Viewers were horrified after watching a South African python consume an impala’s carcass on a game reserve.
The video, which was uploaded to YouTube on January 15, has received over 22,000 views. A bystander shot the footage at the Mala Mala Game Reserve, a private game reserve in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, located south of Kruger National Park.
In addition to the python, the clip also features footage of lions interacting with rhinos in the same area. However, most people watch the video to see the serpent go after the impala like it was nothing.
In the clip, you can see the snake swallowing the dead impala whole, slowly slinking its body over the carcass as it devours the much larger animal head-first.
As the clip continues, more of the impala go into the snake’s body as its jaws open further to take in the larger parts of the animal.
This species of python, African rock, is the largest snake found in the country. They roam the tall grasslands of southern Africa and usually grow between 10 and 16 feet in length. In addition, adult specimens can weigh 120 pounds, with reports of some growing even bigger.
Python devours impala like nothing, how is this possible?
In the footage, viewers can hear bystanders describing what they’re watching as if they’re under the snake’s spell. “Their digestive enzymes must be very powerful,” one can be heard saying.
So how is it even possible that pythons can consume animals that are much larger than them? According to experts, pythons can chomp down on larger carcasses due to their evolved jaws. Unlike mammals, their jaws aren’t connected to the skeleton but by ligaments that can stretch and expand.
As proven in the clip from the Mala Mala reserve, the snake’s mandibles can move on their own as the snake “walks” up the body of a carcass and consumes it.
Rock Pythons known to go after massive predators
However, it’s not just the impalas these pythons go after when searching out a snack. In fact, African rock pythons can consume a variety of animals in savannah ecosystems. For example, these pythons have been known to go after antelope, guinea fowl, fish, monitor lizards, crocodiles, and others.
In addition, there are also numerous reports of the particular serpent consuming humans.
For example, a 1980 report described an attack in which an African rock python attacked and killed a boy in the Transvaal province of South Africa.
“The boy… was grabbed on the right calf by a large python that lay in the long grass by the side of the path,” the author wrote. “20 minutes later the victim was completely entwined in the python.”