Aussie man ‘lucky’ to witness incredibly rare moment between snakes

Sanctuary manager Nick Stock couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted the interaction.

An Australian conservationist was stunned to capture the incredibly rare moment a python ate another snake of the same species — while it was still alive.

Wildlife Sanctuary manager Nick Stock was checking on the status of an arson event in Far North Queensland when he stumbled upon the wild cannibalism event.

Creeping closer to get a better look, Nick discovered the Black-headed Python wrapped itself around another creature and appeared to be constricting its prey. That’s when he noticed the snake’s prey was in fact a smaller Black-headed Python that it was eating tail-end first.

The smaller python attempts to escape as the larger one eats it alive. Source: Australian Wildlife Conservancy
The smaller python attempts to escape as the larger one eats it alive. Source: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

“It was a surprise at first, but I feel really fortunate to witness such an event,” Nick said. While he’s seen the pythons eating other snakes, it’s the first time he’s witnessed one eating another python.

“Fortunately for me but not-so-fortunately for the python being consumed, it took around 15 minutes from when I first witnessed the initial constriction to the python finishing its meal and returning to its burrow which was only about 10 feet away. This gave me plenty of time to get a camera and document the event.”

Documenting cannibalism is 'lucky'

Dr Helena Stokes, AWC Wildlife Ecologist, said witnessing and documenting a cannibalism event in the wild requires a fair bit of luck.

“Although cannibalism has been witnessed in this species in captivity and has been reported in the wild, getting images or footage of such an event in the wild is quite unusual and lucky,” Dr Stokes said.

The python opens its mouth wide to fit the other python inside.
A close up of the python's audacious feast. Source: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

“Black-headed Pythons prefer to eat reptiles over mammals and are known to eat larger reptiles including goannas, and even venomous snakes, so I’m not surprised that they would consume another python if the opportunity arose.

“By consuming other individuals, they are also reducing competition for resources in the area.”

Situated in the remote centre of the Cape York Peninsula, Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary is a known hotspot for unique and rare wildlife encounters. The 165,000 hectare property is jointly owned by Australian Wildlife Conservancy and The Tony & Lisette Lewis Foundation – Wildlife Link.

Aussies stunned by the find

Sharing the remarkable images to Facebook, many were quick to comment on the astounding moment. “That’s a rough way to go. Poor thing is still alive!” said one person.

“I love snakes but this is def a yeah nah situation,” commented another.

“It's a snake eat snake world,” added a third.

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