Largest snake in Africa – African rock python

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Size

African rock python

African rock python photo: hannes.steyn

 

Large African giant

The largest snake to inhabit the African continent is the African Rock Python which can be found in Sub-Saharan countries. This hulking mass of reptile is also the third largest snake in the world.

 

How big can it get?

These African giants can reach lengths greater than 6 metres (20 feet), enough to give even the biggest of mammals a fright.

 

What does it eat?

As well as snacking on smallish mammals and birds, the African rock python is fond of antelopes and other larger animals. It’s not afraid of choosing crocodile from the menu either.

 

How does it hunt?

Like most constrictors, this snake is an ambush predator, preferring to lay in wait for an unsuspecting dinner. It clamps onto its prey with formidable teeth, coils its body around its victim, and then squeezes. A meal is eaten whole with backward-facing teeth assisting swallowing.

 

How dangerous is it?

Often portrayed as an aggressive snake, this species only attacks when provoked, making it relatively safe for humans. In 2002 it was reported that a child in South Africa was eaten by an African rock python, the first recording of such an incident.

 

How many are left?

The species is considered common and stable. Continued habitat reduction could lead to diminishing numbers though.

 

Anything else?

A number of features set the African rock python apart from other serpents. Firstly, it features two functioning lungs instead of the typical one. Secondly, a pair of pelvic spurs which may be remnants of hind limbs are also visible. Now who said snakes didn’t have legs?


 

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