A photo with an accompanying report titled “Python Eats Drunk Man in India” went viral over the Thanksgiving weekend, but it isn’t real.
The photo, which shows a snake with a large object inside of it, has been circulating online for the past several years. Each time it has surfaced, the accompanying story has been from different countries.
“Depending on which version of the story you read, the overstuffed python above swallowed a drunk guy in India, an unknown woman in South Africa, an unknown man in Qujing, China, a person of unknown gender in Indonesia, or a 4-year-old child in Malaysia,” wrote About.com’s David Emery, who specializes in debunking Internet myths.
The photo went viral on Twitter after an Indian “financial professional” tweeted out the image, saying the snake ate a drunk man in India, which got tens of thousands of retweets in a few days. “A Python ate a person who was drunk and lying beside the liquor shop. News from Attapady, Kerala,” his original tweet reads.
After that, blogs including the Lords of the Drinks website posted articles about it, without any sources, generating even more Facebook shares.
The Lords of the Drinks site later offered an update, saying “well the comment section is booming. A lot of replies indicate that this post is a hoax. Well, all we can say is that if it is, we didn’t (sic) started it.”
About.com states that the snake most likely didn’t eat a person, but it probably ate a deer. Accounts of snakes eating an entire person are very rare, and the last reported incident involved a South African python eating a 10-year-old boy whole in 2002.
Some media entities, including Russian state media Pravda, covered the story as if it were a fact.
The Burmese python, which is native to Southeast Asia, is considered one of the largest snakes in the world, sometimes reaching lengths of more than 20 feet and they can weigh more than 100 pounds. Over the past several decades, they have become a menace in Florida, where they are declared an invasive species. In May, a Florida man caught a 20-foot-long python–the largest ever caught in the state.
Some reports from this year suggest that green anacondas have been introduced in Florida. Anacondas are native to South American rainforests and are generally considered the largest and longest snakes in the world, with some weighing more than 500 pounds. And unlike pythons, anacondas mostly dwell in the water.