How To Survive a Python Attack

How To Survive a Python Attack – What To Do?

I think about this scenario far too often, I’m looking for snakes at night and I step past a rock and a large python attacks me. There have been a couple of times I have been near thick foliage and undergrowth and heard something coming closer to me. I couldn’t see it, but it was in there.

Ha! I sound paranoid, right? You spend 3-8 hours in Thailand’s rainforest by yourself and see what your mind does.


You could sever the spinal cord at the neck and stop the python from contracting around you. A deep cut to the neck would probably sever some arteries and could help to bleed the snake out.

Pythons Get So Big They’re Scary

Reticulated pythons and Burmese pythons are the big snakes in Thailand that can kill you. Here in my area, we have the retics. I’ve seen one between 6-7 meters long. I’ve seen one eat a goat. They can certainly eat a small-framed human being.

Most nights I’m fine. I don’t fear ghosts. I don’t fear the people I meet in the jungle – most times. I don’t fear venomous snakes because I figure anything I do that gets me in trouble is within my control for the most part. There’s a very slight chance I’ll die in the forest from a venomous snake bite, and I don’t fear that at all.

I do fear something hunting me though. Tigers, leopards, bears, and big pythons.

What to Do When a Python Tries to Kill You?

Reticulated python swollen from eating a man in Indonesia in March 2017.
A man in Indonesia was eaten after being attacked by a large python.

How can you fight a python? Recently a rubber tapper in Indonesia went out alone at night to collect latex from the rubber trees on the plantation. He didn’t come back. Friends went looking for him.

They found him in the stomach of what they said was a seven-meter-long Reticulated Python. That’s a big snake. People were incredulous, could it REALLY eat a person?

What eats alligators? Yup, they do. Are you KIDDING ME? They can eat ALLIGATORS. What makes you think a person is any different?

Wait, here’s the best line from the entire BBC article which covered this story… “Pythons rarely kill and eat humans, although there are occasional reports of them swallowing young children or animals.”

Wait, there are “OCCASIONAL reports of them swallowing animals? There are thousands! Happens thousands of times every day. Pythons eat dogs, cats, birds, chickens, pigs, alligators, small deer, and many other animals!

Here’s something else dumb they said, “Reticulated pythons are among the world’s longest reptiles and suffocate their victims before swallowing them whole.”

Just a few minutes of research would have turned up the fairly recent study that shows that people who die as a result of a python attack, die because their blood pressure raises so high – that the heart cannot beat. The heart is stopped and death occurs. It isn’t asphyxiation that is the cause of death.

Anyway… here’s the BBC article on this story:

So, the purpose of this article is to entertain WHAT TO DO IF A PYTHON HAS BITTEN YOU – AND IS WRAPPING AROUND YOU QUICKLY.

How To Survive a Python Attack?

  1. Python bites you.
  2. Pull out a knife as fast as possible. The knife should have a lanyard to wrap around your wrist so you can do #3.
  3. Keep the python from wrapping around you at all costs. Repeatedly unwrap until you can safely use one hand to #4.
  4. When possible – stab the snake in the neck, side, or belly repeatedly and many different places. Don’t stop. Stop when the snake lets go and you can run away as fast as you can.
  5. Hope and pray the python lets go.

That has been my plan for about the last fifteen years. I’m not sure if it would work. I’d like to have a better plan. If you can think of one, DO LET ME KNOW.

Some other ideas… and yes, these are bad – horrific – but, if you’re in a life-or death situation, you need to do whatever you can to stay alive, right? I mean, who wants to become snake food?

More Ideas to Help You Survive an Attack

  1. If the eyes are visible at all – jam a knife, pen, rock, stick, anything – into the eyes repeatedly – even ripping the eyes out if at all possible.
  2. Keep a strong serrated knife handy. It’s possible to see through the snake at least until you reach the vertebrae. See #5.
  3. Bring a container of strong mouthwash, or isopropyl rubbing alcohol and keep it in your shirt pocket – easily accessible. Snakes have been shown to let go when they encounter a face full of mouthwash.
  4. If you could keep a small torch handy, you could fire that up and fry his brain with it. It would have to operate with one hand. Hopefully, you’d even have one hand free to use it.
  5. I wonder if a small saw would be the best weapon to have. A saw with a blade on it that can see through 2-3 inch thick branches might be ideal. Not sure where you’d keep a saw of that type handy on you at all times, but you’d be damn glad you had it when the time came. You could put it on your boonie cap. I think this might be the best violent way to remove the snake. You could see through a python’s vertebral column in a matter of seconds with the right hacksaw.

