Man Eaters!

Page 2


Finally we have the Reticulated Python. Credited with being the worlds longest recorded snake at a positively gigantic 33 feet (approx 11 meters) in the early part of the 20th Century and also the current record holder for the longest snake in captivity (at 15 years old and approximately 24 feet long, “Fluffy” is currently living at the Columbus Zoo). These pythons have a long history for growing to large sizes. In December 2003, reports of a 50 foot long Reticulated Python gained interest from all over the globe. Named “Fragrant Flower”, the animal was short of the alleged length by some margin at only 21 feet long. This isn't the first time this species has been in headlines though. Every so often reports spread that a man eater has been caught, killed or photographed. Although the majority are proven to be fake claims, there are some that have a definite air of truth about them.

In simple terms, the odds of actually being eaten by one of these snakes once it has killed you is about 50/50. The reason for this is our shoulders. An adult man with shoulders averaging approximately 18 inches in width is just too much for a snake to swallow. Yes, the have an elastic property to the skin around their mouth and they do have the ability to dislocate their jaws but this still isn't enough. In other prey the width grows gradually between the head and body and then decreases as the legs are reached. With a human however, our heads are much smaller than our shoulders so there is no way for the animal to cope with the rapid change in size.
This is all well and good until the snake tries to eat the person feet first, in which case there are no sharp increases in size, only the sharp decrease when it reaches our head. This is unlikely to happen though as like most snakes the Reticulated Python prefers to eat it's prey head first.
Of course it is of little use to you knowing that you wont be eaten if you have already been killed by such a creature!

To put your risks into perspective, the chances of encountering a beast capable of such actions in their own environment are very small. Over the years various studies have been concluded in order to better help us understand these magnificent creatures. Despite these studies being carried out over long periods of time very few truly massive animals are encountered. One study on Reticulated Pythons in Indonesia found no animals over 6 meters in length, with another study in South America yielding similar results for the Green Anaconda.
You have a far greater chance of seeing one of these amazing creatures in captivity. Unfortunately, the increased numbers in captivity has led to a number of human deaths as well.