Nutrition Reticulated pythons consume a wide range of differentlysized 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.
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.
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.