Judging by the interlocked combatants’ bodies, no quarter was given in the final minutes of this deadly struggle. Captured in a dramatic photo shared Feb. 1 to Imgur, a grim scene hints at a violent battle to the death between two giant snakes, a reticulated python (Python reticulatus, the longest and heaviest snake on Earth, reaching 23 feet (7 meters) in length and weighing as much as 165 lbs (75 kilograms)) and a king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah, the worlds longest venomous snake, whose bite packs enough neurotoxins to fell an Asian elephant), both native to Southeast Asia. But when these two formidable snakets squared off, neither survived the encounter.
The cobra’s jaws are locked onto the neck of the python, while the python’s diamond-patterned body is tightly coiled in snug loops around the cobra’s neck and upper body. The cobra’s lower body extends away from the muscular knot that binds the two snakes.
King cobras feed almost exclusively on other snakes. The python was most likely attempting to defend itself. All constrictor snakes use the same general strategy for constricting. They squeeze their prey, and each time the prey breathes out, they squeeze more, giving the prey less volume to breath back in. Eventually, the prey suffocates.
The dramatic picture appears to have been taken in a shallow ditch in an area where people live, most certainly in tropical Asia, the only place where King Cobras and reticulated pythons live in close proximity in the wild.
The King has met its match.