- Rattlesnakes and pythons are both present in Florida, with Burmese pythons an invasive species in the Everglades, so it’s possible they may come into conflict.
- To kill prey, the rattlesnake relies on its venom while the nonvenomous python uses constriction.
- Pythons can swallow prey five times as wide as their head; Burmese pythons are one of the four species known to eat humans.
- The result of a fight will likely depend on which snake gets the first strike in.
Both pythons and rattlesnakes can be found in Florida. In fact, it is believed that the state might have a python problem as its Everglades ecosystem was once infested with pythons (from 2000 to 2022, over 17,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from the state). At the same time, Florida is also home to the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the dusky pygmy and timber rattlesnake.
As such, the two types of snakes might come across each other and ultimately get into a fight. Naturally, the question is, who would win in such a situation? As you know, unlike rattlesnakes, pythons make use of constriction to finish off their prey.
Let’s not waste any more time and find out who emerges victorious in a rattlesnake vs. python battle! But first, let’s see how dangerous the two are to understand what chances they have in fighting against each other!
What Is a Rattlesnake?
The rattlesnake is a venomous snake part of the Viperidae family. It is native to the Americas and can be found throughout the continents, from central Argentina all the way north to southern Canada. Its largest representative is the eastern diamondback, a species that can grow up to 8 feet (2.4 m) long.
Since some rattlesnake predators include king snakes, weasels, and hawks, we already notice that other snakes prey upon rattlesnakes. However, it’s worth noting that the animal is usually hunted while still in a neonate stage, specifically when the snake is considered an infant and can’t defend itself.
Rattlesnakes have a diet that consists mainly of small animals including birds, squirrels, rabbits, mice, rats, and so on. These are taken down with the help of a venomous bite. The rattlesnake does not constrict its prey and relies solely on the venom produced by its glands and released via its sharp fangs.
What Makes a Rattlesnake Dangerous?
The rattlesnake is equipped with hemotoxic venom that causes coagulopathy and necrosis. One species of rattlesnake, the tiger rattlesnake, has a more powerful venom that also contains a presynaptic neurotoxic component. According to statistics, the venom of the tiger rattlesnake has the highest toxicity among all rattlesnake venoms.
Not much can be done once something or someone has been bitten by a rattlesnake. In the case of humans, antivenom injected in the first two hours after a bite will neutralize the venom’s effects completely, with a success chance of over 99%. When it comes to animals, however, the only species that are immune to rattlesnake venom are the honey badger, the opossum, the mongoose, the hedgehog, and most species of domestic and feral hogs.
There are species of snakes resistant to certain types of venom. For example, the Burmese python (common in Florida) is reportedly resistant to neurotoxins found in cobra venom. However, research shows that cobra venom is too strong in most cases and will take a python down. On top of that, snakes don’t develop venom immunity if they don’t share habitats with venomous and snake-eating snake species.
What Is a Python?
Pythons are non-venomous snakes native to Australia, Asia, and Africa. They are part of the Pythonidae family, which includes some of the largest snake specimens in the world. In their case, size and strength are enough to finish off prey without needing a single drop of venom.
As you’ve noticed, pythons are not native to North America, Florida implicitly. However, they can be found there as they’ve been introduced (via pet trade) in the Everglades National Park in the late 1990s and they’re now considered an invasive species.
In Florida, you can come across the Burmese python, which is known as one of the largest snake species in the world. It can grow up to 16 feet (5 m) long and exhibits a variety in weight from 64 lbs (29 kg) to 165 lbs (75 kg) and probably more. The heaviest python on record weighed about 403 lbs (182.8 kg).
As mentioned, pythons are not venomous, thus relying on constriction to finish off their prey. Their hunting technique, however, implies a bit more than that.
What Makes a Python Dangerous?
Size and strength make a python dangerous for common prey, large animals, other snakes, and humans. A python relies on two elements to take down a target: its sharp teeth and strong body. It first seizes prey by biting it. Then, with each exhale, it coils around the target, suffocating and potentially crushing it in the process.
Even though they lack venom, pythons are to be feared in the animal kingdom. Reports show that Burmese pythons are able to attack, fight, and ultimately eat animals as big as alligators. After all, pythons can swallow prey five times as wide as their head, thanks to incredibly stretchy ligaments in their jaws. In fact, Burmese pythons are one of the four species (besides African rock pythons, green anacondas, and reticulated pythons) known to eat humans.
Who Emerges Victorious in a Rattlesnake vs. Python Battle?
Pythons are not immune to snake venom, while rattlesnakes are not immune to being crushed alive. As such, it would be difficult to determine a winner. A video shows how a python can get the first strike on a rattlesnake, biting its head and then trying to constrict it. The rattlesnake, however, is as slippery as all snakes and manages to escape the coiling body and the python’s jaws.
In short, if a python gets the first strike, it can potentially subdue the rattlesnake and eventually kill it. In the mentioned video, the python bit directly into the rattlesnake’s skull and who knows how much the latter can do after that.
On the other hand, if a rattlesnake gets the first bite and injects enough venom, then the python will eventually die. The issue is that the python will respond and could potentially kill the rattlesnake before succumbing to the powerful venom of the rattlesnake.
Another Florida Showdown: Who Emerges Victorious in a Kingsnake vs. Python Battle?
So what would happen if a python were to face off with another venomous snake — like a kingsnake?
The kingsnake doesn’t describe a single species but covers a group of 6-30 species of moderate size with a range between the countries of Canada and Ecuador. As Burmese pythons and some kingsnakes share the same habitat of Florida, it’s possible that these reptiles might come into conflict.
Kingsnakes are smaller than pythons and typically measure 3.3-4.9 feet in length on average. Like pythons, kingsnakes use constriction to suffocate their prey. Kingsnakes are known for their ability to kill and consume other snakes even if they are venomous, including copperheads, rattlesnakes, and other kingsnakes.
However, in a fight between a kingsnake and a python, it’s more likely that the python would be the winner due to their size advantage. Burmese pythons are around 2-3 times larger and longer than the average kingsnake and can take down much larger animals than kingsnakes, such as alligators and deer. Read more about the matchup between a kingsnake and python here.
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