This is What Happens When a Python Tries to Eat a Porcupine

Jean-Claude Chanu was biking through South Africa’s Lake Eland Game Reserve on June 16 when he came across an unforgettable sight: A nearly 13-foot-long African Rock Python, its body swollen by whatever it had just eaten. “Seeing a snake of that size up close, eating whatever it was eating, was surreal,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.” When snakes find large enough prey, they can survive for months without eating again; officials at the game reserve wrote on their Facebook page that the animal “must have swallowed a small warthog or an impala calf!”  

But this meal, the snake's last, was not something as mundane as an impala. After the snake was found dead on June 21, an autopsy revealed that it had attempted to eat a 30-pound porcupine. The animal’s quills were lodged in the snake’s digestive tract. 

Python sebae

 is Africa’s largest snake. The animals can grow to be 20 feet long, and they're exceptionally aggressive. Kenneth Krysko, senior herpetologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told National Geographic in 2009 that the snakes “come out of the egg striking.” The species has even been known to kill people: One rock python strangled two sleeping boys in Canada in 2013, and there are verified reports of the animals killing people in the wild.

This isn’t the first time a species of python has died after biting off more than it could swallow: A Burmese python in the Everglades burst after attempting to eat an alligator.

Why Cats Like to Shove Their Butts in Your Face, According to an Animal Behavior Expert

This cat might be happier showing off its butt.
This cat might be happier showing off its butt.
Okssi68/iStock via Getty Images

Cats are full of eccentric behaviors. They hate getting wet. Their tongues sometimes get stuck midway out of their mouths, known as a “blep.” And they’re really happy hanging out in bodegas.

Some of these traits can be explained while others are more mysterious. Case in point: when they stick their rear end in your face for no apparent reason.

Are cats doing this just to humiliate their hapless caregivers? What would possess a cat to greet a person with its butt? Why subject the person who gives you food and shelter to such degradation?

To find out, Inverse spoke with Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. According to Delgado, cats don’t necessarily perceive their rectal flaunting as anything aggressive or domineering. In fact, it might be a cat’s way of saying hello.

“For cats, it’s normal for them to sniff each other’s butts as a way to say hello or confirm another cat’s identity,” Delgado said. “It’s hard for us to relate to, but for them, smell is much more important to cats and how they recognize each other than vision is. So cats may be ‘inviting’ us to check them out, or just giving us a friendly hello.”

For a cat, presenting or inspecting a butt is a kind of fingerprint scan. It’s a biological measure of security.

Other experts agree with this assessment, explaining that cats use their rear end to express friendliness or affection. Raising their tail so you can take a whiff is a sign of trust. If they keep their tail down, it’s possible they might be feeling a little shy.

If you think this situation is eased by the fact you rarely hear cats fart, we have bad news. They do. Because they don’t often gulp air while eating, they just don’t have enough air in their digestive tract to make an audible noise. Rest assured that, statistically speaking, there will be times a cat giving you a friendly greeting is also stealthily farting in your face.

[h/t Inverse]

New York City Falcon Cam Reveals Nest With Four Eggs

BrianEKushner, iStock via Getty Images
BrianEKushner, iStock via Getty Images

The urban jungle of New York City supports a vibrant wildlife population. One animal that calls the city home is the peregrine falcon, once an endangered species, that has been seen around downtown Manhattan for decades. Recently, a livestream of the falcons of 55 Water Street revealed that one of them is about to be a mom.

The camera on top of the skyscraper at 55 Water Street peers into a falcon nesting site, and a female peregrine falcon there has been displaying incubating behaviors since at least late March, according to the Downtown Alliance's blog. It was assumed she had laid eggs, though this wasn't confirmed until she flew away from her nest on the afternoon of March 31. Her absence left four eggs in clear view of the building's bird camera.

It also created some concern among viewers. When female falcons leave the nest to hunt, the father usually takes over incubating duties—something that didn't happen in this case. Fortunately, the mother wasn't gone long enough to put her eggs in any real danger. She returned later that afternoon, and is currently nesting right where the internet can see her.

Peregrine falcon eggs need to be incubated for about 33 days, so expect to see them hatch sometime within the next month. In the meantime, here are some more animal livestreams to check out.