Despite movies and legends, there are few reptiles capable of devouring an adult human, snake or otherwise. Of the snakes, there are 5 (often called the “Big 5”) which can and do reach a length surpassing all others by some considerable margin. Capable of, at the very least, killing a grown man.
These snakes are the Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus), the Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus), the African Rock Python (Python sebae), the Amethystine Python (Morelia spp) and the Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus).
Due to the relatively slim profile the Amethystine python is not one of those capable of eating an adult human. The Amethystine Python can be found in South East Asia and Australasia. A member of the Morelia genus, this python is primarily an arboreal snake. This has led to the python evolving a long and slender body. Within those species with the common name of Amethystine python there are two main species which can attain extraordinary lengths. The first, Morelia amethystina can be found in Indonesia and can reach lengths of up to 20 feet, although averages are usually around 15 feet. Despite this length, weights averaging around only 50lbs are common. The second of the two large Amethystine Pythons, Morelia kinghorni originates from Australia, although no proven records exist, claims of animals reaching upwards of 25 feet are common. Again, this is a slender tree dweller so body weights are significantly smaller than the other members of the “Big 5”.
This leaves us with a further 4 animals which grow to lengths and girth sizes that would allow for an adult human to be consumed.
Originating from South America, the Green Anaconda is credited with being the largest snake species on the planet. This title is not unfounded with the average specimens reaching around 6 meters (17ft) and 250 kilos in weight in captivity. There are various unproven reports dating back to the late nineteenth century claiming specimens in excess of 100 ft in length. However, when a survey was conducted evaluating 1000 wild animals in Brazil, none were found to reach more than 6 meters. Interestingly it is the only new world species in the “Big 5”.
The Burmese Python originates from South and South East Asia and has previously held the record for the longest snakes in captivity. In 2005 “Baby” was measured at 27.5 feet and 403lbs. On average these snakes also reach lengths of around 6 meters but weigh in slightly lighter at around 400lbs Once common in the pet trade this animal is now often found in reptile rescue centres throughout the world.
The African Rock python is the larger of 2 very similar species. The smaller, named the Lesser Rock Python (Python natalensis) was once a sub species but has now been elevated to full species status. Originating in sub Saharan Africa these giants are similar in appearance to the Burmese python with average sizes being the same. It is the largest snake in Africa.