A five-year-old boy is recovering after surviving an attack by a giant python in the garden of his grandparents’ house in Byron Bay, a seaside town in New South Wales. As Guardian reports, little Beau was swimming with his brother, when a snake about 3 meters long came out of the nearby garden and latched onto his ankle: “We were sitting watching them swim, we were about to dive into the pool and suddenly: bang – said the father Ben Blake -. It was as if a black shadow had come out of the bush.”
The man can’t say for sure whether his son accidentally stepped on the animal or scared it by getting too close, but once the reptile latched on, Beau rolled and fell into the pool. The snake then quickly wrapped itself around his legs. At that point, his grandfather Allan, 76, immediately jumped into the water and pulled him out.
“We both jumped up and ran to his aid” explains Mr. Blake who then took about 15-20 seconds to free him from the grip of the snake. The father said his son was a “real soldier” after this experience, but reported no health problems.
Happy ending also for the python, who emerged unharmed from the encounter: Blake said he held it in his hand for about 10 minutes after releasing his son, before releasing him into the garden. “My father has lived there for 36 years and we have seen maybe ten snakes in all on the property – he said -. This is the season of the snakes, they are around and due to the climate that has developed in the last period they are very mobile”. In recent months, Australia has been increasingly subject to extreme climatic events, including absolutely out of scale heat which has caused desert areas to expand and cause numerous and extensive fires, the first victims of which have been animals, both those killed directly by flames than those they have seen restrict their natural habitat.
Beau’s mother Tesse Ferguson shared details of the “dramatic evening” on social media, warning other parents to “keep an eye out”. “We were lucky to have Ben and Allan’s quick response…and it took quite a bit of effort to get the python out that was tightly wrapped around her leg,” she said. “Tonight my boys are going to get a lot of cuddles. The unthinkable can happen to parents!”.
Attacks by pythons towards humans are not very frequent, but when they do occur they can be particularly dangerous: they are generally not poisonous to bite, but their large size combined with great muscular strength allow them to hunt by squeezing their preys in a bite and often devouring them whole.
Pythons use their sharp, backward-curving teeth, four rows in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw, to grasp prey which is then killed by constriction, causing cardiac arrest. After catching the animal, the python quickly coils in a series of coils around it.
The largest specimens, which in some species can even reach 9 meters, usually eat animals the size of a domestic cat, but there are also known cases of attacks on larger preys: some Asian species have shot down adult deer and it has been documented that the African rock python (Python sebae) ate antelopes. In 2017, a case of a man being eaten by a python was recorded in Sulawesi, Indonesia. All prey is swallowed whole and can take days or even weeks to digest.