Watch a 70-Pound Python Queen Lay an Enormous Clutch of Eggs

Smithsonian Channel, YouTube
Smithsonian Channel, YouTube

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 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.

Therapy Puppy Provides Comfort to Grieving Families at North Carolina Funeral Home

AllenSphoto, iStock via Getty Images
AllenSphoto, iStock via Getty Images

Emotional support animals have become common sights at places like airports, and now the funeral industry is embracing their therapeutic benefits. As WGAL reports, Macon Funeral Home in North Carolina now has a Bernese mountain dog puppy to provide comfort to grieving clients.

Nine-week-old Mochi isn't a fully trained therapy dog yet, but she's already winning over visitors. Tori McKay, Macon's funeral office administrator, had dreamed of bringing a grief-support dog into the business for a decade. Shortly after her 30th birthday on January 4, she and her husband "decided that Mochi would make a wonderful addition to our family and this decade of our lives," she wrote on the funeral home's website.

McKay chose a Bernese mountain dog for the breed's affectionate personality, relaxed disposition, and successful history as an emotional support animal. Between ages 6 months to 1 year, Mochi will receive therapy dog training in Asheville. The plan is to eventually make her available to families upon request and bring her to nursing homes to meet with residents. Until then, the puppy is meeting guests in a more casual setting as she gets used to socializing with strangers.

"Stop by and meet her, she loves making new friends!" a post on the funeral home's Facebook page reads.

[h/t WGAL]

One of the World’s Most Dangerous Spiders Could Invade Homes after Australia's Recent Rainfall

Ian Waldie, Getty Images
Ian Waldie, Getty Images

While recent rainfall has been a welcome change in Australia after destructive bushfires caused a widespread crisis, it hasn’t come without an asterisk. According to the Australian Reptile Park, the wet and warm conditions have made Sydney funnel web spiders highly active—and the funnel web spider happens to be one of the most venomous arachnids on the planet.

In a video the park shared on Facebook, officials warn that the weather might cause a marked increase in the spiders' activity, as males cover territory in search of a mate. They might be found in shoes, in laundry, or in yards. Fortunately, Atrax robustus is easy to identify, with its shiny body providing a helpful visual cue to immediately begin walking in the other direction.

Male funnel webs are thought to have venom up to six times more dangerous than females and also tend to move around more, making human encounters with them more likely. Because they can’t climb smooth surfaces, funnel webs are also prone to burrowing in piled-up clothing or other hiding spaces, providing an unwelcome surprise for anyone looking to retrieve their discarded shirt or socks.

The funnel web is also aggressive, quick to attack when provoked, and packs a powerful enough bite to pierce shoes. After being bitten, pain, muscle spasms, and pulmonary edema follow. Victims should use a compression bandage and limb immobilization to compress surface tissue until they receive medical attention.

Though the species is believed to have caused 13 human deaths, there haven’t been any fatalities attributable to a funnel web bite since 1981. That’s due in large part to antivenom made from milked spiders, an advancement that saved the life of a 10-year-old boy, Matthew Mitchell, bitten by the spider in 2017. The spider was loitering in his shoe and bit him on the finger. After 12 vials of antivenom, Mitchell made a complete recovery.

The Australian Reptile Park is actually encouraging citizens to trap the spiders and bring them in to drop-off sites to aid in the antivenom production effort. They advise nudging the spider into a plastic or glass container with a spoon. Extreme caution should be exercised, but you knew that.

[h/t CNET]