An incredible photo of one snake eating another on a beach in southern Victoria has terrified locals but an Aussie snake catcher says residents should think themselves “pretty lucky”.
In the image taken at Grantville, on the eastern shore of Western Port, a dark brown snake can be seen half-way through its meal.
“That’s a copperhead eating a tiger snake,” Barry Goldsmith from Snake Catcher Victoria confirmed to Yahoo News Australia, “and it’s got the head and part of the body already down its throat.”
He went on to explain that copperheads are specialised snake eaters and will quite often eat other snakes — even their own species. “When you think about it, a snake is a perfect meal for another snake because there’s no elbows, feet, claws and things like that, so it just slides down like a bit of spaghetti.”
Why you want a copperhead around
They may be “deathly venomous” but a copperhead makes for a good neighbour, according to Barry.
“Copperheads are dangerous but they are gentle and they haven’t been responsible for any recorded human deaths,” he said. “[Where as] tiger snakes have taken out a few people.
“So if you have a brown coloured snake on your property and you live south of Melbourne, you should think yourself pretty lucky because these guys are your friends. They're eating highly toxic venomous snakes."
But locals weren’t so easily placated.
“That’s impressive as well as scary,” one person commented on the photo of the Grantville incident. “[That’s] one beach I won’t be heading to,” another added. While plenty of others praised the photographer for her “great find” and “amazing capture on camera”.
While copperheads don’t have as toxic venom as tiger snakes or brown snakes, their venom is really toxic to other snakes, Barry explained.
“The copperhead will follow another snake until it catches it and then it will attack it,” he said. “They seem to know where the heart of the other snake is so they will deliver the venom straight into the heart of the prey item and its all red rover. It’s goodnight.”
Except when it’s not. Because sometimes the other snake is dead by the time the copperhead goes to eat it. But sometimes it’s not.
“Especially when they are eating their own species because they have a little bit of tolerance of their own venom,” the snake catcher said. And sometimes the unbelievable happens. “I’ve had snakes regurgitate whole snakes in my bag alive and both the snakes have survived the experience.”
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