Monday, May 31, 2010

Fighting Snakes

My father was a keen photographer and I recently found these fascinating photos of two carpet pythons fighting on our old shed roof.  I'm told that the combatants are male and fights usually occur in spring time.  Carpet pythons, (morelia spilota), also known as diamond pythons, are fairly common in Australia, covering at least half the continent.  They live in a wide range of habitats from rain forest to semi- arid areas.  On average they grow to about 2 metres in length.  They aren't venomous, they are constrictors, squeezing their prey to death.  They are valuable to have around as they keep the rodent population under control. 

The snakes move from the shed roof into the tree

From the tree they fall to the ground and one is less than pleased by the attention from the camera.

I spent a few years working in wildlife care and it saddened me the number of people who would call us for a snake identification, after they had killed the snake.  Snakes play a valuable roll in our eco system, and though they may not be our favourite creatures, I imagine the feeling is mutual.  We are of no interest to snakes and, unless we interfere with them, the chances of our being bitten is almost non existent.  Nature also loathes a vacuum, so kill one snake and another will move in, possibly something more dangerous.  I was told by a local snake expert that if you kill, or relocate a carpet snake, a red-bellied black snake (venomous) moves in, kill the black and it's replaced by a brown snake (more venomous than the red-bellied black and more aggressive).  Also, as people have found before, the rodent population can explode. So keep your distance, enjoy their beauty and thank them for the service they perform


  1. You could take years waiting to get a photo like that. What a ripper. I once came across a mass of writhing snakes. Looked like a dozen, but maybe not so many. I did not hang around to count heads. Still wonder why so many snakes would be tangled up.

  2. My neighbours have a rats nest with a bajillion little buggers climbing the fence to ransack our vegie garden and chook house - please send spare python soonest!
    Love the photos, your Dad was fortunate to get those shots :)

  3. Love these pictures and the story. Isn't it a perfect life lesson? If you don't deal with a problem (or in this case a snake) when it's fairly innocuous, it just gets bigger and harder to deal with.

  4. Great photos, wish they'd come down out way..maybe they will eventually with the Red-back, the Cane toad and other visitors.
    Love snakes and have many on this piece of land, all treated with the utmost respect..Red-bellied blacks, Browns and one huge one which appears to be a brown but is in fact silver, around 2 metres or so in length.

  5. These photos are like a beautiful dance - stunning.


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