Note to Pythons: Maybe Pass on the Giant Porcupines

South African snake's snack turns out to be a fatal idea
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2015 2:34 PM CDT
Note to Pythons: Maybe Pass on the Giant Porcupines
The no-longer-hungry python in question.   (Lake Eland Game Reserve)

Anyone traumatized by the 2005 report of the exploding python might have imagined this wasn't the best idea ever conceived by a predator: A cyclist in South Africa's Lake Eland Game Preserve earlier this month came upon a nearly 13-foot python who looked about as stuffed as your Uncle Elmer shoving back from Thanksgiving dinner. The cyclist took a couple of pictures, uploaded them to social media, gawkers came and gawked, and lots of speculation ensued about what the critter might've eaten, reports LiveScience, ranging from small warthog to the presumably tongue-in-cheek "errant child." A week later, however, the snake was found dead and park officials decided to have their answer.

Upon cutting the python open, they found a 30-pound porcupine, mostly undigested. The python's cause of death, however, is something of a chicken-and-egg game: While eating a massive, prickly porcupine probably wasn't its best career move, pythons have been know to eat both porcupines and larger prey and that alone probably wasn't enough to kill it. But the snake apparently fell down onto a ledge, notes LiveScience, and the porcupine's quills likely pierced something critical in the fall, like the snake's digestive tract. As Gizmodo puts it: "Now we know who wins when a snake fights a porcupine. Nobody." The Lake Eland Game Preserve posted all the grisly photos on Facebook. (More pythons stories.)

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