Photo in the News: Python Undergoes Golf Ball-ectomy

Photo of python snake that ate golf balls
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January 3, 2007—The pythons of the world appear to be waging a global campaign for a genus-wide Darwin Award.

First an undiscerning Everglades python literally busted a gut after eating an alligator in 2005. Then an Idaho pet swallowed a queen-size electric blanket the following year. Next a Malaysian snake ingested an indigestible pregnant sheep.

(Oddly enough, pythons seem to draw the line at Cambodian boys.)

Now an Australian carpet python has gorged itself on golf balls, as seen in this photo and x-ray released today.

A couple in New South Wales (see on map) had put the balls in their chicken coop to coax their hen to nest in a designated spot—a common practice. On finding the bumpy-bellied python where the balls should have been, the couple rushed the reptile to nearby Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Veterinarian Michael Pyne surgically removed the offending objects from the reptile's intestine, saving its life (and possibly dealing a blow against evolution).

Common in a variety of Australian habitats, carpet pythons are largely nocturnal and typically eat rats, bats, and birds. These nonvenomous snakes seize and squeeze, spearing their prey with curved teeth and constricting their victims. The snakes then open wide—sometimes really wide—and ingest their prey whole.

The species can grow to about 13 feet (4 meters). Our ball-eating friend, though, measures a scant 32 inches (81 centimeters)—but pound for pound, he eats like a horse.

—Ted Chamberlain

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