A new generation of Indian rock pythons is ready to emerge. The mother has protected her clutch for months, but now hunger drives her away. The little snakes are on their own and hungry eyes are already watching.
This is an Indian rock python.
One of the largest land predators in Sri Lanka. Like constrictor, snakes in general, this python is an excellent ambush predator. Its body is perfectly camouflaged to blend with the soil. Having brown skin with darker blotches on it makes the python almost invisible among the leaf litter.
In short, it’s perfectly adapted for an ambush. All it has to do is wait until an opportunity to strike presents itself. Contrary to popular belief, pythons don’t crush their prey. Instead, they curl their body around it and squeeze so tight that the victim’s heart is unable to withstand the pressure and it dies of cardiac arrest.
But this female rock python has no time to hunt. She needs to protect her clutch. Hungry predators are never far away …
and this serpent eagle could cause trouble in the future. But for now, the eagle has no chance. The mother snake is too big a catch. Pythons care for their broods persistently and thoroughly.
The mother python coils herself around her leathery eggs, gently contracting her long, muscular body. This is how she regulates her clutches temperature for ideal egg development. She has laid 15 to 20 eggs, that will take about 70 days to finish hatching. During this time, she stays by her clutches side and cannot hunt – which means a long and exhausting fasting period for her.
But the need to feed gets steadily stronger. Finally, she sets out to see her ever-growing hunger. It will be two weeks in which she leaves her eggs without protection. The sharp eyes of the serpent eagle focus on the nesting site again, waiting for the moment when the baby snakes leave the safety of their shells.
It needs to be patient: The elasticity of these shells make it difficult for the pythons to break free. Baby pythons have a special egg tooth that allows them to slice through the leathery eggshell. Then they need to squeeze through the cut. An exhausting task.
Once arrested, they disperse into the jungle, A movement that alerts the hungry eyes of the eagle. The freshly hatched pythons are already around half a meter long. A delicious meal for the bird. Reptiles are its favorite.
The snakes take cover under leaf litter and vegetation, relying on their natural camouflage for the first time. They try to squeeze themselves under logs and into tight crevices where the eagles talons can’t reach. Still, the bird’s sharp gaze glides over the forest. Not even the tiniest movement escapes its notice.
Uncovered! And caught! This young python has fallen prey to the raptor. For today, the eagle is sated. The other siblings have been lucky. But life in the jungle will remain dangerous until these little pythons grow big enough to become predators themselves.
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