Finding food is tough work for most predators, but snakes have an added challenge: getting their meals into their mouths. And for this python in Brisbane, Australia, the furry flying food just wouldn't fit.

The failed feast was captured on film by local snake catcher Tony Morrison, and shared on his Redland's Snake Catcher Facebook page

"This snake could not get past the wings of the bat and decided to give up," he notes in the video caption.

After apparently catching and strangling its would-be meal, the carpet python attempts to work its jaws over the body. But even though the snake is no slouch for size – around 2.5 metres (8ft) long – the bat proves too big and bulky, and the big reptile eventually leaves it behind.

Snakes are famous for their prey-swallowing feats. Their jaw bones are extremely mobile, and can expand outward to widen their gapes immensely (though these animals do not "unhinge" their jaws, as is often claimed).

Even snakes have their limits, however, and trying to force down an oversized meal can be dangerous.

This particular python may have missed out on a bat buffet (maybe it should take some cues from the cave-dwelling, bat-hunting boas of South America!), but there are plenty of other meal options to be found in the Land Down Under. Like possums, for instance. (Sensitive viewers might want to give this one a miss.)

The incredible footage from Byron Bay in New South Wales was posted to Instagram by photographer Matt Draper, and it features a part of the hunt that many camera-wielding pros aren't lucky enough to catch on film (and many nature-watchers might not want to see). The ring-tailed possum struggles to escape, but the snake – another carpet python – has the little mammal firmly in its grip.

Draper stumbled across the predatory spectacle, which he says lasted for over an hour, while walking on the beach with his iPhone. "[It was] one of the most incredible displays of wildlife I've ever seen or captured in my entire life," he writes.

For an animal with no hands, it's important to make sure prey is dead before attempting to eat it, and most snakes accomplish this by constriction. Though it's often said that pythons suffocate their prey (and that possum certainly looks to be having a hard time breathing), research has found that the actual cause of death is loss of blood flow.  

It seems Australia's possums may be a more reliable food source than bats (easier to swallow, perhaps?), at least judging by the number of videos of unfortunate marsupials we've come across – and those pythons can strike both in the trees and on the ground.



Top header image: TroublePython/Flickr