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African Rock Python

 

 

The rock python is the largest most powerful African snake, growing on average to 19ft (it can grow as large as 28ft but this is extremely rare). They are fast agile and extremely strong reptiles who can throw ¾ of their body during an attack. I should know I have been bitten by a 14ft one and lived to tell the tale. They have rows of backward facing teeth which act as a grip on the victim as its immediate reaction is to pull away embedding the teeth further into the flesh giving the snake an even stronger grip. I was fortunate to have a bottle of whisky at hand which I poured into the snake’s mouth which in turn caused it to retreat and loosen its grip. Its victims normally don’t have this luxury and find themselves constricted in a coil of ten thousand muscles tightening around their body while every breath released causes the coil to get tighter and tighter till the prey can no longer take a breath, and dies. The snake despite not having ears can hear through its lower jaw the heart beat of the animal and waits for a few minutes after the life has drained from the body, the heart has stopped by now and is now ready to consume.  The python then pokes around its lifeless victim trying to find the optimal part of the animal which is the head and starting at the nose it moves its mouth over the head with this the muscles in the jaw stretch like elastics and the snake pushes over the body like a sock stretches over a foot.  The inverted teeth help drag the meal towards the troath muscles till enough of the animal has been swallowed for the body’s muscles to help in the further swallowing of the creature.  Eventually the meal reaches the middle of the snake (the stomach) where digestion takes place.  The digestive juices are very powerful and allow bones and flesh to be easily digested though fur is harder to process so much of it ends up in the excrement.  After this they go somewhere safe to sleep and digest their food free from stress.

 

They Predate on small mammals, rodents, birds, monkeys and even crocodiles,  humans are generally not on their list though, not implausible,  the only problem is that humans are hard to swallow since our bodies are not streamlined as we have shoulders which make us hard to consume.

 

A large animal meal can last a python many months though if feeding on rodents the snake may feed once or twice weekly.  Every six weeks or so as the snake grows it needs to shed its skin and may go off food for two to three weeks as its skin gets tighter and the old layer dies . When the old layer has separated enough from the body the python rubs off rocks to relieve its self of its old skin and now has lovely shiny smooth scales.

 

Females can lay 20 to 60 eggs in an aardvark den or termite mound.  Termite mounds are ideal as they have a constant temperature.  After laying the eggs the mom remains with her eggs for ten weeks or so only leaving to drink or bask in the sun to heat her body and in turn wrap around and incubate the eggs.  She can also generate heat by vibrating her body.   After the young have entered the world she stays with them for the first two days of life till they have shed their skin and then they make their way into the big bad world where if they are lucky they will live to the ripe old age of 30.

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