Dining with an African rock python in Botswana MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Dining with an African rock python in Botswana

Can you believe it? I was in Botswana, spending a lot of time with two majestic lions and their big buffalo meal. But then, out of nowhere, something incredible happened. I came face-to-face with an African rock python feasting on its prey! Isn’t it amazing how unpredictable the wild world can be?

Check out this incredible photo taken by Chloe Cooper.

As I ventured through the lush green grasslands of Chobe’s Linyanti concession, I was fortunate to witness a captivating scene. Elephants gracefully roamed the land, while a chorus of vultures and marabou storks filled the sky. Resting lazily on the damp grass were two mighty lions, indulging in their gluttonous nature.

Accompanied only by Camp Linyanti’s Land Cruiser, photographer Kevin MacLaughlin and I had the privilege of experiencing this extraordinary sight. Our hearts were filled with excitement as we embarked on our game drive, exploring the vast beauty of Linyanti.

As fatigue settled into my bones, I strained to keep my weary eyes open. It was then that I caught a glimpse of something intriguing on the slopes of a bare termite mound. A dark and coiled shape seemed to blend effortlessly into its surroundings. A voice finally escaped my lips, “Snake!” and instantly captured Kevin’s attention.

I shut off the engine and we paused, taking in the cacophony of bird calls and squirrel chatter. It was as if they were sounding the alarm, warning the world of the predator among them. Right before our eyes, a young African rock python was in the final throes of suffocating its prey – a sight that left us in awe. The snake had coiled itself tightly around its victim, while a squirrel perched on a nearby tree scolded it fiercely.

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We could see that the prey, a water mongoose, was putting up a fight, refusing to go down without a struggle. But the python was relentless, its grip unyielding as it squeezed the life out of its meal. It was a primal battle, a glimpse into the rawness of nature.

Finally, the python began its feast. Slowly, it started to swallow the mongoose whole, its powerful jaws stretching wide to accommodate its meal. It was a display of both power and instinct, an instinct we had the privilege of observing up close. I couldn’t help but feel a mix of emotions – awe, curiosity, even a tinge of unease. Nature can be beautiful and brutal at the same time.

As the python continued to devour its prey, I couldn’t help but think about the delicate balance of life in the wild. Every creature has its place, its role to play in the intricate tapestry of the ecosystem. This small glimpse into the circle of life served as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living things.

This experience was a humbling one, a reminder of the power and wonder of the natural world. It’s moments like this that make me appreciate the diversity and complexity of life on Earth. And if you’re a nature lover like me, then you’ll understand the profound impact that these encounters can have.

When my travel group and I were exploring the stunning landscapes of Botswana, we were lucky to experience the relief of a thunderstorm in the Okavango Delta. It was an incredible feeling as the first rains of the season drenched the earth. As we made our way to Linyanti, the humidity started to increase, reminding us that October is known as ‘suicide month’ in Botswana.

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Creatures like the African rock python, affectionately called ‘Afrocks’ by herpetologists, become dormant during the dry season. They only need to eat once a year if their last meal was substantial enough. It’s fascinating to think that we might have witnessed this python on its very first hunt of the season, making the sighting even more extraordinary.

When we discovered the python, it was already dead, and a predator was beginning to consume it, starting from the head. It was a sight to behold, captured in a photograph by Kevin MacLaughlin.

The python has teeth located at the back of its mouth that face inwards, helping it grip its prey securely once it has caught it. This incredible adaptation makes it a formidable hunter in the animal kingdom. Kevin MacLaughlin managed to capture a photograph of these teeth in action.

I was amazed when I learned that the African rock python, specifically the southern subspecies, is actually smaller compared to its counterparts in northern Africa. However, don’t let that fool you, because this snake is still an absolute giant and one of the largest snake species in the world! Some individuals can reach a mind-boggling length of six meters.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – giant snakes must be super dangerous, right? Well, surprisingly, the African rock python is not as aggressive towards humans as you might imagine. In fact, the number of human attacks by these snakes is extremely low. So, while the thought of encountering such a massive creature may be intimidating, it’s reassuring to know that the likelihood of a negative interaction is very slim.

In their natural habitat, African rock pythons have a diverse diet. They mainly consume smaller animals like rodents, monkeys, warthogs, and even small antelope. To subdue their prey, they use a technique called constriction. This involves wrapping their powerful bodies around the animal and squeezing it tightly, causing cardiac arrest. Once their prey is incapacitated, the pythons skillfully swallow it whole, with their elongated jaws and flexible bodies allowing them to accomplish this incredible feat.

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During one remarkable encounter, I was fortunate enough to observe a python in action. I was standing close enough to witness the mesmerizing sight of the snake’s throat visibly swelling with each gulp. It was both awe-inspiring and slightly unnerving to see a creature capable of devouring such large prey with seemingly little effort.

So, let me tell you about this one time when I went to Camp Linyanti. It was a truly unforgettable day. Guess what? We were so lucky to witness something incredibly rare. We got to see the whole thing, from start to finish. Picture this: a snake with a bulging belly, slinking its way into a termite mound. Pretty amazing, huh?

This python had this unique feature. Its belly was smooth and pale, unlike the rest of its body, which had this cool, mottled pattern of black and brown. I couldn’t take my eyes off it!

As we watched, the python finished its feast, and let me tell you, it didn’t waste a single second. It swiftly slid back into its hole in the ground. I guess it needed some quiet time to digest its meal. Can’t blame it, we all need some peace and quiet after a big meal!

Oh, and here’s the best part. My friend Kevin, being the clever person he is, managed to capture all of this on video and with his camera. Seriously, it’s mind-blowing. You have to watch it!

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