01/03/2024

King cobra at Sungei Buloh ᴅᴇᴠᴏᴜʀs python whole in just 45 minutes

A rare and extraordinary sight of two large snakes – one ᴄᴏɴsᴜᴍɪɴɢ the other, was discovered at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore.

On the evening of June 22, 2021, nature photographer, Jimmy Wong, who happened to be around the area, managed to capture the breathtaking sight of a king cobra gobbling up its ᴘʀᴇʏ, a reticulated python.

Upon spotting the snake, he followed it to the main hide in the nature reserve, where he then saw a ᴅᴇᴀᴅ python on the ground. Speaking to other photographers, he discovered that the python had been “left there to ᴅɪᴇ” after an earlier run-in with the cobra, and the venomous snake was returning to retrieve its ᴘʀᴇʏ.

At this point, the king cobra swam out of its hiding spot and rapidly approached the monitor. When they were about 3 m apart, both monitor and king cobra exhibited what appeared to be ᴀɴᴛᴀɢᴏɴɪsᴛɪᴄ behaviour towards each other. The king cobra raised its head slightly while the monitor elevated its body and ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ to lash its tail. Shortly after, the monitor began to move away from the area, while the king cobra proceeded to further scout the surrounding area.

At 1745 hrs, the king cobra approached the apparently ᴅᴇᴀᴅ python and began to consume it, starting with the python’s head. By 1825 hrs, the ᴘʏᴛʜᴏɴ was completely sᴡᴀʟʟᴏᴡᴇᴅ. The process of ingestion took approximately 45 minutes. Thereafter, the king cobra moved slowly away into a patch of mangroves nearby, and ᴅɪsᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴇᴅ from the observers’ view.

The reticulated python is the longest snake in the world, and can reach lengths of up to 10m long. This is larger than even the king cobra, which can grow up to 5.4m. In this case, it appears that the python was outwitted despite its size.

In a series of photos posted on Facebook, Wong did an excellent job capturing the entire process. Wong described the encounter as a “once in a lifetime experience”. While reticulated pythons are one of the more common snakes people in Singapore can spot, king cobras, on the other hand, are more uncommon.

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