Stephen Secor runs his own lab, bustling with reptiles, at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. Since 1998, he has published 30 papers on the python. His lab has studied, among other things, how the python’s microbiome changes in response to eating; how its metabolism responds to meat depending on whether it has been ground up like hamburger or cooked in a microwave oven; how it regulates its blood flow after feeding; and how it keeps a rising tide of gastric acid from lapping into its throat.  

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When the lab Rat is a Snake

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