Sometimes, even in our dog-eat-dog world, particularly epic meals catch our attention.
Pythons and boas, large snakes that constrict their prey, are known for their ambitious appetites: Indonesia's reticulated pythons can take down and eat slow lorises, sun bears, and even adult Sulawesi pigs, which weigh between 90 and 150 pounds. Green anacondas in South America can comfortably eat capybaras, the world’s largest rodents.
And 2017 saw many incredible examples of how powerful these reptiles can be. Here are a few—plus some oldies too awesome not to include.
Rock Python vs. Hyena
In March, researchers in southwestern Kenya stumbled across a 13-foot-long African rock python that was swallowing a 150-pound hyena whole.
“To my knowledge there has been no precedent for this in terms of documentation,” research assistant Mike Kowalski said via email.
“Large carnivores can certainly interact with large pythons, as their cubs are probably on the menu, but an adult lion or leopard or hyena would likely dispatch the python very quickly.”
Burmese Python vs. Monitor Lizard
In November—just in time for Thanksgiving—video emerged of a python regurgitating a large monitor lizard. When under duress, snakes need to be agile to either make a quick getaway or attack their opponents.
After a large meal, however, is one of the worst times for a snake to be attacked. While snakes like pythons have fangs to grasp their prey, they don’t use these teeth to chew their food.
"When they swallow something relatively large, it can make them less mobile, so when they're harassed, it's common for them to regurgitate the meal," Max Nickerson, the herpetology curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said in a prior interview.
Eastern Brown Snake vs. Carpet Python
Sometimes, things don't go so well for the pythons themselves.
While venomous eastern brown snakes such as the one seen in this video have been known to eat smaller snakes, it's rare to see one attempt to swallow something as big as a carpet python.
Filmed in Australia, the footage captures the eastern brown meticulously devouring a python on a family's back patio. The snake was given three hours to eat before being relocated away from people, where it slithered off unharmed after its filling meal.
Rock Python vs. Leopard
Rock pythons have long, curved teeth that can easily inflict deep wounds on their prey. At one point in the video, the enormous reptile does get a bite of its feline attacker, but not enough to put the mother leopard out of the game.
In the end, after a tumultuous battle, the mother leopard kills the snake, sharing its carcass with the cub as a meal.
Burmese Python vs. American Alligator
The mostly intact dead gator was found sticking out of a hole in the midsection of the python, and wads of gator skin were found in the snake’s gastrointestinal tract.
The gruesome discovery suggests that the python’s feisty last meal might have been simply too much for it to handle.
Burmese Python vs. Pregnant Sheep
In 2006, firefighters in the Malaysian village of Jabor were called in to remove a bloated python that had eaten a pregnant sheep.
The reptile was too full to slither away and digest its supersize meal. But the stress of being captured likely triggered the python to purge—it eventually regurgitated the dead ewe.
Burmese Python vs. ... Electric Blanket?
Perhaps the most surprising story of a python with eyes too big for its stomach is that of Houdini, a 12-foot Burmese python that ate a queen-size electric blanket, complete with electrical cord and control box, in 2006.
The blanket’s wiring extended through about eight feet of digestive tract of the 60-pound reptile—which, miraculously, lived. The blanket probably got tangled up with the snake’s rabbit dinner.
Now that’s what you call a shocking situation.