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September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
Cursed by Allah
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000
The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
Mule elected G.O.P. committeeman, 1938
Actress who claimed she was kidnapped by puritans, 1950
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
Python Swallows Gator
Status: True
image A recent news story about a python swallowing a gator has been receiving a lot of attention. It's already been posted in the forum (by Stephen), but I've been getting so many emails about it that I decided to post it here as well. These are the facts, as I understand them: The body of a six-foot gator was found last week in the Everglades, inside of a python. The python had tried to swallow the gator, but this caused its stomach to burst open. It's stomach subsequently burst open. (Must have been an unpleasant way for the python to die.) I don't see any reason to doubt this information. Skip Snow, the biologist who found the bodies of the python and gator, seems like a credible source. The unresolved question, as Snow states, is why the python swallowed the gator, and under what circumstances. Did the python attack the gator while it was alive? Or did the python try to swallow a dead gator? No one knows. Either way, that was a pretty suicidal python. Inevitably this will add fuel to all those urban legends about people eaten by snakes.
Categories: Animals
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 06, 2005
Comments (37)
"The python had tried to swallow the gator, but this caused its stomach to burst open."

It is not stated what caused the stomach to rupture. It could have been bitten open by another alligator. The snake was found without a head.
Posted by Tamandua  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  12:32 AM
True. My mistake.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  12:45 AM
The gator was too big for the python to consume. Pythons aren't very good at measuring their food before consuming it so this does happen quite often in the wild and captivitey. The largest food item a snake can consume is roughly 2 1/2 times the diameter of their neck area. They will not swallow live prey, so the gator could not have torn it up from the inside.
Posted by 8EΞ≡  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  08:06 AM
Well, the story states that they believe the gator wasn't truly dead, the snake just thought so. Then the gator ripped through it's stomach...I had a ball python that tried to consume a rat after he thought he killed it...gues what, it escapes it's grasp......then I just took it out and hit it over the head with a hammer...
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  10:15 AM
X, you are lying or stupid. Pythons don't swallow what is still breathing. They tell if something is still breathing because they cover the prey animal's mouth with their mouth to smother them first and don't let go until the breathing stops.
Posted by 8EΞ≡  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  10:34 AM
Just saying what I saw.....and it's not a good idea to call a moderator "stupid" on here....For future reference.......
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  12:45 PM
As X said, even the "experts" are speculating that the gator may very well have been alive when the python tried to eat it, so if you want to say anyone is lying or stupid, it should be those experts, not X.
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  01:58 PM
I've heard of Skip Snow before relating to pythons in the Everglades, performing some study on pythons. I think it might have been in a National Geographic article. So he does seem to be a legitimate and credible source indeed.

And to whomever was talking about X being stupid or lying, you apparently didn't even read the article. As Chuck says, biologists say that sometimes pythons will try to eat an animal that's not quite dead. From the article:

"Joe Wasilewski, a South Miami-Dade biologist and expert gator and crocodile tracker, examined the photos and surmised the gator wasn't quite dead when the snake swallowed it snout-first.

That's not uncommon, he said. ''That [gator] could have been kicking its hind legs and ruptured the snake's stomach wall,'' Wasilewski said."
Posted by Accipiter  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  04:23 PM
"The gator was too big for the python to consume."

What are you saying? It is obvious (from looking at the photo) that the snake was able to ENTIRELY consume the alligator. We don't know the sequence of events afterwards. We know that the snake's midsection is ruptured (with the alligator's body protruding from the hindquarters rearwards) and it is missing its head. The snake does not appear to be in a state of decomposition and the gator does not seem to be digested to any visible degree.

The "experts" comments which have been quoted in the various articles about what may have happened, seem incomplete and possibly premature. Since the snake's head is missing, we can feasibly presume that some living agent removed it. That same agent may have torn open the body as well. The snake could have been preyed upon while alive, or scavanged if it were already dead. A human might have done this damage as well.

It is very difficult to believe that this gator could have survived being contricted and then swallowed entirely. There is no air inside a python's gut and there are highly acidic digestive enzymes present throughout.

Given what we have been told and what we can see, I think it is presumptive to think that the ingestion of the alligator was the DIRECT CAUSE of the death of this snake.
Posted by Tamandua  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  04:40 PM
"Slowed by the extra weight, the snake might have been attacked by another gator, which could explain a missing python head."

Mazzotti said a similar scenario could have happened even if the gator were dead because of a quirk of its nervous system. Until a gator's spinal cord is severed and literally stirred into jelly with a special tool, he said, ``a dead alligator gives a remarkably good imitation of being alive. One of the things they do is they move their legs like they're walking. Those claws are pretty sharp. It could tear through the [snake's] skin.''
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  04:54 PM
"Joe Wasilewski, a South Miami-Dade biologist and expert gator and crocodile tracker, examined the photos and surmised the gator wasn't quite dead when the snake swallowed it snout-first.

That's not uncommon, he said. ''That [gator] could have been kicking its hind legs and ruptured the snake's stomach wall,'' Wasilewski said."

