26 Aug 2010 A guest of a different kind
African rock python that has just eaten!
One morning we had a guest of a different kind visit us.
An African rock python was spotted in camp lying next to one of the walking paths that head to the rooms.
Now that the days are starting to reach the 30oC mark, we can expect to see more and more snakes coming out. The rock python is Africa’s largest snake, and at close on four metres in length, this one was a good example. It had just eaten something fairly large (we suspect a duiker) and was going nowhere fast, as they generally become quite sedentary after a meal.
Although everybody in camp came to look and take photos of this unusual sight, we were careful to keep a respectful distance and then move away quickly so as not to disturb it.
After all, swallowing a small buck whole is hard work!
Pythons are not venomous, they kill their prey by constricting it until it can no longer breathe. That said, these snakes are known to be ill-tempered, and as such won’t hesitate to bite if harassed. Like all constrictors, they swallow their prey whole and head first. Their top and bottom jaws are attached to each other with stretchy ligaments, which allows them to swallow animals wider that themselves. Snakes don’t chew their food, rather they digest it with the help of very strong acids in the their stomachs.
After eating a large animal the python won’t need food for quite some time, and will just rest for a few weeks. Unfortunately, while in this engorged state it is open to attack by predators.
While the African rock python isn’t endangered, it is on CITES App ll and listed as vulnerable. This means you need a special permit in order to capture one. The rock python is killed for its skin and meat.
It was great to have this beautiful animal so close to camp, offering guests and staff a rare, but wonderful, sighting.