Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Adventures with a python

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It was a sunny day. We went along the shores of Lake Baringo, Kenya. Our task was to catch some crocodiles and hand them over to the zoo. These reptiles are completely harmless to humans and you can safely go swimming with them. They are small in size and have not been heard of attacking humans. Rather, when they see people, they try to avoid contact.

So we slowly wandered through the shallows which from the shore to the depth of the lake was about 30 meters. The water was clear and reached just below the knees. The little crocodiles both ran away and stopped for a moment to show interest in us. However, they did not dare to attack. They occasionally emerged from the surface of the water to show their jaws. The water was rippling all the time, preventing them from being caught. It distracted me from the snake that was lurking behind me and looking for an opportunity to attack.

Suddenly I heard strong splashes of water behind me and a snake's head appeared above it. Wide open jaws were a clear sign of attack. Apparently I had disturbed it during the crocodile hunt. For a moment I was overwhelmed by shock, so scared that I barely held my feet so as not to fall into the water.

Another moment, and I woke up from the first fright and began to appreciate the attacker.

The python was about three meters long, the thickness of an adult's leg. A reptile of this size is very dangerous even for an experienced human. Failure to provide timely assistance can end tragically.

The snake tried to grab me by the thigh. However, I managed to get out of its bite. On the second attack, it showed increased aggression and tried to grab me by the waist. This time, too, I deftly avoided its attack. As the python pulled his head back to prepare for a new jump, with my left hand I grabbed him neatly by the neck and pulled out of the water. As soon as his whole body was lifted out,  the slimy snake was already in my both  hands. But not for long.

Its strong body, however, took superiority, broke out of my grip and in an instant he was around my neck. Now I realized that I would not be able to cope on my own.  I was afraid to get under water where the fight would be hopeless. So with a python on my back, I hurried to the shore.

My wrestling had already been noticed by my colleagues, who hurriedly quit their jobs and rushed to save me. The snake gradually recovered from my grip and began to writhe furiously. To save me from biting, both colleagues snatched it from my hands and let the snake in the water a few meters away.

If the help hadn't arrived on time, it's very likely that I, strangled, would already be in the python's belly.

How to avoid being swallowed?

Of course, there is no definite answer. The first shock occurs when you see the open jaws of a snake. It paralyzes the victim. Every effort should be made to avoid being bitten. The open python jaws show long tusks that is bent towards the throat.

Grasping the victim, the jaw slowly closes, thus pulling the victim deeper and deeper into the throat. The snake cuts the terrible tusks into the prey, and then wraps around it in a jiffy. It is no longer possible to avoid the tormenting death.

To prevent the worst from happening, it is recommended to lie down on the ground and not let the snake strangle you. It is just enough to have a half of snake's body loop wrapped around the victim to be deadly.

Another encounter

Quite an interesting impression is created by watching the process of strangulation, as in a slow motion. One of the employees of the zoo provided me with such an opportunity.

We found about half a meter long very aggressive python.

My colleague placed the snake on my arm. As soon as the snake was released, it accepted my hand as a victim and quickly coiled its body around it. Thus began the strangulation process. Python's body tightened. From time to time, I tensed and loosened my arm muscles, as donors always do when donating blood. The moment the muscles relaxed, the snake's body used it and tightened more and more.

I pumped the muscles repeatedly until I realized that they had become entangled to the point that blood circulation was blocked. And then the pain began. I never imagined that a little reptile in the thickness of a thumb has such a cruel force. My experiment had to be stopped. For many more days, strangling grooves appeared on my hand as memories of the aggressiveness of the little python.

Creature's features

The African python is one of the three largest species of snakes in the world. Their length is 4.8-6m (16-20ft), but can reach 28ft. Pythons of this species are found in Central Africa, Somalia, Congo, and South Africa. They usually live in grassy savannas, near reservoirs. Sometimes even in the jungle. Despite the aggressive nature of the python, its only enemy is man.

Like all pythons, they are cold-blooded reptiles. Pythons smell with the help of the tongue, which occasionally shoots from the mouth at a distance of about 10 cm. In the upper and lower part of the jaw there are sensory organs that feel a warm-blooded animal up to 30m away. In search of food, it travels through rocky, grassy areas. It rarely climbs the trees. This species has a strong body muscle structure.

It lurks for prey from rock crevices and then suddenly attacks. All pythons ingest food without chewing. First, the victim is strangled, and when all signs of life have disappeared, swallowing begins, as usual from the head. Their favorite food is young antelopes, lizards, crocodiles, and monkeys. They rarely attack humans. However, if it is very irritated it turns for a counterattack.

Published on 4 July 2021

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