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Why Did a 23-Foot Long Snake Eat the Indonesian Man? Experts Say Python Behavior was Unusual

Apr 01, 2017 07:52 AM EDT

Earlier this week, a farmer in Sulawesi, Indonesia was found dead inside a giant serpent's stomach.

Akbar Salubiro reportedly went missing Sunday after he went out to harvest palm oil. The following day, the villagers found a python with a body outlined with a shape of a man. The villagers confirmed it was Akbar who was inside the 23-foot snake after it was cut open.

In an interview with a snake expert, local news reported that the 25-year-old farmer may have agitated the giant serpent by striking it first.

"Snakes only attack or prey on humans if disturbed or attacked... Some people think all snakes are dangerous. They get shocked and scared, then try to catch or kill the snake. And then an accident like this happens," Evi Ayu Arida, a reptile expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, told the local news site.

Speaking with Live Science, Jeff Beane, the reptile collections manager at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, said most snakes in the presence of humans will retreat to avoid conflict. Unless humans attempt to touch them or get closer to them, they will fight back in order to defend themselves.

BBC said the snake encountered by Akbar was a reticulated python, which usually wraps themselves around their prey and kill them by suffocation or cardiac arrest. It is unusual for them to eat their prey, especially a human, the report said.

"The restricting factor is human shoulder blades because they are not collapsible," said Mary-Ruth Low, conservation and research officer for Wildlife Reserves Singapore and a reticulated python expert.

Until this incident, there was no proof that snakes could ingest a whole human body. In 2005, a python in Florida attempted to ingest an entire alligator. They ended up both dead after the python exploded.

Rahmansyah, a lecturer at Hasanuddin University in Makassar, told the Jakarta Post that the incident involving Akbar could have been caused by deforestation, citing that because the snake's natural ecosystem has changed, it went as far as the palm oil plantation to seek for food.

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