How to Survive a Python Attack (Here’s What You Need to Do)

how to survive a python attack
Image Credit: Diego Madrigal

Pythons are quite frequently portrayed in movies as the scary monster, and for a good reason! They could kill and eat a human whole. Fortunately for us humans, they aren’t as interested in us as they are birds, squirrels, pigs, and antelope.

However, if you find yourself wandering around the Florida Everglades or the rainforests of Asia, Africa, or Australia, this article may be for you. Surviving a python attack is possible since they are nonvenomous snakes, but it will take some knowledge to do so.

Pythons kill their prey by wrapping themselves so tightly around your neck that it suffocates you. You can only survive constriction by calling for help while you protect your neck from constriction. You can do this by using your arms to block your neck, which will, in turn, give you a longer time to call out for help.

Before a python constricts you, it will first ambush you with a bite. They are not venomous so it’s not over just yet. This is the time that you should run and avoid getting caught in the snake’s constriction. If you are unable to get away, it will proceed to wrap around you when you are hurt from the bite. At this point, you must at least try to protect your neck and call for help.

A Background Lesson On Pythons

You have heard of a boa constrictor and a python, but what is the difference between a python and a boa? Well, there are a few anatomical things, like pythons lay eggs, and boas give birth to live young. Pythons bear teeth, whereas boas do not. Both species are nonvenomous, so they kill their prey by squeezing to death. In the end, they’re quite similar in terms of the method to kill a human: constriction.

What about pythons specifically? Well, there are 41 different kinds of pythons, ranging from kind of small to insanely huge. The smallest of the pythons is only about 24 inches long. On the other end of the spectrum, pythons can be some of the largest snakes in the world. Pythons can grow over 30 feet in length (that’s about as long as an American school bus)! A reticulated python, a type of python, is known as the longest snake in the world.

The prey that pythons eat depends on their body size. Larger pythons have been known to hunt large animals, such as crocodiles, monkeys, antelope, pigs, and even leopards. Smaller pythons will prey on rodents, birds, fish, chickens and lizards. Regardless of the size of the python, most tend to not be interested in humans, but it is always possible.

Pythons are typically only found in warm, wet climates, like rainforests, usually in Asia, Africa, or Australia. Pythons have also been found in the Americas, such as the Everglades in Florida. There is actually a python overpopulation issue in the Everglades where thousands of pythons are invading the Everglades and wiping out the wildlife there. Finally, you can always find pythons at the zoo where you will have no worries of attack (I hope)!

How Do They Kill?

It only takes about three minutes for a python to kill you, then maybe another hour to swallow your corpse. Pythons are nonvenomous ambush predators. In other words, they will hide until you are close enough for them to strike with their teeth. Once they have grabbed you with their teeth, they will kill you by squeezing you to death, starting with your neck. With each exhale you make, they will squeeze you tighter until you can no longer breathe. Pythons always start with the jugular because this is the weakest part of your body. Once it has tightened itself around your neck for long enough, you will suffocate. After you die, the snake will then swallow you whole! Sounds like a fun afternoon to me.

Keep in mind, a python’s initial reaction to a human walking by is to hide. A human is usually too large to swallow because of the way our shoulder blades are structured, making it impossible to collapse. Pythons hardly ever attack humans, and if they do, it’s likely to be a child or smaller person. There are not many recorded python attacks on humans, but there aren’t zero.

History of Python Attacks On Humans

In 2017, a 25-year-old palm oil farmer named Akbar Salubiro was swallowed whole by a 23-foot reticulated python. A reticulated python is a type of python species native to South and Southeast Asia. A reticulated python is known to be the longest snake in the world. Akbar resided on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, where python attacks are not unheard of.

The story about Akbar’s unfortunate goes as follows. On March 25, 2017, Akbar went missing after leaving his home to harvest for his farm in the palm grove. After his disappearance, a search party was sent out to no avail. Later that same day, the murderous snake actually slithered into Akbar’s backyard. Nearby residents noticed a giant snake with a large stomach and were suspicious. The residents of the area proceeded to kill the snake and cut open its belly. To their horror, they found Akbar dead inside. The residents also stated that they had heard cries out in the palm grove the night before Akbar was found. When they cut open the snake, Akbar still had his boots intact inside the snake.

Another palm oil farmer from Sumatra, Indonesia, with a less gruesome outcome than Akbar, survived a python attack in 2016. He allegedly fought off a 25.5-foot-long python who attacked him in a palm grove, just like Akbar’s case. The snake bit him first and unlike Akbar, this man was fortunate enough to get away, but with serious injuries.

How to Survive a Python Attack

The most straightforward answer to this is to not get attacked in the first place. Remember that whenever you are in the Everglades or in another warm, damp climate in the Americas, Asia, Africa, or Australia, a python could be lurking in the water or a bush waiting to ambush you. Luckily, pythons are not venomous, so even if they do bite you, it is not game over. You still have time to run before they start constricting.

If you are unable to escape after the bite, you must be ready for an intense amount of pressure from the snake. We are talking bone-crushing pressure. It will quite literally squeeze you to death. It will begin to wrap itself around you, but before it does this, put up your arms to protect your neck. While you are holding your arms around your neck to allow yourself to breathe, you should call for help. Having assistance here is your best chance of survival after constriction begins.


In summary, if you ever find yourself in a situation with a python. Run away. That’s the best advice you can take away from this. Your next best option: protect your neck long enough to survive the constriction and call for help. But don’t stress too much about potential snake attacks, because the chance of dying from a snake attack in the United States is practically zero.


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