Squeeze is a 13-foot, 70-pound female African rock python who strikes faster than the blink of an eye and can coil around a deer until it dies of a heart attack. As a mother, she’s just as fierce. In a new hour-long program called Queen of the Pythons, Smithsonian Channel follows Squeeze through the South African savannah on her journey to maternal bliss, which includes the mesmerizing footage below of her laying a colossal clutch of eggs.
Don’t be fooled by the ordinary appearance of the eggs: Each weighs about as much as a billiard ball, and she’s been carting around almost 50 of them for weeks while she searches for the perfect place to lay them. As the video's narrator explains, she finally slithers into a hollow beneath an old silver oak tree, which will not only shelter her family from bad weather, but also keep the eggs’ temperature consistent and conceal them from potential predators like monitor lizards and mongooses.
As Geek.com reports, Squeeze usually has to contend with interference from nearby humans and the ever-present threat of habitat loss. But everything stops for 90 days while she’s hidden in the hollow, tightly coiled around her unborn offspring; she’ll only leave sparingly for a drink of water or brief soak in the sun, which will help her warm the eggs.
“For an animal capable of such massive displays of power,” the narrator observes, “she can be surprisingly maternal.” And, in fact, she’s one of only a few species of snakes that are maternal at all. Most snakes tend to lay their eggs and leave them to the mercy of Mother Nature.
To find out what happens next, tune in to Queen of the Pythons tonight at 8 p.m. ET on the Smithsonian Channel.