Anyway, that’s what I came up with.



More Reticulated Python Info >

Thailand Snakes – Venomous and Non-Venomous snake information!

How To Survive a Python Attack
How To Survive a Python Attack


  1. i love this post the saw is the best or maybe an axe
    now that I am thinking some sort of needle that you
    can inject in a poisonous chemical could also be very good!

  2. I have read that zookeepers use hot water to force constrictors to uncoil, or alternatively, pouring alcohol or hard liquor on the snake’s face and in its mouth is a reliable method. I do not know how reliable it is, however some claim that bending a constrictor’s tail over its dorsal side (back or top side) will cause it to release. Maybe a good idea to carry a flask of booze when in the rain forest or Everglades, or when zookeeping.

    1. I am relieved to note that pouring hard liquor is effective in warding off python attacks. Arming myself with a bottle of whiskey at all times will surely help. My wife will think i am the python however and i will have to deal with that.

      1. Your weapon won’t last long I guess. On a cold night, it would be better to drink the weapon aka. whiskey.

    1. I was thinking about biting too – but if you handle a big python, you’ll realize that you probably couldn’t even bite through the thick skin.

    2. WTF…bite it. Yeah right mate.

      Remind me not to go jungle trekking with you anytime soon.

  3. I was bored out of my mind doing homework and thought of this and I’m very glad I stumbled upon this article. The mouthwash method sounds very successful to me.

    Thanks for the interesting read!

    1. lol – yeah, this is more exciting stuff than homework. Now get back to work! ha!

  4. Is any electronic radiation device helpfull to keep them away. Or pepermint oil keep rats away.?

    1. I don’t know any gimmick that keeps snakes away. Best bet is seal up house and yard and remove food – rodents, frogs, lizards, geckos.

  5. Always carry a large knife and if bitten, quickly stab the neck or saw through the base of the snakes neck. I assume once you cut through, it’s pretty much over for the snake. And the neck is a vital and thinner area to cut/stab through.


    1. hold snake head to ground and keep hammering hard and fast with other hand fist

  6. Petrolem products such as kerosene works as well

    1. I guess I think about not killing the snake if possible. But, yeah, in that circumstance, it’s war.

  7. Is the python bite poisonous or causes paralysis? If so, self preservation may be complicated

  8. Yes some of these methods could very well work, however, these pythons are lightning fast, they strike quicker then the eye can see, the chances of you using your arms is going to be slim as you will be wrapped up before you even realize whats happening. At this point, any movement you make is going to make the python squeeze even harder, it’s instinct. The best real chance you have at this point is to hope you are not alone and someone there can assist you by simply having them grab the snakes head which will enable them to control the snake. If you can control the head then you can control his whole body and be able to remove the python with less effort.

    1. With a big python, nobody is going to control the head once he’s wrapped up. Best bet with a buddy is the buddy starts unwrapping from the tail.

  9. I think a big enough snakes strike could knock some people out easy given shock and definitely a stike to the back of the head. Youl be lucky people die all the time from pythons, at the least il take a dog, hopefully itl be an alarm…

  10. Snakes are cold blooded and need a warm environment to function. Perhaps if someone has access to a CO2 fire extinguisher they could discharge it on the snake’ head and freeze it’s brain. Of course,if you’re all alone in the bush that wouldn’t work. Maybe a sharp machete would work best to chop it in half near the head.

    1. ha! Maybe one of Elon Musk’s flame throwers that aren’t flame throwers?

  11. If you wear a hard leather jacket studded with sharp steel studs fixed all over, the python cannot wrap around you, if it wraps around it injure itself so it will not tighten its wrap around you. You can easily kill it with a sharp knife.

      1. Before trying this one watch the video of the guy who tried to get swallowed by a python while wearing plate armor. Didn’t work out too well for him.