That is quite an amazing thing to suggest in this case - that the gator was still alive inside the snake. It may have taken hours for this snake to fully consume the gator. Almost the entire time, the nostrils (a gator's only respiratory inlet) would have been inside the snake. Look at how far the gator had to travel through the snake's gut to REACH the point where it would have "kicked its hind legs and ruptured the stomach wall". I am skeptical that this is what happened.
Posted by Tamandua  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  05:00 PM
Tamandua, you are right about speculation however no is quite sure what exactly transpired so we are left only with speculation...obviously speculation from an expert on the subject of snakes and alligators is preferable to the speculations of a laymen.

You say "It may have taken hours for this snake to fully consume the gator."

It may have, I dont know but I do know an average gator can stay underwater around 60 minutes...perhaps the python, with his teeny tiny little brain failed to compensate for this?
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  05:36 PM
Tamandua, read my last entry...a gator will still move after it is dead...nerves are still active. also, they said the battle all the way to the swallowing probably would have taken 24 hours.
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  06:34 PM
Alex! ITS NOT POSSESIVE!
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  07:17 PM
"Tamandua, read my last entry...a gator will still move after it is dead...nerves are still active. also, they said the battle all the way to the swallowing probably would have taken 24 hours."

Read your entry. What news article states the 24-hour battle?

""Slowed by the extra weight, the snake might have been attacked by another gator, which could explain a missing python head."

Mazzotti said a similar scenario could have happened even if the gator were dead because of a quirk of its nervous system. Until a gator's spinal cord is severed and literally stirred into jelly with a special tool, he said, ``a dead alligator gives a remarkably good imitation of being alive. One of the things they do is they move their legs like they're walking. Those claws are pretty sharp. It could tear through the [snake's] skin.''"

That "other" gator may have also torn open the stomach and pulled out half of the eaten gator. Mazzotti doesn't hesitate to pile up the dramatic rhetoric in place of a detailed examination and necropsy. If the injested gator clawed through the stomach, it would probably be evident from a close examination. So far, it seems that the "experts" are giving an armchair evaluation... just like we are doing.

In this case, it would not have been enough to simply tear open the stomach with the claws using post-mortem reflexes or living muscles. The gator had to also break open the surrounding musculature, ribs and skin. Then one has to explain how the back half of the gator "extracted itself" from the anterior gut of the snake. It is a weird scene, to say the least. This is much more than a big hole in the snake's midsection with the two rear gator legs protruding.

When the snake swallowed the gator, the legs would have been pressed close to the body. This is a natural swimming position for alligators and in this position they are quite streamlined. The interior of the tight muscular snake stomach probably affords little room or accomodation to move the legs (even under post-mortem nervous reflex). The gator's legs might not be able to achieve angle and leverage to tear open the stomach, let alone the entire body. Even if this did actually occur, one still has to try to explain how the alligator's hindquarters (rear pelvis, legs and tail) were able to completely exit the body of the snake. The hole in the snake is enormous and nearly cut this animal in half.
Posted by Tamandua  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  07:21 PM
On "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" today, on NPR, there was a Miami journalist named Carl Hiassen who said the alligator had been hit with a blunt instrument on its head.

It all seems a bit fishy to me.
Posted by Liz  in  Massachusetts  on  Sat Oct 08, 2005  at  09:39 PM
Hiassen is more than just a Miami journalist. He is an extraordinary author of neo-classic mystery novels set in South Florida. Make it a priority to read "Native Tongue"!

But don't trust him to give straight dirt on the Glades pythogator incident.
Posted by Tamandua  on  Sun Oct 09, 2005  at  12:40 AM
I do know there are problems with the non-native python in the area...and I don't doubt this story. I'm sure in the coming weeks, the local scientists will be studying the animals quite a bit...and could possibly come up with an appropriate scenario.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Oct 09, 2005  at  08:11 AM
Here's my theory. The snake was already dead. The aligator started eating the snakes's stomach (maybe after eating the snake's head). The aligator crawled up inside of the snake's stomach to continue eating and suffocated.
Posted by kara  in  NYC  on  Mon Oct 10, 2005  at  12:55 PM
I'm no expert on snakes here so this is just a thought - how easy would it be to 'feed' a dead gator to a dead snake, like putting your leg in a sock? Perhaps you need the snake's muscle action to help the food down into the gullet, perhaps not. If you removed the head of the snake so you didn't have to dislocate the jaws as it would normally, would that make a difference? Seems quite a co-incidence that the head is missing. Surely scavengers would stay clear of that end of a 13ft snake, just in case! Maybe it was removed on purpose.

