18-foot 'monster' named winner of Australian park's Battle of the Snakes
In honor of World Snake Day, the Australian Reptile Park turned their annual reptile health checks into a friendly competition.
Visitors who were unaware of the holiday were terrified to see the park's three largest snakes out in the open as employees measured and weighed them in front of the growing crowds. Each snake is considered extremely dangerous and required multiple handlers to lift.
Health checks like these are crucial for their well-being. Unlike mammals, which may stop eating or become more vocal to express distress, snakes don't have any noticeable markers of illness. That's why it's important for keepers to consistently check their weight and length, even if the snakes put up a fight.
The staff also has to be experienced and highly trained to perform these checks safely. While this year's "battle" took place without any mishaps, handlers in the past have been bitten — normal behavior for large, aggressive snakes like these, but not fun for an audience of civilians to witness.
Monster, a reticulated python, was crowned the 2019 winner, weighing in at 134 pounds and 18 feet long. Reticulated pythons, the world's largest species of snake as well as one of the few snakes to be considered true man-eaters, can live up to 30 years in captivity.
Second place was awarded to Fluffy, a 108-pound, 14-foot Burmese python, while Nicki Minaj the green anaconda came in third with a weight of 77 pounds and a length of 12 feet.