The unusual enemies battled to the death, resulting in an unusual post-mortem pose.
King cobras and reticulated pythons are scary enough on their own, but what about when they engage in an epic battle to the death? A photo that surfaced on Facebook this weekend shows just what happens when the two serpents find themselves in a rare meeting.
The photo, posted on the Facebook page “Reptile Hunter,” shows the results of a lethal battle, thought to have taken place in Southeast Asia, the two reptiles’ shared habitat.
The cobra is seen stretched out on the ground, evidently strangled to death by its opponent, the python. Tightly curled around the cobra, the python seemed to have been equally as unlucky, apparently having been bitten by its hooded foe.
“It’s crazy, but it’s something I could easily see happening… it’s a dangerous world out there, to eat other big snakes and things that could kill you,” said Coleman Sheehy of the Florida Museum of Natural History.
“It looks real, it doesn’t look photoshopped or anything,” said Frank Burbrink of the American Museum of Natural History. “This is a weird encounter, but a lot of stuff that happens with snakes is never easily seen.”
According to most experts, it was likely the cobra that attacked the python. King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world and have a reputation for being particularly vicious. They also have a reputation for eating other snakes.
The cobra likely attacked the python, biting the python behind the neck to subdue it. Before the poison could spread, the python likely attempted to defend itself by strangling the cobra. Ironically, in the end, both defensive efforts worked – but so did the attacks.
Though the attack was likely due to a natural instinct on the cobra’s part, it’s not clear if the python and the cobra met under natural circumstances.
“We know cobras will eat other snakes, but you never know if people are doing goofy stuff to set things up,” Burbrink said. “People keep king cobras, and—hey let’s see what happens when you put these guys in a little ditch. You can see there’s a berm on both sides [in the photo], and they might’ve gone at it, but it could have happened in the wild as well.”
Regardless of circumstance, scientists agree the show would have been a good one.
“I wish I were there to have seen it,” said Burbrink.