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How Strong Are Pythons? [All facts explained]

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Pythons are one of the longest snakes in the world, incredibly popular among enthusiasts and snake owners alike. They originate primarily in Africa, Asia, and Australia, and come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours. Though their size can vary greatly depending on species, it has been known for some species to take down entire antelopes. 

What’s even more impressive is that pythons don’t rely on poison; instead, they wrap themselves around their prey and squish them until they cease breathing. 

While this may sound like it must take quite a lot of power to do, pythons are actually only able to constrict with a force of 7.8 PSI depending on how large they are – which honestly isn’t a whole lot when compared to the human grip or other snake constrictors. However, the technique is highly effective – by stopping blood flow to the brain their opponent quickly succumbs. 

Pythons Are A Whole Scientific Family

Picking out a python among its 33 species isn’t easy! It is worth noting that pythons and boa constrictors are closely related snakes, though pythons are mostly found in the ‘Old World’ – Africa, Asia, and Australia. 

Boas have a greater range – they can be found across the Americas too. Out of all these snake species, the reticulated python stands apart. These pythons are some of the longest snakes around with lengths ranging from 3 to 4.78 meters on average. 

And size isn’t the only thing that makes reticulated pythons remarkable, as the largest one ever recorded reached an astonishing 348 pounds and was 25 feet long! 

How Strong Are Pythons?

In a 2015 study concerning the constricting strength of reticulated pythons, the researchers were surprised to uncover that the pythons had peak constricting pressure of up to 53.77 kPa, or 7.8 psi. However, their strength may be even more powerful in a non-lab environment. 

Unfortunately for these snakes, their grip strength pales in comparison to that of an average human hand; studies have found that people aged between 20 and 24 are able to squeeze with at least 60 pounds of pressure per square inch. 

Nevertheless, reticulated pythons remain one of the strongest types of snake species in terms of constricting power when compared to the likes of anacondas or king snakes; these two are usually much heavier than pythons despite having shorter bodies. As such, they typically possess greater amounts of constricting power due to their denser mass.

An anaconda is typically bulkier than a python, with a length of around 17 feet and weighing in at approximately 250 lbs. Comparatively, while pythons may reach lengths slightly longer than an anaconda at 24 feet; they’re not nearly as heavy and often weigh less than half their larger counterpart.

How Strong Are Pythons

Pythons Bite, Then Squeeze

It is no surprise that little research has been done into the strength of a python’s bite; after all, their power is largely determined by size. In 2014, however, a 13-foot reticulated python was observed and required a screwdriver to pry open its jaws. 

Although human cases are rare, with only 1-2 reported annually, a python bite can serve multiple purposes. When threatened or in defence of its territory, a python will strike as a warning before releasing; this disorienting tactic is also used against prey in order to immobilize them for constriction. 

Once embedded within its backwards-facing teeth and gripped tightly in coils of muscle, the snake holds firmly while beginning the process of suffocating their meal.

Pythons have quite an efficient way of killing their prey – by looping their long bodies around and squeezing them until they die. It was once assumed that the animals perished from suffocation, but more recent studies suggest otherwise. 

A study conducted in 2015 determined that the majority of kills (91%) in a group of rats were caused by cardiac arrest, due to the lack of circulation to their brains as a result of being squeezed. 

The same could apply to humans; if one were ever caught up in the coils of a python, it would be difficult to escape its grip and powerful squeezing force. It appears that pythons can kill with extreme efficiency in some cases; under optimal conditions and fully entangled within the grasp of a python, death could occur within minutes.

FAQs

How strong are python muscles?

Snakes, such as the reticulated python, can squeeze with 7.8 pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI), far more than their smaller counterparts such as a ball python, which can only manage 4.0 PSI. 

Which animal can defeat a python?

Pythons may look large and powerful but they still have predators just like any other animal. Unfortunately, even small and young pythons face the risk of being attacked and eaten by various animals such as wild dogs, hyenas, frogs or even other snakes. Additionally, some birds, insects and spiders can also become a python’s predator under certain circumstances.

How strong is a snake squeeze?

King snakes have an impressive capability that few other creatures can boast of: they can squeeze with up to 180 mm Hg of pressure, an amount staggeringly higher than the upper end of human blood pressure at 120 mm Hg. The significance of this strength is highlighted by Chip Penning, who states that if a person were to experience this pressure on their body, it would be enough to disrupt heart function and stop its ability to pump blood. 

Can a python crush a human?

With an impressive length of over 10 metres, they are an intimidating sight to behold. But it isn’t their size that makes them so effective – rather it is their ability to launch sudden lethal ambushes. By swiftly circling around their quarry and compressing with each exhalation, prey rarely stands a chance in this battle of strength and stealth. 

Final Words

Constrictor snakes are an amazing species: they use remarkable muscular strength to choke the life out of their prey. To do this, a snake must be able to squeeze at least as tight as is required to cut off the blood supply to its intended meal’s brain. 

Thus a variety of strengths (and sizes) is necessary! Many kinds of such constricting predators can be found in the python family, with species ranging widely in length from just two feet up to nearly 30 feet long. 

The reticulated python is by far the longest snake species on the planet, reaching lengths of up to 10 meters (33 ft). It is also one of the strongest python species, but its grip is not as strong as other constrictors like the anaconda. 

Even a typical human grip strength exceeds that of the strongest python, leaving pythons able to only kill prey up to the size of an antelope. Although rare occurrences have been reported of larger snakes such as pythons attacking and swallowing humans in certain situations.

Reference:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now

https://www.coa.edu/live/news/1408-pythons-can-kill-a-human-in-minutes-and-swallow

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39427462

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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