Ever spot something cool while you were on a bike ride? Probably nothing quite as interesting as this massive python that was spotted by a cyclist. The snake, engorged nearly to the point of immobility by a mystery animal was spotted next to a trail in the Lake Eland Game Reserve in South Africa.
Lake Eland is located at eastern southern tip of South Africa. It is owned by Eric and Trevor Dunstone, two brothers. It contains bushvled, coastal forest, grasslands, and wetland ecosystems. The name Lake Eland is in honor of the numerous antelope running around the reserve and of course large pythons.
Ever wonder what might happen if a python ate a porcupine? Well, wonder no more. One of these giant snakes — which kill prey by suffocating it and then consuming it whole — recently dined on a porcupine and didn’t live to brag about it.
Believe it or not, that’s just over half as long as they can grow under perfect conditions. They’re capable of growing up to twenty-three feet long. They can also live up to twenty-five years. Even so, it’s unbelievable how wide the python can expand when consuming. That’s one fat snake
The cyclist snapped a few photos of the gluttonous python and posted them to social media, where they quickly attracted the attention of locals who wanted to see the python themselves. Lots of people came to the park in the following days just to view the swollen snake, according to Jennifer Fuller, general manager at the game reserve.
At the time the photos were taken, no one knew what the snake had eaten, just that it must have been something fairly large. On the Lake Eland Game Reserve Facebook page, park staff and visitors speculated as to what the snake may have swallowed for dinner, suggesting everything from a small warthog to a baby impala to an errant child (that last one was posted as a joke).
Park rangers found the python dead near the bike trail. They decided to cut it open and have a look inside. What they found was one heck of a snack: a 30-lb. (13.8 kilograms) porcupine.
It still isn’t clear if this python’s spiky meal was actually responsible for the predator’s death. Rangers found the snake underneath a rocky ledge, where it had apparently fallen. On impact, the quills inside its engorged belly may have pierced the python’s digestive tract, which could have killed the animal.
In the 2003 study, entitled “Prickly food: snakes preying upon porcupines,” researchers found that when a snake eats a porcupine, the animal’s quills are left undigested and are easily detectable in the snake’s gut. Sometimes, the quills will even pierce all the way through the snake’s body, according to the study. But there’s no word yet on whether this particular snake died because it was pierced by quills or because it fell off a ledge (or because it was pierced by quills as a result of falling off the ledge), Fuller told the Australian news website News.com.