Pythons living in Australia’s urban areas have had to adapt to life alongside humans and, as a result, they regularly turn up in all sorts of peculiar places. The hefty snakes have been spotted coiled up on Christmas treeshiding out in electricity control boxes and duking it out in residential backyards. The latest Australian snake exploit comes to us from Mooloolaba in Queensland where a carpet python was recently found dangling from a gutter with a possum clasped in its jaws.

"It took nearly an hour for the carpet python to consume the possum whilst hanging upside down," snake catcher Stuart McKenzie explained on Instagram. McKenzie was called out to remove and relocate the dangling snake, but wisely opted to let the python finish its meal before capturing it. When stressed, snakes will quickly regurgitate their prey, so McKenzie was reluctant to disturb the python while it was gobbling down its hard-earned meal.

Coastal carpet pythons can reach lengths of up to three metres (ten feet) and are widespread throughout Queensland and New South Wales in eastern Australia. This is not the first time one has been photographed polishing off a possum in acrobatic fashion. In 2015, a family in Brisbane photographed a similar incident. It was the second python-vs-possum report from that year.

Small animals like rats, birds and possums make up the bulk of the carpet python's diet, although younger snakes usually prefer to dine on lizards. Like all pythons, these nonvenomous constrictors rely on stealth to catch their prey. They hunt by ambush and will lie perfectly still waiting for a potential meal to venture within striking distance. The common ringtail possum – like the unfortunate victim seen in McKenzie's clip – is nocturnal which likely explains why it's uncommon to witness one being devoured in the daytime. Even for an experienced snake catcher like Mckenzie, the feeding session was "incredible to watch".


Header image: Alexandre Roux/Flickr