How far would you go to save your precious pooch from the deadly grip of a hungry African rock python? One South African dog owner took on the massive reptile with her bare hands.

When her nine-month-old fox terrier was attacked by a python in her backyard, pensioner Denny Bramford launched a brave counterattack, sustaining some pretty serious bite wounds in the process. Alerted by her dog's distressed cries, Bramford found the python wrapped around her pet – she tells IOL that only the dog's back legs were still visible. 


When attempts to pull her dog free failed, 60-year-old Bramford switched tactics and yanked at the python's tail instead. The snake quickly retaliated, biting her rapidly three times, twice on her hand and once on her leg. But the strategy paid off – the reptile disentangled itself from around the dog and slithered away. Both human and canine got some much-needed medical attention after that. 

"Judging from the bite marks and what the vet told me, it appears as though half [the dog's] skull was in the snake’s mouth,” Bramford tells IOL.

So how did a dog-devouring python find itself in a residential garden? African rock pythons (Python sebae) are found across much of sub-Saharan Africa, and Bramford's home, in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, backs onto a big stretch of natural bush ... perfect python territory. A snake expert called in to try to locate the reptile that invaded Bramford's garden thinks the animal probably slithered in through a hole in the garden fence. 

Denny Bramford is not the only fearless dog owner to wrestle her pooch from a python's grip. Back in 2010, Brenda van Bovene of Bushland Beach, Australia saved her pet (also a terrier!) from a similar predicament, though the particular python species in this case was not specified.   

Even though they're not venomous, African rock pythons make pretty formidable opponents. One of the five largest snakes in the world, they can reach lengths of up to 5 metres (and average Joes are around 3-4 metres). And while it might seem that a fox terrior would make for a pretty sizeable snake meal, rock pythons are capable of far more supersized dining. Just take a look at this ambitious eater:

Python eating antelope_08_04_2014
Wrap your jaws around that … an African rock python snacks on an antelope. Image: Alex Griffiths, Flickr.

Top header image: Arno Meintjes, Flickr