A recent report in PNAS claims that reticulate pythons regularly prey on the Agta people of the Philippines. In The Book of Deadly Animals, I told of constricting snakes attacking and even killing people, but I questioned whether that actually happens in the wild. I also questioned whether snakes actually prey on people; in all the captive attacks I was able to discover, death was not followed by consumption. These scientists believe they have proof of both wild attacks and predation. (Thanks to Chuck and Croconut for the news tips.)
Today's news is full of pythons. First, new documentation that escaped constrictors (mostly Burmese pythons) are having an impact on the Everglades ecosystem:
BBC News - Pythons linked to Florida Everglades mammal decline:
"They found that observations of raccoons and opossums had dropped by about 99%. There had been a 94.1% fall in observations of white-tailed deer and an 87.5% decrease in sightings of bobcats.
No rabbits or foxes were seen during the more recent survey; rabbits were among the most common mammals in the roadkill survey between 1993 and 1999.
The majority of these species have been documented in the diet of pythons found in the Everglades National Park. Indeed, raccoons and oppossums often forage at the water's edge, where they are vulnerable to ambush by pythons."
Meanwhile, in Uganda, wildlife authorities and police teamed up to capture pythons suspected of being used in witchcraft ceremonies. I haven't encountered such credulity since my last visit to West Memphis. Investigators found no pythons, though they did bag three rats.