Do big snakes make you queasy? This isn’t for you. But if you find the predatory tendencies of some of the largest snakes in the world fascinating, you’re in the right place.
There are 26 species of pythons including the infamous Burmese and reticulated pythons. All pythons are non-venomous—but that doesn’t mean they’re not seriously deadly. According to the San Diego Zoo, pythons are ambush hunters. When they attack, they use constriction, which means they wrap themselves around their prey to suffocate them. Then, pythons are known to unfold their jaws and consume their prey whole, often swallowing their food headfirst.
This feeding strategy often leads to pythons with obvious bulges of partially digested prey—and in some cases, what’s inside is downright shocking. These are the five most shocking things people have ever found in a python’s stomach.
The Giant from the Everglades
The biggest invasive python ever found in Florida was an 18-footer that weighed over 200 pounds. To get that big, the snake must’ve done some serious damage to the Everglades’ native mammals. When scientists cut open the snake’s stomach, they found the hooves of a whitetail deer—its last meal.
During a recent study on a wildlife refuge in Florida, researchers used a novel technique to find and remove pythons. The study was on possum and raccoon movement data, but when a dead possum appeared to be moving again, the team went to investigate—and eventually removed the GPS-collared possum from the guts of a 12-foot python. Now, scientists are considering using the strategy elsewhere in Florida.
The Alligator Hunter
Ok, this one is gnarly. In the fall of 2022, researchers found a massive python with a bulging stomach. They filmed the dissection—and the stunning moment when they pulled an intact 5-foot gator out of it. See it for yourself below.
Last year, a tragedy occurred in Indonesia. A 54-year-old woman went missing on a rubber plantation. Later that week, she was found inside a distended 22-foot reticulated python.
The Deer Killer
Burmese pythons are known to eat large mammals, including deer. This incident proves why. In 2016, researchers found the bodies of three—yes, three—whole deer inside the body of one python. The nearly 16-foot-long snake had devoured two fawns and one doe within 90 days.