Body of rock python found with dozens of quills piercing its digestive tract
A tasty porcupine seemed like an ideal meal for a peckish African rock python, but it proved to be a case of the snake biting off considerably more than it could chew. The spiky prey was the final repast the 13-feet-long reptile was to enjoy.
A mountain biker found the bloated body of the snake by a cycle track at the South African Lake Eland Game Reserve, near Port Shepstone, about 75 miles south of Durban.
The python’s digestive tract was punctured by dozens of the porcupine’s quills. Even though the meal clearly did not agree with the python, Jennifer Fuller, the reserve’s general manager, was still cautious about attributing the reptile’s demise to the 30lb porcupine.
The exact reasons for the snake’s death are not clear, she said. ‘‘It is apparent that several porcupine quills were lodged inside the digestive tract,” she said. “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.” The rock python is among the largest snakes in the world and kills its prey by crushing the victim to death.
Porcupines rely on thousands of quills to deter would be predators although pythons can normally cope with them and indeed larger animals including warthogs and impala calves.
Johan Marais, a snake expert, told Earth Touch News Network, he was surprised by the python’s fate. “Pythons do eat porcupines and usually without problems other than the odd quill stuck somewhere,” he said. “ But when disturbed after a large meal, the natural reaction for a snake is to regurgitate its meal so that it is mobile again and can escape. But regurgitating a porcupine is not that easy, and I am sure that is where things went wrong.”