Snakes alive

For something a bit different, for many years our neighborhood has had a carpet python that visited the back yards from time to time, where it cleaned up any vermin and then moved onto the next house. At over two metres it was sizeable – we know it has devoured a possum or two. Recently when it appeared in a yard nearby, hanging about in a small tree, we thought it might be dead after it stayed motionless for a couple of days:

It was very much alive, and waiting – you can see its head in the centre bottom of the photo. The folks in that yard had a young puppy they were trying to toilet train by running down into the yard to do its business. Without doubt the snake knew it was there.

With much regret all around, the snake catcher was called and the snake removed to bushland a couple of kilometres away.

This article shows what Australian carpet pythons can do. Here’s a wallaby disappearing down the hatch:

In that case we are told that someone intervened to rescue the wallaby, but it died later. Hard to see how that could happen without killing the snake.

Usually, I’m told, pythons crush their prey, and the animal expires with a feeling of ecstasy.

Here’s a crocodile disappearing the same way:

I doubt it was choked, but it was obviously subdued and disabled.

There is a story about my dad, who carved a farm out of the bush while living in “The Camp”. Not sure when it was built, but we know that he lived on the farm from when he was 23 years old. Later, 13 years later, his bride joined him there.

Later again, another 11 years later, we moved to the new house when I was five years old, and a very fine house it was too, with two main bedrooms, four other bedrooms, two closed-in verandas, and another four verandas not closed-in. Here it is in the raw when it was just completed, I think on the day of its ‘consecration’ by the pastor:

Later still, when there was more garden and growth around, there was also a more appropriate environment for snakes. But I digress. Back at The Camp, in the roof gutter above where my parents were standing there were holes in the gutter like sieve. That’s where my mother shot a snake with the 0.410 shotgun.

Earlier still, when my father lived there alone, he was accompanied by plenty of mice. For a time he was assisted by a pet carpet python which kept the population down. However, one night when he visited the thunderbox with his hurricane lantern, he sat on the snake. My father had a short fuse at times, and the snake did not survive the event.

Later in the new house, I remember a kitten ending up as a bump in a carpet python under our house. In general at our place at that time a good snake was a dead snake, so that’s what happened.

I also remember when we found quite a large dead snake (brown, from memory) under the tank stand one morning with wounds near its head. It could only have been the cat, or cats. The cats won that round.

Snakes can get eaten too. Here’s a goanna about to eat a tiger snake:

One wonders how the goanna’s digestion deals with the snake’s poison glands.

Back at our place in the city, we have a 24 perch block that backs onto woodland. When we came in the early 1980s there were three large trees in our back yard, a poinciana, a jacaranda and a mango. Over the first years we had a few snakes, until we got a dog, then no more. In 1999 we had the trees removed and a swimming pool installed. It’s now much too open for reptiles to move safely, but the bushland understory has now been stripped out by the plant police, as you see in this photo after recent heavy rain:

For the second time since we’ve been here, the local council has spent large sums removing all the invasive species. Then they go away and it all grows up behind them, plus some new stuff. My wife tells me that up the gully a bit it’s all green, but the green is ‘cats claw’, once planted as an ornamental.

In the front of our house we have a golden penda, which has put on a splendid show this year:

They are everywhere in our suburb at present. There is always something flowering in Brisbane. The parakeets love it, but no help for the snakes.

Brisbane has been known for its interpenetration of human living and wild life. Gradually, however, apartment blocks, townhouses, densification and air-conditioned mcmansions covering almost the whole block are fixing that.

Still, I heard yesterday that a scrub turkey had been sighted on the third level of the Royal Brisbane Hospital car park. When we are done on this planet, there will be other life forms to take over.

4 thoughts on “Snakes alive”

  1. I love the house and history story, Brian.

    Talking about goannas, on Drive time one afternoon I happened upon a tale from a Canadian comedian about his roustabouting experience with a tough outback roo hunting farmer who referred to everyone as “your’e bloody useless”. Somewhere in the story we learn that goannas when scared will head for the nearest tree, or tall thing, which at one point was himself. The story teller finally gets the respect of the farmer over the story of an encounter with a Canadian bear.

    If you ever come across this story please please remember who the artist is, I want to get a recording of this.

  2. Thanks, Ambi and BilB.

    BilB, will do. I’ve heard a story of a goanna running up a man’s leg, from NT if memory serves.

    I’ve had a long term intent to do some family history/early days stuff, but dipping in this time made me realise there are more photos to be digitised.

  3. Brian: Had a frilled neck lizard run up my leg once. The kids were amazed an=d he Aborigines thought it was hilarious.
    If you want scary snake stories boas in Cuba have been recorded working as a team to increase hunting success.

    whenever more than one snake was present in a cave mouth, the snakes would position themselves by hanging from crevices in the cave’s ceiling in such a way as to improve the catching ability of all. The presence of more snakes lowered the catch time of the entire group and, what’s more, snakes who hunted in a group always got their prey. Solitary boas, however, would often end up bat-less after their night of hunting. Each snake was found to take only one bat per hunt.

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