Is the Reticulated Python Really A Maneater?

Maneating snakes have been a part of our legendary history since the first man walked the earth. In the days of dinosaurs, these snakes very well existed. Among the snakes that exist today, only two species are known that are capable of such an astounding feat. One is the anaconda of Asia, and the other is the reticulated python. But are the stories of maneating snakes really true? Is it really a possibility that the reticulated python could kill and consume a human being? This article answers that question.

The reticulated python is considered to be the largest snake in the world, but that is a bit of a misnomer. The anaconda pretty much shares that honor, but for a different reason. While the anaconda is the heaviest known snake weighing in at around 500 pounds in some cases, the reticulated python is the longest. There have been reticulated pythons found that are longer than a school bus.

Given this information, a reticulated python would have no problem whatsoever killing a human being. There are a number of instances confirmed of this actually occurring, and it is easy to see why. A reticulated python has hundreds of backward facing teeth in their mouths that they use to bite and latch on. When they bite, they immediately wrap the prey in their muscular coils many times, and then suffocate the prey. It is well known that if a man is caught in a full sized reticulated pythons coils, and no help is nearby, they are likely to die. Escaping is rarely successful.

So killing a human being is no problem for a full grown reticulated python. But can they actually eat us?

The truth is, a reticulated python can swallow things of massive size. Reticulated pythons have been known to eat jaguars, crocodiles, and anything else they can successfully catch. The thought of being swallowed whole by a snake is disconcerting enough, but can they do it? The short answer is yes, it is possible. The long answer is that it is not likely in most circumstances.

If a full grown man is the prey, then the reticulated python would have a very hard time getting past our wide shoulders. With other large prey, such as a jaguar, the snake swallows the prey head first. As they travel down the head and reach the shoulders of the jaguar, the legs fold under and the snake can continue. With a person, the shoulders are wide and would generally prevent the snake from going on.

The exception to this would be children and smaller men and women. If the human prey were of this size, they could easily be eaten by a reticulated python. Given this, the answer is technically yes – the reticulated python can eat humans. Scary thought is it not?

What is truly scary, however, is that the reticulated python is among the more popular snakes in the pet industry. Often, these snakes will be released into the wild when they get too big to keep as a pet. This happens more often than one would like to know about, and the regulations on this trade are not nearly strong enough.


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