This incredible set of photographs shows a huge olive python devouring an entire freshwater crocodile in one slow but steady gulp.
As you’ve probably guessed already, this is in Australia, although Florida would be a reasonable guess too. Martin Muller spotted the two battling animals while kayaking around the swamps of Mount Isa in Queensland. Somehow not terrified by the grisly sight, he stuck around long enough to get some images of the meal. GG Wildlife Rescue Inc have shared the photographs on their Facebook page to a bewildered audience.
Olive pythons (Liasis olivaceus) are one of the largest species of snake in Australia, capable of growing up to 4 meters (13 feet) in length. While they have been known to feast on large reptiles, such as monitor lizards or crocodiles, their diet is generally made up of smaller creatures, including birds, bats, and rats.
It’s unclear how large this particular prey was, but Australia freshwater crocodiles or Johnstone's crocodiles (Crocodylus Johnstoni) are generally not small, growing an average of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) from tail to snout.
Both of these animals are apex predators in their environment, so the tables can turn and big Johnson's crocodiles will occasionally eat small pythons.
Like many species of snake, olive pythons opt for the "down in one" method of eating large prey. Their jaws don’t actually detach during this swallowing process, despite popular myth. Instead, the two lower jaws move independently of one another, allowing the whole jaw to move more freely when it needs a little extra wiggle room for larger prey. While the prey is in its jaws, the snake will begin a set of movements known as the '"pterygoid walk", whereby the snake essentially "walks" its head over and around its meal.
Once swallowed, the python must then start the exhausting process of digestion. For something as large as this crocodile, it could take the python several months to fully digest it. All the bones, flesh, and organs will be digested by the snake, although they tend to poop out the scales and teeth, as they contain a lot of keratin and enamel.