Eating wolves pythons
Like a python devours a crocodile
Does a snake always win such battles?
Not necessarily. Both animals are top predators in their environment. Large Australian crocodiles eat small pythons and vice versa.
How do stranglers like this python know when to release their prey and eat them?
Snakes pay close attention to the heartbeat of their prey. Usually, pythons choke animals until they choke and their hearts stop beating. But crocodiles can survive long without oxygen. In this case, the snake probably squeezed with so much force that the chest cavity was so constricted that the crocodile's heart had no room to beat. The animal probably did not suffocate, but died of cardiac arrest.
One hears again and again that snakes can “disengage” or dislocate their jaws in order to eat large animals. Is this really happening?
No. Snakes do not have a chin or chin bone, so their jaws are not connected like ours. You cannot be dislocated. Instead, they have very elastic bands that determine how wide the mouth can open.
It seems that snakes deliberately devour their prey from the narrowest point, i.e. from the mouth. Does it happen instinctively?
Instinct certainly plays a role here. This particular behavior can be observed in snakes in the wild as well as in captivity. After killing their prey, release them and rest. Before they begin to devour them, they use their nostrils and tongue to look for the smell of their victim's saliva. So they find the right ending. There is no saliva in crocodiles, but maybe the smell of the mucus is enough here.
What's the biggest snake prey they know about?
A New Guinea amethyst python - a close relative of the olive pythons - once devoured a wallaby that weighed about 110 percent of its own body weight. That was a good meal. However, snakes regularly eat things that are 75 to 100 percent of their own size.
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