Maybe it's just me spending too much time on this site but I'm thinking the whole thing could have been staged. There's clearly an appetite for it (pardon the pun) as all these comments prove. Everyone loves stuff like this - well, anyone who, like me, always thought the T-Rex would beat Kong in a real fight...
Posted by riddle of steel  in  UK  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  11:16 AM
no. this was not a staged attempt. skip snow, in his first report of the incident wrote that the gator lost its first layer of skin due to the time it was being digested in the snake. furthermore, can you imagine lifting/shoving a six foot alligator into a snakes throat. no...
i also think a lot of people are underestimating the severity of this situation. never, until now, has the alligator had another animal compete for its food supply or niche. Not only is the gator a top predator, but it is also a keystone species. Without the gator, the enitire ecosystem can collapse into itself. Because a bunch of misguided idiots let their burmese pythons loose in the everglades, the alligators may have met their match. a few years ago it was big in the news that a python was fighting an alligator and it ended up in a draw. now we have pythons eating gator (alive or dead, it doesnt matter). we may be witnessing a new stage in the destruction of the everglades. :(
Posted by kris  in  miami flori-duh  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  04:44 PM
I still smell a bit of a rat.

If it took the snake several hours to encompass the alligator the alligator's head would have been inside the snake for a long time - not much air in there.

The snake continues to swallow the alligator.

If we accept that an alligator will start moving "some time after death" - can this still happen after the several hours needed to cover the snake.

I have no great experience with killing things but from that meagre knowledge you dispatch the poor creature - but it continues to move at that point.

It would seem very strange that the animal might be quiet for several hours where there is no supply of air and then suddenly burst into vigorous action.

The other interesting thing is that despite the story being quite remarkable there hasn't seemed to be any additional information come out. Everyone is just requoting the same original story. That seems a little strange. Perhaps the next couple of days that may change.

MIK
Posted by Boatmik  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  06:32 AM
I have seen pictures of a jackalope and several ufo's. Oh, and there is that one of bigfoot and the moon landing. My point of course is that nobody seems to have a reasonable explanation of the circumstances, and the hypothesis' that are being vomited onto the web by lonely internet insomniacs proves that any subject with a strange photo(real or otherwise)is suitable reason for the socially deceased to spring from their mothers basement long enough to look up python in the encyclopedia. Thank you and have a great day.
Posted by clamwarmer  in  california  on  Wed Oct 19, 2005  at  10:40 AM
What a dummy that python was...(so dumb, he lost his head!) but come to think of it, gator can be mighty tastey! tongue rolleye
Posted by jim  in  Florida  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  08:35 AM
you know what I think - the snake ate the alligator (dead or alive, I reckon it could have killed it but either way it ate it). Then maybe the snake died, or was caught by humans and killed. They cut its head off as a souvineer and cut it open to check it wasn't a person inside ('6 foot alligator'). Maybe they don't want to come forward for some reason (called in sick that day?...). I don't think the movements of the gator could have torn the snake open to that degree, and got the lower half of the body out of the snake. And if the snake was attacked by another gator why eat only the head?
Posted by pete  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  08:50 AM
Amazing, i have seen photos of a news cover while the gator and the python was going at it. Amazing, how often to you see this strange thing happen. Two animal that are on top of the food chain going at it for the thron. I heard the python wasn't a native to the Florida swamp. People have realease them there amazing im still shock that has to be the weirdest thing i have ever seen.
Posted by Street King  on  Mon Jan 16, 2006  at  10:58 PM
Yo I thought this was pritty cool so I did some research and it seems as "they" (the scientest) Have no clue to wat happend other than a snoke ate an aligator and the snake burster. So heres wat i think.

The snake saw the aligator and ate it but it died because the gators skin was to tought to digest. after a while the gator blothed and the snakes skin bursted. to explain the whole rear end sticking out I say that another gator tryed to eat the snakes head then saw the break and started on that. then got scared off. Leaving the huge gap. Im no expert Im just a 13 yr. old from florda so Im just takind a stab in the dark.
Posted by shea  in  colorado  on  Sun Jan 29, 2006  at  10:41 PM
Having some reptile experience, I can say that most likely what happened was that the snake ate the gator and then a human came across the really fat snake (which was exceptionally vulnerable at the time) and assumed that it had eaten a human. (*) So the snake was killed by decapitation then cut open to see if it really was a human inside. Since the gator would have been under enormous pressure while being digested, when the pressure was released as the snake was cut open, it just popped out sort of like a cork out of a bottle. Whoever did this, took the head as a trophy and left the rest.


(*) There are only 2 types of snake that really get big enough to do so, but they generally stay away from humans. One is a type of anaconda and the second is a reticulated python.
Posted by Lounge Lizard  in  El Paso, Tx  on  Wed Jul 05, 2006  at  09:50 PM
I think it is sad that python died in a misserbale way, I think my two sisters who are 14 and 9 would crie if they saw that, and I am sure alot of people who think snaks are th best animal like me, would be awfully upset.
If I were a pythonI would eat big animals such as pigs and live birds such as eagles and ostriches.
Pretty much most people who are and do own snakes are probaly upset about it like I said.
Posted by Ford ham/blake  in  redmond oregon 32 39 sw lava ave.  on  Sat Dec 16, 2006  at  03:18 AM
Look, it is entirely possible that a python can swallow an aligator.

video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=d577ae10679b0d3e6bfbd3fc1e98946e.1461829

At this site, there is a video of a python regurgitating a whole hippo. Freaky stuff
Posted by Plumbo  in  Scotland  on  Tue Jan 16, 2007  at  09:37 PM
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