A boa constrictor wrapped itself around what many believed to be a dead pigeon and began to eat the bird in the middle of a busy sidewalk in London Saturday morning as a horrified crowd gathered around to watch.
A 15-second video of the unusual display shows the snake swallowing the pigeon whole along High Road. London resident Rachel Garland, 29, took the video as the pigeon was already halfway inside the snake's mouth.
"I wasn't scared because it was moving so slowly and it was completely wrapped up in its pigeon. It was just trying to eat the pigeon, it wasn't taking any notice of all the people," Garland described to BBC News.
Dave Fawbert was also walking along the sidewalk when the sight of the snake stopped him in his tracks. He paused to snap a picture.
"Just a python eating a pigeon on Leytonstone High Road," Fawbert, who initially thought the snake was a python, shared on Twitter Saturday. The image has gone viral, garnering more than 6,500 retweets as of Monday evening.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was called to the scene and safely removed the reptile from the sidewalk.
"[It appeared] someone had found a dead pigeon and then given it to the snake," an RSPCA spokesperson told BBC News. It's unclear how the snake made its way to the pavement, but the charity believes it may be somebody's pet.
RSPCA inspector Rebecca Bedson told the Evening Standard a bystander had already placed the boa constrictor inside a box when she responded to the call. She said the incident is currently under investigation.
“I’m very keen to find out how he came to be in such a dangerous situation. Exposed like that on a street could have meant anything might have happened to him, he could have been run over by a car or attacked by another animal," Bedson told the newspaper.
Investigators will care for the snake over the next few days as they await its owner to come forward. If no one responds, then the snake will be placed in a new home.
Boa constrictors are nonvenomous snakes that can weigh more than 100 pounds and reach more than 13 feet in length. The largest ever measured was about 18 feet, according to National Geographic. Boas, which hail from Central and South America, use their large bodies to suffocate their prey before feasting on them.