        1. I thought that was animal cruelty and pointless. Didn’t watch it. Won’t watch it. Cheers

    1. yes, but tell that to people who live in the woods in Thayland, Indonesia and the Philippines, where the heat is so hard that is quite impossible to wear that over there

  12. Say Vern, perhaps you’d like to add to the following article the most probable cause of Jim Thompson’s mysterious disappearance in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia?…

    But why? I read most of the article, no mention of snake at all. Was there?

  13. Whatever you use needs to be able to be used one-handed in case it’s a hand they bite and latch onto. Any flask of liquor or mouthwash would need to be in a squeeze bottle. I’ve also read corrosive powders like lime are good to ward them from your camp area. But I guess some modern lime dust isn’t as corrosive as it used to be.

    Moving to the Philippines I often think about this too. Not only pythons but cobras too. Fortunately the cobras there are not king cobras and don’t spit. My pastor there told me if you don’t hear the bullfrogs croaking at night, be wary. The old reliable buddy system is always the best idea.

    1. Several rounds of hot
      9mm, will probably weaken him somewhat

  14. I’d say that if you’re trekking in the bush, and are expecting a snake attack of any kind as a red on your risk assessment score, then you’re going to be prepared. A good Bowie knife, quality steel that takes a razor edge would be a must, and personally I’d take a shotgun. Either a Remington pump action riot model, pistol grip only, in 3″mag loaded with Turkey shot, as in BB’s, as from experience buckshot isn’t great in a panic for smaller targets. BB’s are guaranteed to hit anything fast, so Cobras etc no sweat. Sawing down a reliable box lock side by side would also be a good alternative, lighter to pack and simple to use for members of your party who have limited firearms experience than a pump action. So now the snake is wrapped round one of us, simple solution is to place the muzzle point blank in a coil with the shot facing away from the victim, and blow a hole in the snake. Or ideally if it springs on you, open up on it before it makes contact. A big Bowie or a parang used by your partner to hack the snake constantly. Hell, stihl make a lightweight lithium ion powered chainsaw you could pack, soon uncoil a snake. But as I say, you’d all pack a shotgun if a snake attack was Amber red on your risk assessment for the trip

    1. See, now we’re getting some good response. lol. Not sure if that would work or not, but probably would do something. Maybe not fast-acting enough? No idea. Does anyone recommend this in the states?

    1. I would guess so, no idea. Not like I ever heard of someone trying this.

  15. Take a plastic bottle of strong liquor with you to the jungles, the pythons’ attack is lightening fast, you probably have no chance to fight back, when the python wrap around you, the plastic bottle is squeezed, the liquor sprays out automatically ..
    Does this work out ? i’m not sure, sorry.

  16. “sweat-soaked shirts, especially those that has been repeatedly soaked by sweat for weeks and smells sour disgusting repels pythons . . . . . . ” , i heard that since i was a little boy, but is it true ? ? if so, just wear your dirty clothes into the jungles, pythons will get away from you.

    1. I never heard that one. I doubt it, but I can’t say with any authority on that one.

  17. “Argyreia seguinii vines repel pythons” , “plant that purple-flower Argyreia seguinii vine near your home, pythons will never come”

    1. Sounds like a superstition. Do you have any proof of this? Where did you hear it? Did you make it up or hear it from someone? Thanks. Don’t get me wrong, if it works, I definitely want to know!

      1. If you read Chinese, the following website talks about plants and foul sweat-soaked clothes that repel pythons. [link removed]

        Here in mountainous southwest China, some old villagers also say so.

        But, just like you, I doubt all such claims.

        1. Thank you – interesting! Sweat-soaked clothes. Really? Who knows, maybe??

          1. “you can even capture a python by throwing a bunch of Argyreia seguinii vines at its head, which would temporarily paralyse the snake, then you tie it up with the vines and take it home.”

          2. Jesus man… what are we dealing with here?

            I mean you.

  18. have i spread misinformation on this site ? if so, i’m deeply deeply sorry !!!
    i’m just looking for people who have experience and insight to point out what i have heard is wrong.
    Because i’m planning to go to the mountains to install beehives, the risks are clearly there.
    Thank you sincerely for providing this site.

  19. My thought was a bow saw. That’s a tree saw with large teeth. It should saw through the largest python in maybe 5-10 seconds.

