Discover 10 Enormous Snakes: A Look into the World’s Largest Species
With exquisitely patterned bodies, predatory strikes with fast acceleration, and even the ability to “jump” are an impressive group of reptiles, some of which deserve attention if only because of their huge size.
So what are the dimensions of the largest snakes in the world? What are the largest extinct snakes in history?
Measuring size can be tricky, especially when it comes to long-extinct species. Historical records can be difficult to verify, and snake skins can stretch without visible distortion, leading to inflated estimates, said Patrick Campbell, senior curator of the reptile collection at the Natural History Museum in London.
However, he said that “there are quite a few documented records” of giant snakes from around the world. Below is a sample of these huge snakes.
Here is a descending list of the largest, heaviest, and longest snakes in the world, from the smallest of the giant snakes to the largest of them all, the Tyrannosaurus Rex-sized giant.
Central African rock python (up to 16.5 feet)
According to the Oregon Zoo, the Central African rock python (Python sebae) is the largest snake in Africa. It is highly adaptable and is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, where it is equally distributed in savannas, forests and deserts.
The average length of these snakes is 9.8 to 16.5 feet (3 to 5 meters), according to the Animal Diversity (ADW) website.
Like Burmese pythons, Central African rock pythons can eat large prey including antelope and crocodiles. Sometimes even humans are on the list: there are many reports of African rock vipers attacking humans and even partially eating them.
These snakes are able to swallow such large prey due to a set of highly flexible jaws, which is common with many other snake species.
– King cobra (18.7 feet)
The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is a threat – and not just because its bite is strong enough to kill an elephant. According to the Smithsonian National Institute of Animal Biology and Conservation, it is native to Asia and can reach over 5 meters in height. According to the Guinness World Records, the longest king cobra ever recorded was an 18.7-foot (5.71 meter) long snake at the London Zoo in the late 1930s. He was killed at the start of World War II to prevent his escape to the city if the zoo was bombed.
Venomous snakes usually don’t grow into giants. Their ability to immobilize prey with a single bite means they don’t usually need to rely on size or strength to feed, Campbell says. However, the king cobra is “an exception to the rule,” he said, making it the longest venomous snake on earth.
Burmese python (18.8 ft)
Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are one of 41 snake species worldwide. Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia and start life in trees, but as adults their size forces them to descend to the ground. According to the Guinness World Records, the largest recorded Burmese python was a captive python named Baby, which measured 18.8 feet (5.74 meters) in length.
In the wild, these snakes typically reach over 16 feet (4.9 m) in length – large enough to prey on alligators.
The largest Burmese python was discovered in Florida, where it is considered an invasive species, in 2022. It weighed 215 pounds (97.5 kg) and was 17.7 feet (5.4 m) long.
Cuban viper (up to 19.6 feet)
Endemic to Cuba, these rainbow vipers are the largest snakes in the Caribbean, according to the Lake District Wildlife Park.
They weigh over 66 pounds (30 kg) and reach a length of 18.5 feet (5.65 meters), according to researchers who have published about them in the Journal of Reptiles and Amphibians – some reports claim they can grow to over 19. 6 feet (19.6 feet). 6 m).
Indian python (up to 21 feet)
According to the ADW, these snakes can reach 20.9 feet (6.4 m) in length and weigh almost 220 pounds (100 kg).
Their habitat is in the forests of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal and they are close relatives of Burmese snakes and like Burmese snakes they have structures called “heat pits” on their snouts which are provided with a sensitive membrane that can detect infrared radiation emitted by heat – animals with a body up to 3.2 feet (1 meter) high, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Nature. This adaptation helps camouflaged night-hunting reptiles to guide their prey.
– Reticulated Python (32.8 ft)
The reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus), adorned with the pattern of repeating diamond shapes that gives it its name, is widely known today as the longest snake on earth. One report from 1912 claims that the length of the captured python was 32.8 feet (10 meters), although this figure is difficult to verify.
According to the Natural History Museum of Great Britain, reticulated pythons typically reach over 20.5 feet (6.25 meters). According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest reticulated python in captivity is 25.2 feet (7.7 meters) long.
Its size, along with its temperamental nature, has sometimes proved fatal to humans: in one incident in 2018 in Indonesia, a fully clothed woman was found in a snake’s bloated belly.
Green anaconda (up to 33 feet long)
The green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) stalks silently through swamps and streams of the Amazon, where it can live long enough to reach 30 feet (9 meters).
Given historical records, they are probably not as long as reticulated pythons. However, according to the Smithsonian National Institute for Animal Biology and Conservation, the green anaconda is the heaviest snake species on Earth today, with some weighing up to 550 pounds (250 kg). And huge snakes use this massive size to suffocate their prey to capybaras, caimans and deer.
There is no official record of the largest green anaconda, but in 2016 builders in Brazil came across a snake that was estimated to be 33 feet (10 meters) long and weighed 880 pounds (399 kg).
– Gigantophis Garstini (up to 32 feet)
While modern snakes can reach incredible sizes, prehistoric snakes break most of these current records. Gigantophis garstini, for example, was a massive beast that slithered onto an object about 40 million years ago that researchers estimate is 23 to 32 feet (7 to 10 meters) long, according to the PLOS blog.
It was discovered in Egypt in 1901 and was able to wrap its prey with its wide anatomy, like the early ancestors of the elephant, and eat it whole.
The researchers found that Gigantophis was related to another extinct giant species called Madtsoia, whose fossils were found in India, indicating that the terror of giant snakes has spread to parts of Asia as well. And for nearly 100 years after its discovery, Gigantophis garstini held the title of the world’s largest snake — until larger specimens slipped into the picture.
– Paleophis colossae (39 feet)
Giant snakes lived not only on land: Palaeophis colossaeus also lived in the prehistoric seas of the Earth. This sea serpent crossed the ancient ocean that once lay over North Africa 100 million years ago. And when its fossilized skeleton was discovered in the present-day desert, researchers calculated from specimens collected later on field trips in 1999 and 2003 that the species could reach over 39 feet (12 meters), according to a study published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica. Polonika. This makes it the longest sea snake ever found and one of the longest snakes known.
The snake’s head was never found, but researchers determined from its skeleton that the giant creature’s mouth was large enough to eat small whales whole.
– Titanoboa cerrejonensis (42.7 ft)
It weighs 1.25 tons (1.13 metric tons) and is not a fictional beast, but a real creature that has spread through the rainforests and rivers of South America. Titanoboa was the largest snake ever known.
This snake exists 60 million years ago and was the prehistoric ancestor of the anaconda and boa constrictor in the modern region. Its 250 vertebrae formed a massive 13-meter frame that fed on crocodiles and river fish. According to Indiana University, he weighed 2,500 pounds (1,130 kg).
Its fossil remains were discovered in the early 2000s in the rocks of the Ceregon Formation, the geological landscape of Colombia. Since then, his record weight and height have remained unbeaten, but perhaps there are still other giants hiding out there.
“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of another snake as big or large as Titanoboa. We haven’t found her yet,” Campbell said.
Source: Living Science
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