Episode 2 - Monster Python
The team venture into the swamps of the Florida Everglades in search of the giant Burmese Python. No-one knows for sure how snakes native to South East Asia ended up here, but theories include snake owners dumping pet pythons when they got too big and snakes escaping from reptile breeding centres in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Mark and Joy meet local ‘python hunters’ on the front line of the battle against these snakes. At a swamp camp in the heart of the Everglades they join reptile expert Jeanette Wyneken to dissect two pythons captured in the cull – a 9ft male and an enormous 14ft female.
The dissection reveals the anatomy that allows pythons to sense, strike and squeeze their prey before they swallow it whole. They investigate the remains of the snakes’ last meals and make an amazing discovery in the female – ovaries bulging with 40 egg follicles ready to be fertilised.
Richard Dawkins describes how snakes evolved from four legged lizard-like ancestors and biologist Simon Watt finds out what it feels like to be crushed by a python.
The dissection explores the science of slithering, the benefits of stretchy skin, and how a flexible jaw allows snakes to stretch their mouths around huge prey, including alligators.