Long story short, two brothers were having a sleepover at their friend’s house, which is located above a reptile store. Apparently a python got loose, slithered through the ventilation system, crashed through the ceiling and strangled BOTH kids in their sleep.
I don’t know about you guys but something smells fishy to me. Why was there no sound? Nobody heard a 45kg snake crash through a ceiling? How did it manage to kill BOTH kids without one waking up and yelling or something? Snakes don’t just randomly kill things. They kill things to eat them. Why would a snake try to take down not one, but TWO things the size of a 5 and 7 year old?
I really hope that this gets fully investigated and that everyone doesn’t jump to one conclusion. Because it simply doesn’t add up.
It didn’t crash through the ceiling. It dropped from the ceiling. There was probably a ventilation duct in the ceiling, which the snake crawled through. It could easily drop onto a bed without making much noise at all, and then strangle one of the boys without him waking up, or even if he did wake up, without him being able to scream or make any noise to alert the second boy.
They are doing autopsies on the boys, so if the story is not as presented, they should be able to find out.
Snakes are very good at stealthy attacks, and little kids can sleep soundly. The snake probably wasn’t hungry, just an instinctive reaction. There have been other cases of one child being killed, or nearly killed by a large constrictor, I don’t recall an incident involving two children, but it doesn’t sound surprising.
I agree with the doubters, although I have no doubt that a rock python could kill and probably swallow a child. I have had a few pythons over the years, and from what I have seen their constricting to kill instinct is totally tied to their biting and eating instinct. I have never seen a python constrict to kill without it first striking, biting and holding on with its mouth. I have rarely seen a python crawl away from something it killed without trying to swallow it, and by rarely I mean 2 or 3 times out of several hundred observations. If these kids were killed by the python, there should be teeth marks and other signs that the snake was trying to eat. They will also have died of a form of suffocation that would be really hard for a person to inflict.
Hard to think that the pet store below and the apartment above shared a ventilation system. I assume a ventilation system would be ductwork connected to a furnace?
Also hard to imagine a ventilation system that doesn’t have secured grates over either end.
I’m with **Crotalus **on this. Constriction is for food gathering, not aggression or defense.
Snakes are carnivores and must capture live, unwilling prey. Their teeth are pointed and sharp for holding on but not specialized for shearing. Thus snakes cannot bite off chunks of flesh; prey must be swallowed whole. Most snakes will actively avoid attempting to overpower objects too large to be swallowed, since the attempt is dangerous for the snake and unlikely to produce any positive benefit. And there’s that whole “no arms” problem. So constriction is simply a way for an animal without arms or hands, which must swallow prey whole, to immobilize food items so they cannot escape and will not resist being swallowed. Prey is grasped using the mouth, then engulfed in coils. Constriction prevents inspiration but not exhalation, thus the prey dies from suffocation. Then the snake swallows the prey, typically head first (since limbs fold away in that orientation).
It makes little sense that such a snake would have killed two prey objects and not bothered to attempt to ingest either of them. But as **Crotalus **said, there should be bite marks easily in evidence if the snake was indeed the culprit.
Media lately, especially here in Florida, has been painting African Rock Pythons as ferocious, incredibly dangerous beasts now “taking over the Everglades”. But in truth, while they are capable of growing quite large, and are less placid and more difficult to handle in captivity than some other large constrictors, they surely aren’t implacable monsters.
A snake that size, attacking prey the size of 5 year old is not going to be fast or quiet. The snake would have pulled the child around some distance to be able to wrap firmly around the chest, and even then, prey generally has several minutes to struggle. Really, even if a kid was a heavy sleeper, that’s a big thing to not notice in the same room, and it should make enough noise to be heard in other rooms.
Snakes rarely even move if they’re not hungry- maybe to find a hiding place, but that’s about it. Travelling through the vents, killing two children, but not attempting to eat either of them, and then being docile enough to be caught by one person afterwards? Makes no sense.
I have never heard of a constricting snake attacking something it didn’t want to eat- captive snakes have been known to ignore rats sitting on them, even when bitten by the rats, when the snake isn’t hungry. Their defence is to scarper or bite, not constrict- that’s purely for feeding.
Speaking as someone brought up around snakes, even if not snakes that size, my BS meter is pinging away merrily.
This snake was making an escape, probably after being caged in an environment he didn’t like for years. Entering the room he could have gone after one child, then the other awoke and he killed that one also. I guess it would be surprising if he didn’t attempt to eat one of them, but the details are scant. It must be easy to tell if a child has been suffocated by a snake as opposed to some human action, and I assume they found the snake there, which would be a pretty good indication of the cause of death. Obviouly different information may be forthcoming.
As another long time snake owner my BS meter is chiming too. The one way I could imagine it happening as reported is if it first killed one child (without that one being able to scream or draw attention), found it too big to swallow, abandoned child one and moved on to the second.
I have attempted to feed my snakes rats that proved to be too big to swallow and they worked for quite a long time before giving up and left a considerable amount of saliva. They should be able to tell if there was attempted swallowing.