Recently an Australian man named Nick Kearns heard his partner Karyn screaming. When he rushed to the scene while still naked, he found a python coiled around their kitten Lil, which was an obvious cause for concern. Fortunately, Kearns was able to grab the python by the head before dislodging it, though he did sustain a bite from the non-venomous snake in the process. Due to this incident, he now inspects his property for snakes every morning, which comes from a desire for safety rather than any animosity for snakes on his part.
Why Did This Happen Anyways?
Pythons aren’t a single species but rather an entire family of 40 species that come from Africa, Asia, and Australia. These species are non-venomous. As a result, most pythons are ambush predators, meaning that they remain still while cloaked by their natural camouflage before striking when something suitable comes within range. The process starts with the snake restraining its target using its teeth, wrapping its coils around its target, and then constricting its target. Uninterrupted, the constriction cuts off blood flow, thus leading to unconsciousness and then cardiac arrest. Once the python has determined that its target is dead, it will swallow it whole before settling in to digest it for either days or even weeks.
Moving on, a python’s diet is based on its size. After all, while they are famous for their ability to swallow things that they look like they shouldn’t be able to, there are limits to that ability. Never mind the fact that bigger targets tend to be more capable of fighting off would-be predators, which is a very real concern for pythons. Still, bigger pythons are capable of going after cats and dogs. Moreover, even bigger pythons are capable of going after even bigger targets such as pigs, goats, and deer. In fact, there have been reports of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades going after full-grown alligators, though there is at least one known incident that went very poorly for both combatants.
By this point, chances are good that people are curious about whether pythons can pose a threat to humans or not. If so, the answer is “Yes” under certain circumstances. Every once in a while, there is a report of a python owner being killed by their python, as shown by the example of Dan Brandon. Generally speaking, these incidents seem to be the products of unfortunate accidents. For example, Brandon was asphyxiated, which has caused some experts to speculate that his python Tiny killed him either because it was startled or because it was concerned that it was going to fall. Likewise, there have been reports of pythons going after python owners because their predatorial instincts were triggered by either the smell of a prey animal or some other sign. Having said that, wild pythons have been known to go after adult humans. Such incidents aren’t particularly common because humans are far from being their first choice of prey, but such incidents are nonetheless well-established.
In any case, Australia is home to a lot of pythons, as shown by how it hosts no fewer than 14 species. One excellent example would be the amethystine python, which has the distinction of being not just the biggest snake in Australia but also one of the six biggest snakes in the entire world. However, it should be mentioned that Kearns lives in Kimberly in Western Australia, which is home to multiple species of pythons. One would be the water python, which despite its name, actually spends a fair amount of time outside of the water in places such as hollow logs and riverbank vegetation. Another would be the olive python, which is so big that it is beaten out by just the amethystine python when it comes to Australia’s biggest snakes. On top of these, there is the rough-scaled python that has a reputation for lurking close to fruit-bearing trees.
What Can People Do About a Python Attack?
Generally speaking, if people see a wild python, they should just avoid it in the same way that they should avoid other predators. Simply put, most pythons aren’t going to attack humans most of the time, meaning that it makes no sense to antagonize them or otherwise interact with them. After all, while pythons attack when they arre going after prey, pythons also attack when they are feeling threatened by something. Besides this, interested individuals might want to make a call to the relevant authorities so that they can hand off the potential problem to someone who is much better-prepared to handle it.
Moving on, if someone is under attack by a python of sufficient size, chances are very good that they are in serious trouble. Theoretically, a person might be capable of buying themselves some time by getting their arm between their throat and the python’s coils. However, even if they manage to do so, they are still in serious trouble because pythons kill by cutting off blood flow. As a result, said individual should always call for help in the hope that there is someone else in the vicinity who can get the python off of them by unwrapping its coils. In fact, having other people around to provide emergency assistance is so critical that people just shouldn’t attempt to handle bigger pythons unless that happens to be the case. For that matter, said individuals probably shouldn’t be handling those snakes at all unless they have the relevant expertise and experience.
When it comes to smaller pythons, people have more options. It is not a good idea for people who have been bitten by a python to pull away. This is because the snakes have inward-curving teeth, meaning that can actually cause the teeth to sink in even more. As such, it might apparently be possible to wait for the python to realize that a human isn’t a suitable choice of target, though it might be helpful to try to unwrap it in the meantime. Alternatively, it might also be possible to kill the python before getting it off, which may or may not be both desireable and practical depending on whether the person even has the right tools within reach.