Ruling the roof

Snakey is back! I should probably give him or her (let’s say ‘him’ for convenience, as it’s more likely – read below) a clever name like Ouroboros or Naga, but ‘Snakey’ is much quicker to say when I’m excitedly calling out to Andrew to come see this gorgeous critter, all 10 feet (3 metres) of him.

Carpet python, Morelia spilota

Carpet python, Morelia spilota


He’s a carpet python (Morelia spilota). Last week I’d seen him crawling up the side of the house and into the roof, but it was after dark and the flash of the camera may have startled him so I didn’t take pics. I’d heard a crash on the back deck and went to investigate. The first hint was some potplants, containing herbs, laying on the floor. This time he gracefully avoided knocking them over. (Speaking of herbs, it must be spring – the noisy miners have started their annual thieving of thyme. I wonder if the smell discourages mites in their nest.)

Snakey_2 Snakey_3 Snakey_4

We’d once had the privilege of watching Snakey shed his skin. He’d hooked it on the side of the roof somewhere and stretched down full length, peeling it off like a glove. The new skin was fresh and sparkling, and once he’d gone back up we retrieved it. It was softer than kidskin and so wide and stretchy that I could put my hand all the way inside. Eventually it dried out and split. The skin had visible pelvic spurs so we thought it was a male. (Females have them, too, but not so big.)

Snakey_5 Snakey_6 Snakey_7 Snakey_8

Fortunately, the guy who comes to check our termite situation every year is used to Snakey and happily goes into the roof whether he’s there or not. The guy delivering – and supposedly installing – a gas bottle a couple of years ago was not so thrilled. He’d arrived on a day we were both out, saw the long, shed skin on the ground near the empty gas bottle, and left without installing the new one.

We’re happy to have Snakey in our roof. He eats rats and mice – I wish he’d go for feral cats, too, but they are probably too smart to be caught. A friend sent me some photos of a carpet python eating a possum (click here), so a cat would not be a problem size-wise. Snakey’s been our roof tenant for many years. In captivity, carpets live 15 to 20 years, so I hope he will grace us with his presence for many years to come.

Shell eats starfish

The Australian Institute of Marine Science has posted an article and a great video of a Pacific triton (Charonia tritonis) eating a crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci). Click here. The article discusses the predator/prey relationship between the two.

Pacific triton (Charonia tritonis); photo David Burdick, NOAA Photo Library, Wikimedia Commons

Pacific triton (Charonia tritonis); photo David Burdick, NOAA Photo Library, Wikimedia Commons


Crown-of-thorns starfish

Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci); photo Richard A. Collato, Wikimedia Commons

This starfish eats coral polyps, so spikes in its population cause the whitening of parts of the Great Barrier Reef when they occur. Pacific tritons help keep the starfish population in check.