Our world is home to some truly incredible snakes. Travel to Africa, Asia, or North America, and you might find snakes ranging anywhere from a few inches long to the length of a school bus. The smallest snakes eat nothing but insects, but what do the largest snakes in the world eat?
Here, we’ll take a look at ten of the largest snakes on Earth and what their favorite meals consist of. We’ll learn where these snakes live, what they look like, and just how big they get. Additionally, we’ll learn just how each of the largest snakes in the world hunts its prey.
Australia and Indonesia
King Brown Snake (Pseudechis australis)
The largest venomous snake in Australia, the king brown snake, eats small mammals, birds, bird eggs, reptiles, reptile eggs, and amphibians. King brown snakes grow to a length of nearly 11 feet. They have slender bodies and rely on venom, rather than constriction, to kill their prey. These snakes range in color from red-brown to brown-black, with pale bellies and round pupils.
Amethystine Python (Simalia amethistina)
Amethystine pythons eat a combination of small mammals and birds, including possums, wallabies, rats, and bats. Like all pythons, they’re carnivorous constrictors and squeeze their prey to death. Also known as scrub pythons, these snakes grow up to 16 feet long, though females are significantly bigger than males. Possibly their most distinctive feature is the iridescent quality of their scales, which has given them the nickname rainbow python.
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
King cobras eat smaller snakes and lizards, including banded kraits, rat snakes, pit vipers, pythons, and whip snakes. These snakes grow to an astonishing 19 feet long and can spit venom over 10 feet. Like all cobras, they have flattened ribs in their neck which they can spread in the distinctive cobra hood. Adults are dark brown or black, with pale stripes and tan throats. They’re highly venomous, and bites on humans are always considered a medical emergency.
Indian Python (Python molurus)
Indian pythons mostly consume mammals like rodents but won’t say no to birds, amphibians, or reptiles. They spend much of their lives in the water and move slowly and hunt only infrequently. These snakes can grow up to 10 feet long and greatly resemble other species of python. They have brown and tan markings and heavy bodies designed for constricting prey. They’re also known as black-tailed pythons, Asian rock pythons, or Indian rock pythons.
Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)
Burmese pythons are opportunistic hunters that eat birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Rodents like rats and mice are some of their favorite foods. The larger the python, the bigger the prey it can kill and eat. The largest Burmese pythons in the Everglades may eat alligators, deer, or even pigs and goats. In the 1980s, well-meaning owners released their too-big Burmese pythons into the Everglades. Since then, these incredible predators have wiped out just about every fur-bearing creature in the park.
Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus)
Reticulated pythons are ambush predators who eat small to medium-sized mammals and birds. Larger specimens are capable of eating pigs, deer, and even monkeys. Though uncommon, there are recorded instances of reticulated pythons eating humans as well. Reticulated pythons are native to Southeast Asia and live as far west as India.
Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor)
Popular as pets, boa constrictors eat mainly birds, rodents, lizards, medium-sized mammals like wild pigs, and amphibians. The bigger they grow, the bigger the prey they’re capable of consuming. Boa constrictors are native to South America and parts of the Caribbean. Adults range from brown to olive green, with yellow markings and yellow bellies. Their heads are long and heavy, like their bulky bodies.
Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
Green anacondas spend most of their time in the water, where they eat birds, small mammals, and reptiles that stray too close to the water’s edge. They also eat amphibians and fish. The largest green anacondas are capable of eating caimans, capybaras, tapirs, and deer. Green anacondas are native to South America and can reach lengths of nearly 20 feet.
Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)
Black mambas eat small prey like birds, rodents, bushbabies, hyraxes, and bats. These snakes use their powerful venom to strike prey. Then, they wait for the victim to die before swallowing it whole. Black mambas are among the most famous and feared snakes in Africa. They’re known to be highly aggressive. This, coupled with their deadly venom, means that bites are common and usually serious.
African Rock Python (Python sebae)
African rock pythons eat medium to large animals. These include monkeys, crocodiles, lizards, antelopes, birds, warthogs, rodents, and even goats and fish. These huge constrictors can even consume hyenas and large impalas. The largest African rock pythons grow up to 15 feet long. They have olive-green and tan markings arranged in irregular splotches along their body. There are currently two recognized subspecies; both live in the southern half of Africa, and both are among the largest snakes in the world.
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