This snake may have bit off more than it can chew, or, rather, swallow. According to the Daily Mail, a 13-foot rock python was found dead by visitors at Lake Eland Game Reserve in South Africa. Its cause of death seems to be a 30-pound porcupine whose quills skewered the snake from the inside.
“It is apparent that several porcupine quills were lodged inside the digestive tract,” said the reserve’s General Manager Jennifer Fuller. “[The snake] had fallen off the rocky ledge. We don’t know if it died beforehand or whether the fall drove some of the quills into its digestive tract.”
Rangers at the reserve initially thought the snake had swallowed a small warthog or a baby impala. However, a field autopsy revealed that the snake was punctured by dozens of long porcupine quills, although none had managed to pierce through the reptile’s skin. Experts said they are somewhat surprised by the outcome of this python’s last meal. Although not many predators would dare to prey on an adult porcupine, rock pythons are one of the few that can successfully eat the prickly critters.
“Pythons do eat porcupines and usually without problems other than the odd quill stuck somewhere,” snake expert Johan Marais told Earth Touch News Network. “But when disturbed after a large meal, the natural reaction for a snake is to regurgitate its meal so that it is mobile again and can escape.”
It may be that the porcupine’s quills prevented the snake from vomiting it back out, causing the death of both animals.