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Odd behaviour from juvenile snake baffles wildlife rescuer

Mathew Hampton said it was the only snake out of 20 to behave this way.

Despite being no stranger to the weird and wonderful behaviour of reptiles, one snake catcher was baffled to watch a juvenile snake curl itself into a ball while its siblings scrambled away after being released into the wild.

Mathew Hampton was releasing 20 juvenile carpet pythons into bush near Sanford, Queensland and spotted one in particular — barely 15 centimetres in length — curl into itself.

"Most of them slip off straightaway, some were climbing up trees, some were just burrowing into the leaves, but that one just sat there and curled up into a ball," the reptile expert told Yahoo News Australia.

The juvenile snake tightly coiled around itself with its head not visible.
The juvenile snake curled into a ball as soon as it was released into the wild near Sanford in Queensland. Source: Mathew Hampton

The snake was one-week-old and was being released by Hampton after his friend, a fellow snake catcher, had helped them to incubate. He explained why it was important to wait a week before releasing snakes into the wild.

"Baby snakes shed their skin within the first few days of being out of the egg so if you release them before that they're a little bit compromised," he said.

Why did the snake curl into a ball

Other snake species are known to behave this way to defend themselves, but Hampton admitted this is the first time he has seen a coastal python do this.

"Snakes around the world are known to curl up into a ball to avoid predators when they are disturbed, they tighten in on themselves ... This one was most probably a little scared of me," he said. "They keep the head in the middle and basically just try to protect themselves."

Coastal pythons can live up to 10 years in the wild and live mostly in southeast Queensland.

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