For Kurt and Amanda Jongedyk, managers at a tourist resort in Western Australia, removing snakes is part of the job. But while recently relocating a very chubby olive python, the couple got more than they bargained for when the snake unexpectedly regurgitated another python of equal (if not greater) size.

An olive python loses its sizeable meal. Image © Parry Creek Farm Tourist Resort and Caravan Park

“What started out as a typical relocation turned into a once-in-a-lifetime event,” the team from the Parry Creek Farm Tourist Resort and Caravan Park in East Kimberley wrote in an update on their website.

After spotting the olive python (Liasis olivaceus) hiding out in a carport Jongedyk, concerned for its safety and the wellbeing of the chickens on the resort, made the decision to relocate the 3.5-metre (11.5-foot) snake to a nearby billabong. Shortly after releasing the hefty python, the Jongedyks noticed that it had “started to bend and move strangely”.

For the next minute, the couple watched in fascination as the snake regurgitated another olive python of about the same length. Amanda Jongedyk managed to snap some photos of the incident which were posted to the park’s Facebook page and have since been shared almost 3000 times.

Although rarely witnessed, it is not uncommon for snakes to dine on their own kind. King cobras are especially noted for their snake-gobbling abilities, while Australia’s eastern browns will snack on a snake if the opportunity presents itself.

Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not dislocate or unhinge their jaws in order to swallow large prey, but they are specially adapted for the task. Snakes are equipped with two lower jaws that are connected by elastic ligaments allowing them to move each one independently. When faced with a large meal, snakes use the toothy parts of their upper jaw like an anchor and “walk” their lower jaws over their prey. For particularly large snake meals, king cobras (and possibly other species) compress the vertebral columns of their prey like an accordion in order to package it perfectly to fit into their gastrointestinal tracts.

After consuming a large meal, snakes become sluggish and lethargic (sound familiar?). They will usually retreat to a safe spot where they will spend the next few days digesting their prey. In this case, it’s likely that the snake felt threatened following the relocation and, in an effort to escape the perceived threat, it quickly got rid of its meal.

“Sadly he lost his lunch but we hope he grabs something else and the birds get his left overs,” the resort posted on Facebook.

Header image: dilettantiquity/Flickr