15/04/2024

Crazy X-Ray Images Show Python Dɪɢᴇsᴛɪɴɢ An Alligator ᴡʜᴏʟᴇ – And It Only Took 7 Days

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when snakes ᴅɪɢᴇsᴛ their ᴘʀᴇʏ? As humans, we tend to ᴇᴀᴛ certain parts of animals… while snakes ᴇᴀᴛ and ᴅɪɢᴇsᴛ ᴡʜᴏʟᴇ animals.

Below are a series of X-Ray images that reveal just what happens when a Burmese ᴘʏᴛʜᴏɴ sᴡᴀʟʟᴏᴡs an ᴇɴᴛɪʀᴇ alligator.

The X-ray images, captured by biologists at the University of Alabama, show how the snake’s digestive system kicks into overdrive to quickly ʙʀᴇᴀᴋ ᴅᴏᴡɴ the crocodilian’s ʙᴏᴅʏ.

Burmese pythons are one of the five largest snakes in the world. Their ʙᴏᴅʏ’s response to eating such large ᴘʀᴇʏ is what makes them a model species for digestive physiology. After they ɪɴɢᴇsᴛ their ᴘʀᴇʏ, their digestive system goes into hyper-drive. Each meal triggers dramatic increases in metabolism, upregulation of tissue function and tissue growth. Their organs literally supersize themselves!

Professor Stephen Secor from the University of Alabama and his colleagues found that the snake’s ʜᴇᴀʀᴛ increases by 40 per cent while its ᴘᴀɴᴄʀᴇᴀs increases by 94 per cent and its liver more than doubles in size. The reptile’s ᴋɪᴅɴᴇʏ’s also increase in size by 72 per cent.

The python also floods its small intestine with powerful enzymes and acid, while its metabolic rate increases by up to forty times – depending on the meal. As the digestion goes on, the python has to contend with gases produced as the bacteria in the alligators gut cause it to putrefy, stretching its stomach further.

The images captured by Dr Secor and Dr Scott White reveal that within just three days the ʙᴏᴅʏ of the alligator has already begun to ʙʀᴇᴀᴋ ᴅᴏᴡɴ. By day four, most of the sᴏꜰᴛ ᴛɪssᴜᴇ and most of the ʙᴏɴᴇs have been ᴅɪɢᴇsᴛᴇᴅ leaving just the tough skin and skeleton which passes into the large intestine where it is ᴅɪɢᴇsᴛᴇᴅ further. Following six days almost the ᴡʜᴏʟᴇ 50 cm long alligator has been ʙʀᴏᴋᴇɴ ᴅᴏᴡɴ and by day seven the ᴇɴᴛɪʀᴇ meal has been digested.

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