Today in strange news coming out of Australia (and there's never a shortage): a snake gatecrashes a barbecue and brazenly steals a tasty charred sausage. But is it real? The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports that the photograph comes via a local snake-catcher, who in turn names "a friend" as the source. The eastern brown snake allegedly made its appearance at a campsite, and "apparently came bolting out, took the sausage in front of a group of people, and disappeared back into the bush. It was like it had done it before," the snake catcher adds.

Since that bit of backstory left us with even more questions than the image itself, we reached out to a few snake experts for some clarity. And here's why we think the tale of the sausage-stealing snake is fake.

For a start, the fact that there's just one image makes us more than a little sceptical. If your barbecue is suddenly raided by a highly venomous sausage-stealing snake (eastern browns are one of Australia's deadliest snakes), you might decide to give photos a miss altogether and make a hasty retreat instead. But, hey, we don't always make sensible decisions. Yet if you are going grab your camera, why take just one shot? Why not a few more? Why not even a quick snapshot of the reptile's victorious post-luncheon getaway?

And then there's that perfect mid-bite pose. Amid all the commotion and surprise that a gatecrashing snake might cause, that's one lucky, well-timed shot. Not surprisingly, experts are suspicious, with some saying the whole scenario may have been staged using a dead snake, according to the SMH.

Finally, snakes just don't go for chargrilled perfection. Barbecued meat might be your idea of deliciousness, but snakes prefer their lunch a little ... less dead. Unlike the scent of a scurrying rodent, the smell of sausage grilling on the fire is unlikely to lure a hungry eastern brown out of hiding. According to herpetologist and author Johan Marais, some snakes will eat carrion (dead animals), and captive snakes will occasionally be fed things like chicken drumsticks – but these will be raw, not cooked. The idea of a snake raiding your barbecue to feed on a cooked sausage is "very unlikely", Marais says. 

So what do you think: real or hoax?

Top header image: Alexandre Roux, Flickr