Tiny snake 'defies gravity' while eating prey upside down

The method is commonly adopted by snakes to conserve energy.

It's that time of year where juvenile snakes are hatching from their eggs and slithering out into the world. And it appears one young snake has already mastered the skill of finding itself a tasty snack.

The carpet python — barely measuring 15 centimetres in length — was spotted by a resident in the Sunshine Coast hanging from her doorway on Wednesday, and upon further investigation she realised the snake was not alone. The tiny reptile had caught a tree frog and appeared to "defy gravity" as it held both itself and the frog above the door frame.

Left, snake catcher Brandon Gifford looks up as the snake 'defies gravity' at the doorframe. Right, the frog tangled up with the snake.
The snake 'defies gravity' while eating a frog in a Sunshine Coast residence. Source: Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers

Why do snakes like to eat upside down?

The homeowner phoned snake catcher Brandon Gifford who visited the residence to relocate the snake, but not before it enjoyed it's meal. He deemed it would be a waste to stop the snake from eating the frog, given the prey was now dead, and so he simply watched in amazement.

"They do it upside down because as soon as they've got the gravity behind them it gets really, really quick to swallow the prey," the snake catcher told Yahoo New Australia.

He compared the eating method to putting a sock on, saying the frog — much like a foot — would simply slip in with the help of gravity, conserving the snake's energy.

Gifford explained the snake would have positioned itself high up as they are "ambush predators", so the height actually helped it to catch the frog, as well as consume it.

"Snakes set up at a height then launch out. They use that height to their advantage, they'll start off hanging then they'll rotate themselves under the animal and allow it to just fall down into their mouth."

Young snake made a few mistakes along the way

Despite the snake being more than capable of catching its own meal, the snake catcher explained it made a few mistakes too.

"Snakes start to swallow after they bite, wrap and squeeze the prey and usually they want to start at the head but this one started at the back legs so it took forever," he laughed. "It had to stop and then start again at the head."

Snake misconception set straight

Despite many people believing snakes dislocate their jaws in order to consume their prey, this is actually untrue, according to Gifford.

"The jaws don't dislocate like people say, they're actually not attached. The jaws are two separate bones that are only joined by skin," he said.

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