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Rare Sighting In Australia: Snake Devours Its Own Kind

North Queensland sanctuary manager captures unusual and lucky event of a black-headed python consuming another python.

A man has documented the ‘lucky’ sighting of a snake eating a snake in Australia.

North Queensland sanctuary manager Nick Stock spotted a black-headed python eating one of its own species – tail first.

The unpleasant discovery earlier this month was deemed “unusual and lucky” by Dr. Helena Stokes, Wildlife Ecologist at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary, where Nick works.

A man has documented the ‘lucky’ sighting of a snake eating a snake in Australia. NICK STOCK/AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY/SWNS


Nick had been checking on the status of a second arson event in less than a fortnight across the 165,000-hectare sanctuary when he came across the snakes.

He says: “It was a surprise at first, but I feel really fortunate to witness such an event.

“I have previously witnessed black-headed pythons eating an eastern brown snake and a yellow spotted monitor, however, this was the first time I witnessed a black-headed python eating another black-headed python.”

AWC explains: “Nick, who had relocated to the sanctuary with his wife Holly Stock and their two children in July, was walking along the banks of the Archer River in the southern boundary of the sanctuary when he spotted the distinct and beautiful black head of a black-headed python.

(Nick Stock/Australian Wildlife Conservancy via SWNS)

“The individual had wrapped itself around another creature and appeared to be constricting its prey.

“Trying not to disrupt the feast, Nick slowly creeped closer. That’s when he noticed something unusual about the python’s prey – it was snake-like and it too had a black head. Nick quickly realized that the Black-headed Python was about to eat a smaller Black-headed Python tail first.”

Nick adds: “Fortunately for me but not-so-fortunately for the python being consumed, it took around 15 minutes from when I first witnessed the initial constriction to the python finishing its meal and returning to its burrow which was only about 10 feet (3.05 m) away. This gave me plenty of time to get a camera and document the event.”

A man has documented the ‘lucky’ sighting of a snake eating a snake in Australia. NICK STOCK/AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY/SWNS

Black-headed pythons give new meaning to the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ with cannibalism known to occur occasionally in this species in captivity. Dr Helena Stokes, AWC Wildlife Ecologist, said witnessing and documenting a cannibalism event in the wild requires a fair bit of luck.

“Although cannibalism has been witnessed in this species in captivity and has been reported in the wild, getting images or footage of such an event in the wild is quite unusual and lucky,” said Dr Stokes.

“Black-headed pythons prefer to eat reptiles over mammals and are known to eat larger reptiles including goannas, and even venomous snakes, so I’m not surprised that they would consume another python if the opportunity arose,” added Dr Stokes. “By consuming other individuals, they are also reducing competition for resources in the area.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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