When the topic of Australian snakes raises its head, we tend to focus on the impressive variety of venomous serpents down under, and it can be easy to forget that Australia’s non-venomous snakes are impressive, too!

Here’s a classic example: a carpet python showing off its hunting skills and physical strength, dragging a possum face-first up into a tree.


This exciting scene was witnessed by the McMaster family of the Brisbane area, after Peter McMaster heard the animals scuffling in the boughs above their backyard.

“You don’t see that every day.” McMaster told local reporters.

Carpet pythons are a common snake to see in southeastern Queensland. Normally they live in trees and rock crevices, but in a region rich in logging and human expansion – practices that have also left the snakes endangered – they have a habit of ending up on roads and in people’s backyards, eating mice, rats, possums, and other small- to medium-sized mammals.

Pythons are powerful snakes. Like other constrictors, they lack venom, and use their muscular bodies to both subdue and kill prey, squeezing them until they stop resisting. Carpet pythons are also expert climbers, as comfortable in trees as the arboreal possums they often hunt. With all that gripping and climbing strength, it’s no wonder at all that this snake is capable of pulling its prey straight up into the branches.

This might not be the first time the McMasters have encountered this particular snake. A couple of weeks earlier, they saw a carpet python – perhaps the same one – attacking a flying fox with less success after the family dog disturbed the hunt.

McMaster estimated the snake to be about three metres (ten feet) long, and while eye-witness estimates of reptile size are often notoriously unreliable, this wouldn’t be a far-fetched size for a carpet python. This species regularly reaches two metres (six feet) in length, and they have been known to grow quite a bit larger. They’re among the largest snakes in the Brisbane area, and oftentimes one of the top predators in their environments.

McMaster said they see snakes quite a bit in their yard (it’s Australia, after all), but the family seems more fascinated by these nature-watching opportunities than disturbed by them. For the serpent, a much-threatened species, that attitude is a fine alternative to the typical persecution these animals face.



Header image: Golgarth/Flickr