    1. Yeah, for sure. I think the real problem is – how much range of motion will you have to be able to grab the saw and make a sawing movement. The pain of the bite is going to be incredible. Even assuming you could ignore that, the weight of a python that was big enough to attack you, and the strength of the coils wrapping around you, would be incredible and would restrict your motion severely. One person said unwrapping the tail as quickly as it tries to wrap you up. That would probably be the main key. You aren’t likely to die from the bite, unless it’s around your throat. It’s the crushing coils that end up causing death.

  20. I would learn to walk on stilts like Sheetrock workers use. Then your feet are always off the ground!

  21. If I had to go near one, have a good knife on each side,and or firearm, keep at least one arm free,even if I had to offer other one, then fight like there’s no tomorrow, cause there won’t be. Aim neck & head

  22. I’m going to the Everglades tomorrow to work with contract python hunters trying to reduce the invasive species. I looked this up as a precaution as I am terrified of snakes. I’ll let you know how the hunters deal with an attack.

  23. I am picturing a python would be a tiny bit less of a problem than a boa. But if I were to decide to hike/camp in the forest, I would definitely want the bowie knife with the serrations, like one of the guys said above. If I were asleep, I would want that knife near my arm that is down on the ground at all times, hence if I rolled over, grab knife and roll over and have it at the ready.

    If he’s trying to coil around you while sleeping, the arm that’s towards that ground should still be free to grab your knife and reach around and stab/cut that same area at the base of the head.

    I am also picturing coming up on a python and he sees me first and there comes that mouth and I raise my left arm to protect face/neck and grabbing knife with right hand and like said, first making stabbing actions at the are of the medulla oblongata and then using a sawing action. I also like the idea of dropping so you can press on his head while stabbing/cutting at the base of the back of the head/neck. You cut through that spinal column/medulla, he’s rendered helpless and now all you have to do is pry your arm/leg out of his mouth.

    I would figure if alcohol really works, taking it over mouthwash, since the mouthwash does not have the same concentration of alcohol.

    But another thought is taking a handheld taser and if the python has your arm in his mouth, hitting him again at the base of the skull.

    It would seem punching would be worthless, ever punch a guy in the gut? If they aren’t ready for it, you get them, but if they tighten their muscles it’s not near the same impact? Well, a python/boa is all muscle, it’s like punching the bed! I am sure a python can hold his breath for a little bit, so blocking his nasal passages seems worthless.

    I can’t see where cutting his eyes out will help, sure it would hurt and he can’t see but he’s in war so he’s gonna keep at it.

    I suppose you could try reasoning with him, but even most human animals could care less if they are leaving your kids as orphans, or are caring for your mother, so that’s out, as well!

    Yeah, if it were me, I would definitely have an extremely sharp knife with a very sharp, skinny point and a very sharp serrated section on the same side as the blade (not having to turn the knife with serration on the tang) and a bottle of alcohol into the mouth, if he hasn’t actually gotten attached to me yet. The alcohol is also great (but painful) to clean out a wound.

    1. WOW, that sums it up. Any or all of those could work. Luckily we have very VERY few attacks like this in Thailand. Never knew a tourist to be targeted. Children and small framed people in the villages working in agriculture seem to the only target, but infrequently.

    1. Yeah, I’m still not sure what to do to be honest. I hope that I could reach my knife.

  24. Hey guys im from Malaysia, encounter 1 when I was fishing on my kayak last week, while I was looking at the front when I was fishing, a sudden look at the back of my kayak almost gave me heart attack, a yellow reticulated python was swimming towards my kayak and I immediately paddle away and gladly it couldn’t catch up on me and swim to the bank after that, after I paddle far away from that snake, I pull out my phone and zoom very far and try to take a video of it since I am too scare to go near that thing to take a clear picture. I was looking for advise on how to deal with this situation if Im really been attack by that snake and eventually I found this article, leave some advise for me if you have some, what I can think of is carrying a knife on kayak on me but Im afraid that I dont have chance to use it after it starts to restrict.

    1. I think the snake would not have tried to get on your kayak when it saw you there. It was almost certainly not trying to attack you. Pythons love the water – freshwater or saltwater and it isn’t uncommon to see them swimming there. You’ll be fine on kayaks and small boats.

  25. I would think a cigarette lighter would stop the attack. I can’t think of any animal that is capable of withstanding a flame touching them. Works good on human attackers too…. dogs, alligators, bears.

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