If there is a reptilian afterlife, this giant python from South Africa will be up there cursing its disastrous final meal. The snake was found still and dead by a cycle track earlier this month after swallowing whole a 30 pound porcupine, whose spikes appear to have punctured the python from the inside out.
And damn, the pictures from the snake’s autopsy are not for the faint hearted.
The python, almost four metres long, most likely fell from a rocky shelf in the Lake Eland Game Reserve, South Africa, forcing the porcupine’s sharp quills to puncture its digestive tract.
Reddit user BigDeadPixel posted the original photos in /r/snakes, saying: “is [sic] still up for debate whether the porcupine was alive or dead when the snake found it, but the lack of external damage to the snake may indicate the porcupine was dead when the snake found it.”
Gamekeepers performed an autopsy to separate the porcupine and the snake, finding that the python’s insides had been pierced repeatedly by its deadly last supper.
“The exact reasons for the snake’s death are not clear,” Reserve general manager Jennifer Fuller told the Independent. “It is apparent that several porcupine quills were lodged inside the digestive tract. It had fallen off the rocky ledge. We don’t know if it died beforehand or whether the fall drove some of the quills into its digestive tract.”
A high proportion of snake species rely on thermal and chemical sensory mechanisms to ambush their prey, so threatening defence mechanisms like this porcupine’s quills are often not recognised until it is too late and the snake has already swallowed its victim.
Images via BigDeadPixel / Reddit