A village in Indonesia enjoyed a snake-meat feast this weekend after a resident wrestled and killed a 26-foot-long (7.8 meters) python.
The python was of the species Malopython reticulatus, said Donal Boyer, the curator of herpetology at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Also known as the reticulated python, the snake is found all over Southeast Asia and has been reported to grow up to 30 feet (9.1 m) long, though snakes of that size are "quite rare," Boyer said. Just last year, a 26.2-foot-long (8 m) reticulated python was captured at a construction site in Malaysia, though the reptile died three days later while laying an egg.
According to the BBC, a security guard named Robert Nababan stumbled across the snake on a road inside a palm oil plantation in the Sumatran district of Batang Gansal. [In Images: Hungry Python Eats Porcupine Whole]
"I tried to catch it, my hand was bitten, and I managed to wrestle it," Nababan told Detik, an Indonesian news outlet.
A government official told the BBC that Nababan's arm was severely injured by the bite and might have to be amputated.
M. reticulatus usually eats mice and other small- to medium-size prey, including domesticated animals like chickens, pigs and dogs. In Singapore, they've been known to chow down on invasive iguanas, according to a case report published in January 2016 in the journal Herpetological Review. They constrict their prey to suffocate it before swallowing it. And the larger the snake, the larger the prey it can take.
The python that attacked Nababan was provoked, Boyer said, and likely tried to bite and squeeze the guard to defend itself — not to make a meal. But reticulated pythons have very rarely been known to feed on humans. On another palm oil plantation in West Sulawesi, Indonesia, a 25-year-old man was found inside the belly of a 23-foot-long (7 m) python in March.
A 2011 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that in the past, reticulated pythons have menaced humans in the Philippines. Data on the hunter-gatherer Agta people from 1976 revealed 16 cases of predatory reticulated python attacks over the previous decades. Two of the fatalities were children, but the pythons also constricted and killed two adults. A third adult died from an infected python bite.
This weekend's attack had a happier result, at least for the humans involved. Nababan killed the snake with the help of some nearby villagers, according to the BBC, and it was subsequently fried and eaten.
Original article on Live Science.
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.