prey by literally squeezing the life out of them, coiling their long – sometimes seven-metre (23-foot) – bodies round the victim and tightening their grip until the animal, unable to breathe, eventually suffocates. That done, the python then sets about consuming their meal… in one go.
Equipped with a set of highly flexible jaws, stretchy skin and ribs hinged with extra-supple tissue, the African rock python can down its quarry whole. First the python slides its mouth over the head of the prey and then gradually moves its body along the length of the animal with the help of an expandable throat and abdomen. The animal is then digested over a matter of hours, or even days if it’s particularly large. Following such a meal, the python need not eat again for several weeks.