Discover the Largest Rock Python Ever Found

Written by Brandi Allred
Updated: March 16, 2023
© Uwe Bergwitz/Shutterstock.com
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There are many tales of giant snakes, but in Africa, only one species reigns supreme. That species is the African rock python (Python sebae). The largest African pythons are among the biggest snakes in the world; they grow to gigantic proportions big enough to swallow a human whole. These snakes, like all of the world’s giant snakes, are constrictors and have no venom. The largest rock pythons ever found don’t need venom. Instead, they constrict their prey to death before swallowing it whole.

Here, we’ll learn whether or not the African rock python is Africa’s largest snake. We’ll explore the largest African python ever found, and discover just how big these monstrous snakes get. Then, we’ll go over their behavior, looks, and habitat. Finally, we’ll take a look at just how aggressive these gargantuan snakes really are, and whether or not they’re capable of killing humans.

Species Profile

African rock python curled up with head in air
African rock pythons aren’t the biggest snakes in the world, but they’re pretty close.

©Chris Graf/Shutterstock.com

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There are thousands of species of snake all over the world. Some grow to only a few inches long, while others, like the reticulated python, can grow to over 20 feet. Among these, the largest African pythons rank close to the largest snakes on Earth. Let’s take a closer look at just what makes these snakes so unique.

Appearance

African rock pythons are distinguished by a deep brown base color, paired with caramel and dark brown markings. Their bellies are pale tan, with no markings. Like all constrictor snakes, the largest African pythons have long heads and thick bodies that taper into thin tails.

Range and Habitat

African rock python in the water
There are two subspecies of African rock pythons native to Africa.

©zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock.com

African rock pythons are native to central and southern Africa. They live in a wide variety of habitats, with the only restriction being a source of water closeby. Rocky pythons live everywhere from lush tropical forests to arid regions with little vegetation. The only things they need to survive are food and water.

Behavior

The largest African rock pythons spend much of their lives lying in wait for prey. To strike, these snakes rely on animals wandering too close to them without realizing they’re there. Once close enough, the snake strikes and pulls the victim into its coils. Every time the animal exhales, the snake constricts tighter. Once the victim is dead, the snake swallows it whole.

African rock pythons are so big that it actually takes them several years to reach reproductive age. Females lay eggs, and often guard their nests even after the snakelets hatch. Young snakes fall prey to all kinds of animals, like hyenas, wild dogs, birds of prey, and even bigger snakes.

How Big do African Rock Pythons Get?

Biggest Snakes: The African Rock PythonBiggest Snakes: The African Rock Python
There are no reliably measured rock pythons over 19 feet long.

©zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock.com

African rock pythons typically grow to between 9-12 feet on average and weigh up to 125 pounds. But, the largest snakes may grow up to 15 feet long and weigh nearly 200 pounds. Even larger rock pythons have been reported throughout history, and it is thought that the largest specimens grow up to 19 feet long. 

Rock pythons are heavy snakes, even for constrictors. Inch per inch, they’re actually heavier than the longer reticulated pythons. They’re not quite as heavy as green anacondas, but they do tend to outweigh both Burmese pythons and Amethystine pythons.

In comparison to humans, a typical adult African python is twice as long as a six-foot person. The biggest members of the species are a whopping three times as long as a tall adult human.

Are Rock Pythons Bigger than Anacondas?

The largest rock pythons ever found reportedly measure up to 19 feet long, and weigh around 200 pounds. However, even these incredible stats aren’t enough to make them the heaviest living snake. That title belongs to the South American green anaconda. Green anacondas can grow up to 17 feet long, and weigh over 200 pounds. 

The African rock python might not weigh as much as the green anaconda, but they reportedly grow longer than these South American giants.

Are African Rock Pythons Aggressive?

As carnivores, pythons rely on their ability to hunt and kill prey in order to eat. They’re constrictors and rely on their huge size and musculature to overpower and constrict their prey. The largest specimens are so big that they can attack and consume hyenas, antelope, and even crocodiles. 

When it comes to human interaction though, African rock pythons would rather stay away. Reports of attacks on humans are extremely rare, and of the few attacks that do happen, even fewer result in death. In fact, escaped pet African pythons are far more likely to attack humans than their wild counterparts.

Can African Rock Pythons Eat Humans?

Though attacks in the wild are rare, these large snakes are more than capable of killing and devouring humans. Though there are no confirmed reports of wild pythons consuming humans, there are several reports of attempted consumption by pet snakes. There have been several instances of escaped pet rock pythons injuring, and even killing, their owners, or members of their families.

So, while it is possible for the largest African pythons to eat humans, cases in the wild are virtually unheard of. Snake owners should take extreme care in ensuring that their scaly friends cannot escape their enclosures. As apex predators, all large snakes, whether wild or domestic, should be treated with respect.

How Long Do African Rock Pythons Live?

African rock pythons are pretty long-lived compared to rattlesnakes for example which only live for about a decade in the wild. And even though the latter can live for about 25 years in captivity, this species of python is capable of outdoing them in this regard since it has been known to live for as long as 30 years in captivity.

There is also the fact that it is a prolific reproducer (females are capable of laying up to 100 eggs at a time) which also does its very best to give its young the best start in life by remaining with them after they’ve hatched for a fortnight to keep would-be-predators away.

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The Featured Image

close up of African rock python
A rock python can weigh up to 200 pounds.
© Uwe Bergwitz/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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