Enormous Python Swallows Even Bigger Impala in Horrifying Video

Footage from South Africa has shown the horrifying moment a python consumed the carcass of an impala on a game reserve.

The video, uploaded to YouTube on January 15, has clocked over 22,000 hits. It was taken at the Mala Mala Game Reserve, a private game reserve in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, south of Kruger National Park.

The video also features footage of lions interacting with rhinos in the area and is captioned with the words "An African rock python with an impala kill."

It shows the snake swallowing the dead impala whole, moving its body over the carcass slowly is it consumes the animal head-first.

As the footage continues, more of the impala disappears into the body of the snake as its jaws widen further to take in the wider parts of the carcass.

African rock pythons are the largest snakes found in Africa. They live in the grasslands of southern Africa and typically grow between 10 and 16 feet in length. Adult specimens can weigh 120 pounds, with reports of some growing even larger.

In the footage, onlookers can be heard describing what they are witnessing in fascination. "Their digestive enzymes must be very powerful," one said.

Pythons consume larger carcasses in this way owing to their particularly evolved jaws that, unlike mammals, are not connected in the skeleton but by ligaments that can stretch apart and greatly expand the area of the mouth.

As shown in the footage from the Mala Mala reserve, the snake's mandibles can consequently move independently as the snake "walks" up the body of a carcass it is consuming.

African rock pythons are known to consume a variety of animals in the savannah habitats of southern Africa where they are found. Kruger National Park lists antelope, guinea fowl, fish, monitor lizards and crocodiles as well as domesticated animals among their diet.

There are also existing accounts of the animals attacking and killing humans.

For example, a 1980 paper published in the Journal of Herpetology titled "A Fatal Attack on a Young Boy by an African Rock Python" described an attack in which an African rock python attacked and killed a boy in the Transvaal province of South Africa.

"The boy... was grabbed on the right calf by a large python that lay in the long grass by the side of the path... 20 minutes later the victim was completely entwined in the python."

Rock python
Stock image of an African rock python. The animals are the largest snakes found on the African continent and live in the grasslands of southern Africa. Getty Images