Can a Python Eat a Human?

Although it is rare, there have been documented cases of pythons eating humans. The victims are typically children or otherwise small in stature, as the broad shoulders of adults are too large for most pythons to swallow.

Despite successful consumption being rare, predatory attacks on humans are more common. Owners of captive pythons are sometimes asphyxiated by their snakes if the snake escapes its enclosure or proper safety measures are not followed while feeding the snake. Pythons are opportunistic predators, according to National Geographic. This means they often attack animals that they cannot physically eat. Pythons usually only constrict if they intend to eat the animal they are strangling. For defense, they typically bite or flee.

Stories of adult humans being eaten by pythons are common, but most of these come from secondhand accounts and the truth cannot be verified. Doctored or misidentified photographs of pythons supposedly eating humans have periodically surfaced, but as of 2014, they have all been debunked. However, in 2002 an African rock python consumed a 10-year-old South African boy in front of witnesses, and several snakes have been interrupted by other humans as they try to swallow a person. In addition to the African rock python, reticulated pythons and Burmese pythons have also been implicated in fatal attacks on humans. Due to the danger these large snakes pose, experts recommend against keeping them as pets.