REVEALED! The Largest Animal Ever Killed By A Snake

Written by Taiwo Victor
Published: July 8, 2022
© Chris Graf/Shutterstock.com
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Snakes are among the animals that instill the most terror in people. However, the likelihood of encountering a venomous snake, much less getting bitten and dying from the venom injected into one’s body, is extremely low compared to the probability of death from cancer, heart disease, or an automobile accident. Nevertheless, many people still experience great anxiety due to this seemingly unreasonable fear.

Certain snake species exist that are so enormous that most people would be shocked at what they consume. The most popular video suggestions for “snake eats” shed light on our fascination with the nasty and frightening. Some of the ideas are disgusting (“snake eats frog alive”) or difficult to imagine (“snake eats porcupine“). Some seem to be symbolic (“snake eats other snakes“). Many recommendations, however, focus on one idea in particular: size. With that in mind, what is the largest animal a snake has ever devoured?

Animals like snakes are quite prosperous. Snakes can be found worldwide except for a few islands and the coldest regions. Additionally, they are extremely diverse, and snakes’ food varies greatly from type to size. This article will explore the largest animal ever killed by a snake and other fascinating facts.

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What is the Largest Animal Ever Killed by a Snake?

The largest animal killed by a snake was a 150-pound hyena.

A 150-pound hyena swallowed by an African rock python in 2017 was the largest animal ever known to have been killed by a snake. Researchers in southwest Kenya discovered the 13-foot African rock python coiled around the hyena as it swallowed the latter whole. Before this one, the biggest animal ever consumed by a snake was a 130 lb impala, devoured by an African rock python in 1955.

Big carnivores can engage with large pythons, and since their young are undoubtedly on the latter’s menu, they probably will do so, but an adult lion, leopard, or hyena can get rid of the python very quickly. That is certainly not the case with this one since the footage led researchers to reevaluate their initial assumptions about rock pythons’ capacity for hunting potentially lethal prey.

What Other Large Animals Have Been Killed by Snakes?

top 10 non-traditional pets - Capybara
Capybaras are easily consumed by green anacondas.

©Andrew M. Allport/Shutterstock.com

Pythons and boas are renowned for having voracious appetites. Reticulated pythons from Indonesia may take down and consume slow lorises, sun bears, and even adult Sulawesi pigs, weighing between 90 and 150 pounds. The biggest rodents in the world, capybaras, can be easily consumed by green anacondas in South America. For the pythons themselves, things occasionally don’t go so smoothly. Although venomous eastern brown snakes have been known to devour smaller snakes, it’s rare to see one ingest something as large as a carpet python.

The hyena may be the largest animal ever killed, but there are likely undocumented instances of larger creatures being eaten by snakes. In general, these snakes consume cattle and deer; in fact, a Burmese python in Florida was recorded in 2018 gulping down a 35-pound deer. Moreover, two instances of reticulated pythons killing and eating humans have been documented. Who can predict when the current record will be surpassed?

What Was the Largest Prehistoric Snake?

Titanoboa illustration
The Titanoboa is the largest prehistoric snake.

©Michael Rosskothen/Shutterstock.com

Since between 145 and 65 million years ago, snakes as we know them have been crawling over the planet. Due to its size and length, which was longer than a school bus, the Titanoboa is our biggest prehistoric snake. If you thought the 15-foot-long anaconda was horrifying, try picturing the 42-foot-long Titanoboa, a boa constrictor 3 feet wide at its widest point. Some people even think this snake has the potential to grow to reach 50 feet long. Additionally, it might weigh up to 2,500 pounds, which is well over a ton.

What Was the Largest Animal Titanoboa Ate?

Based on the other creatures discovered in the paleocene era, the Titanoboa most likely consumed huge prehistoric crocodiles (Anthracosuchus balrogus), which weighed 900 pounds (408.5 kg) and were 16 feet (4.8 meters) long. It devoured turtles and fought giant snakes with its ferocious bite and blunt snout. The location of the new crocodilian discovery is the same coal mine in Colombia where the giant snake fossils were found. Hence, the largest known snake to have slithered the Earth’s surface was likely hunting this massive reptile.

A snake the size of a Titanoboa might seem like it could eat anything it wanted, but scientists say the snake often consumed fish. It’s also possible that they thrived on turtles; however, it would have been difficult for them to consume the enormous freshwater turtles. Five million years after the dinosaur extinction, Titanoboa, the mythical giant serpent, flourished in the South American forests. When the giant dinosaurs died, a void developed at the top of the food chain, and Titanoboa eagerly filled it.

Can Snakes Hurt Themselves By Consuming Large Prey?

The answer is no; snakes do not feel any pain when they swallow prey much bigger than they are. Snakes can do this thanks to a few adaptations. Due to their lack of limbs and biting teeth, snakes have evolved the capacity to swallow enormous objects. The snakes’ jaws, digestive system, and metabolism are the major evolutionary features that allow them to consume large meals.

Jaws

Some of the weirdest features in the animal realm include snake jaws. Their lack of a fused jaw is one of the things that distinguishes them. Snakes lose power without a fused jaw (similar to humans), but they gain flexibility. Power isn’t crucial for a snake’s jaws if it doesn’t chew. In addition, a snake’s jaw can expand to a maximum of 160 degrees, but a human can only do so to a maximum of 26 degrees due to tendons and connective tissue.

Digestion

The snake’s digestive system goes into overdrive as soon as food enters its stomach through its unique jaws. Their inside organs shrink, making more space for the prey to relax and decompress in their stomach. They also begin to break down the whole animal, leaving only the hip bones, hair, and hooves when their digestive secretions begin to function. Later, the “extras” are regurgitated.

Metabolism

A snake needs a location to rest and digest its meal when it has a substantial meal. A snake is known to seek refuge, sit and digest for up to a month after consuming a truly heavy meal. It can sit still for the entire time, thanks to its slow metabolism.

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The Featured Image

African rock python curled up with head in air
Rock pythons have pelvic spurs which help with identification.
© Chris Graf/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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