The python and the possum – not for the faint-hearted


There are a lot of photos here (21), but I thought it was worth documenting in detail.

John Spencer, near Grafton (about 3 hours’ drive south of me), writes. Thanks also to Jenny Spencer for the photos.

In my workshop, I heard a strange noise in the roof and found that a carpet python had just caught a sleeping common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). The possum was in a long narrow space between a rafter and the outside wall cladding, approx 6 inches by 8 inches by 8 feet. It was too narrow a space for the snake to swallow its meal so it dragged it out to a more open area.

Originally only hanging on by 6 inches of tail, the snake is supporting the weight of the possum while trying to swallow it (below).

Step 1 - the possum has already been asphyxiated by tightening of the python's coils

The python dislocates its jaw so that the possum can be swallowed. Look closely at the mouth of the snake (below). You will see the wind pipe detached and sticking out (the grey tube right next to the possum’s face) so the snake can breathe while swallowing.

The dislodged windpipe of the python is visible

Step 2 - you can see the snake's windpipe

Finding it awkward to manage while hanging upside down. Change position. Maybe that will help.

Step 3

Holding the possum in a kink of its body, the snake is trying to carry it to a different spot where it would be easier to handle.

Step 4

Step 5

Having dropped the possum on the floor, the snake proceeds to swallow it.

Step 6 - the snake has given up holding the possum and dropped it on the floor

Step 7

We had some WWOOFERS staying with us and they were as fascinated as us with the proceedings.

WWOOFERS glued to the scene

We didn’t think it would be able to swallow something so much bigger than itself. We were waiting for it to give up.

Step 8

Step 9

Step 10

We could hear the bones crunching as the snake squeezed the possum to get it in its mouth.

Step 11

It’s all in there.

Step 12

The snake worked the possum down its stomach by kinking its body, then squeezing the possum further down.

Step 13

Step 14

Step 15

Step 16 - finally just about all inside

After all that effort, the snake had to get its jaw reconnected and tighten up its skin again. Lots of yawning and stretching.

Step 17 - gotta get that jaw back into place

Step 18

Step 19

A very satisfied snake with a full belly. The whole event took about 2 hours.

Step 20 - aaah, worth it! A smug carpet python

Post script: John and Jenny found poo later, containing just fur. The bones were eaten with the flesh.

Joy says: The python will take a while to digest this feast! Nature red in tooth and paw – don’t ya just love it? I do. I totally do.

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4 Responses to The python and the possum – not for the faint-hearted

  1. Pingback: Steve lives! (part 3) | A-roving I will go

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  3. Pingback: Ruling the roof | A-roving I will go

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