Snakes and crocodiles are two of the most feared, most misunderstood creatures on the planet. While snakes range in size from just a few inches long to well over 20 feet long, crocodilians also vary in size. Crocodilians include crocodiles (like Nile and saltwater crocodiles) alligators, gharials, and caimans. But, are there massive snakes that can eat crocodiles? Can one apex predator actually kill and eat another?
Here, we’ll learn about two living species of massive snake that have been documented consuming crocodilians. Then, we’ll take a look at two of the largest snakes that ever lived, and find out if they too could have eaten crocodiles. Finally, we’ll discover some of today’s largest snakes that could, theoretically, eat a crocodile.
Extant Snakes that Eat Crocodilians
Both large snakes and crocodiles are apex predators in their natural environments. This means that they have no natural predators, except, perhaps, each other. Massive snakes that can eat crocodiles don’t generally prey on other predators—they’re too dangerous to tangle with. Instead, they usually eat tamer prey, like deer, rats, raccoons, and other small to medium sized mammals.
But, there are at least two species of giant snake out there that have been documented killing and eating crocodilians. Let’s find out more!
1. Burmese Python
Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia, but they’re also one of the most problematic invasive species in North America. These invasive pythons in the Florida Everglades eat just about everything in sight—including American alligators. They’re big enough too, topping out at around 23 feet long.
There have been multiple documented cases of these massive snakes doing just that—swallowing gators whole. Unfortunately for the snake, sometimes the alligator, though dead, is just too large to digest. There is at least one recorded case of a dead alligator bursting through the stomach of a Burmese python, leading to the python’s death.
2. Olive Python
Olive pythons are massive snakes that can eat crocodiles. They grow up to 13 feet long, with heavy bodies built for constricting and swallowing large prey. They are native to northern Australia, and typically feed on easy targets, like wallabies, birds, monitor lizards, and bats. However, they have often been observed picking off young, small crocodiles. And, there has been at least one recorded instance of a large olive python killing and eating a large, adult crocodile.
Extinct Snakes that Could Eat a Crocodile
Some of the largest snakes that ever lived actually died out millions of years ago, which is probably a good thing for us humans. But, were these giants of a forgotten age capable of killing and eating an adult crocodile? Most animals don’t mess with large crocodilians, but the largest snakes that ever slithered the Earth just might have.
Let’s find out which two extinct giant snakes could have eaten a crocodile!
This massive snake that can eat crocodiles is the largest snake that ever lived. Topping out at an estimated 50 feet, it lived around 60 million years ago, in the ancient rainforests of what is now South America. Titanoboa didn’t live at the same time as today’s crocodilians, but, if it still lived today, it would almost certainly have no trouble killing and eating even the largest of crocs. In fact, scientists believe that titanoboa often snacked on an ancient crocodilian, known as Cerrejonisuchus improcerus, that grew to around seven feet long.
Though not quite as big as titanoboa, gigantophis was no snake to mess with. Growing up to an estimated 35 feet long, this behemoth of the ancient world lived around 40 million years ago, in what is today northern Africa. If it was alive today, it’s highly likely that gigantophis could eat just about anything it wanted—including crocodiles and alligators. But, it’s normal prey more likely included medium to large mammals.
Snakes that Could Theoretically Eat a Crocodile
So, we’ve learned about living snakes that have been recorded munching on crocodilians. And, we’ve discovered two extinct snakes that could almost certainly snack on even the largest crocodiles. But, what about other large snakes slithering the Earth today? Burmese and olive pythons aren’t the only giant snakes out there capable of eating crocodiles, they’re just the only ones that have been documented doing it.
Let’s take a look at a few more massive snakes that can eat a crocodile. We’ll go over the reasons they could take on a croc, and the reasons they may never be observed in the act.
1. Green Anaconda
Green anacondas grow up to 17 feet long and live in the northern half of South America. They’ve never been observed eating a crocodilian, though they do share some territory with Orinoco crocodiles. Given their size, it’s likely these behemoths could take on a crocodile, though they’ve never been documented doing so. Adult crocodiles are a dangerous target, which puts them low on the list of food items.
2. Indian Python
Indian pythons grow up to ten feet long and inhabit the Indian subcontinent. They share their habitat with mugger crocodiles, saltwater crocodiles, and gharials. These snakes have never been documented eating crocodilians, but they’re certainly large enough to eat small crocodiles. Indian pythons primarily eat mammals not reptiles.
3. Amethystine Python
These massive snakes that can eat crocodiles live in Indonesia and northern Australia. They grow up to 15 feet long, and are theoretically capable of eating crocodiles. However, they’ve never been documented doing so. This is likely because crocodiles aren’t the ideal prey, like wallabies, rats, birds, and other warm blooded creatures. Amethystine pythons share some parts of their range with saltwater crocodiles.
4. Reticulated Python
Reticulated pythons live in Southeast Asia, where they grow up to 20 feet long. With their size and weight, they could undoubtedly eat a crocodilian. But, they’ve never been documented killing or eating one of these dangerous reptiles. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is that they don’t really share any territory with crocodilians. Also, reticulated pythons would rather eat creatures like deer and wild pigs, than attack a dangerous predator.
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- , Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/terrifying-photos-show-a-python-devouring-a-crocodile-in-australia-2019-6
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