Wild pigsReticulated pythons consume a wide range of differently sized animals. Python reticulatus consumes animals as small as mice, to animals as large as deer and pigs. There have even been instances of pythons eating animals such as leopards! The method by which the reticulated python captures and consumes its food is also truly fascinating.

RatThe reticulated python stalks or ambushes its prey, and it usually strikes by first biting the prey. After it has grabbed ahold of the prey animal, it quickly wraps its body around the victim, and begins to tightly coil itself around the animal. The amount of pressure that the python places on the prey is not usually enough to break the bones, but rather enough to simply strangle the animal, and to suffocate it. Often, the coils collapse the prey's chest, which deflates the lunges and compresses the heart. This can lead to an inadequate flow of blood throughout the organism, and usually leads to death. After the prey is inside the reticulated python, it passes through its esophagous, stomach, and intestines, until finally it exits the body via the anus.

Snake anatomyReticulated pythons are triploblastic (three germ layers) and possess a true coelom, which is a fluid filled cavity within the mesodermal layer. Within this cavity are the internal organs of the snake such as the esophagus (1), trachea (2) tracheal lungs (3), rudimentary left lung (4), right lung (5), heart (6), liver (7), stomach (8), air sac (9), gallbladder (10), pancreas (11), spleen (12), intestines (13), testicles (14) and kidneys (15). The reticulated python has a closed circulatory system, which means that it has vessels for the transport of blood, which contains hemoglobin - a protein used for transporting oxygen. Since snakes are cold blooded, the reticulated python relies on warmer temperatures to survive.

Once python reticulatus has killed its prey, it consumes it whole. It is able to do this by unhinging its jaw in order to compensate for the much larger size of the prey. Being limbless, the reticulated python cannot hold onto its prey or tear it. Instead, python reticulatus has what is called a "free-floating jaw." The bones in the reticulated python's mouth are positioned so that the jaws can move forwards, backwards, in or out. Together with the snake's downward facing teeth, the mouth pulls the prey item into the python's mouth, with the teeth acting as tools to latch onto the creature.

Warning: the below video contains graphic content.

Youtube video created by JonahVore

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