Pythons Grow Bigger Hearts at Mealtimes
Burmese pythons add 40 percent to their hearts' muscle mass within 48 hours of feeding, according to new research, which found that the process is fully reversible.
New research shows that when the reptiles swallow whole rats, birds, and other prey, the pythons' hearts temporarily grow bigger.
(Read: Why a Giant Python Regurgitated a Lizard Half Its Size.)
Scientists in California say the snakes experience a 40 percent increase in heart muscle mass within 48 hours of feeding. The change enables the pythons to meet the metabolic demands of digesting a meal.
What's more, the process is fully reversible, with the snakes' hearts shrinking back to their original size once feeding ends.
Pythons can offer new insights to understanding heart growth in other species, including humans, according to researchers behind the discovery, which is reported in the current issue of the science journal Nature.
One of the world's largest snakes, the