Holy Cow!
Rock Climbing With Snakes In Australia

Readers keep asking whether snakes in Western Australia really get big enough to eat cows and buffaloes. It seems an email has been making the rounds...

Have you seen that picture of a huge snake on a rock ledge in Western Australia yet?

People have been sending me questions about it. Initially the tag line was, "Rock climbing anyone?" Then the story became bigger and bigger, and now it's, "Holy Cow!"

Allegedly the snake is pulling a cow out of the water.

Yeah, right...

Australian snake pulling cow out of the water? Not!

People, cows don't have stumps for front legs and they don't have a massive tail. That's a little wallaby that the snake is hanging on to. (For you foreigners: a wallaby is a small kangaroo.)

The snake is an olive python or a water python, non poisonous and totally harmless (though they can make nice holes into you if you pick them up and annoy them).

Olive pythons can get huge, five metres and longer. And like all snakes they can unhinge their bottom jaw and swallow prey that is much bigger than their own circumference.

A few years ago we saw an olive python down at the channel where I live, all wrapped around a wallaby and in the process of swallowing it. Everybody drove down to have a look at it. It was a decent sized wallaby and quite the sight. (Sorry, no pics. That was before the digital camera arrived in remote Western Australia.)

Water pythons don't get that big but can also grow well over three metres. Wallabies can be very small.

Yes, a big python can occasionally get lucky and nab a careless wallaby, though it is rare. Usually their prey is smaller, for example mice and frogs and lizards.

The photo is impressive, it's not often that you get a chance to see a python get hold of something that size.

But, get real, people. Snakes eating cows and buffaloes, for crying out loud... Our poisonous snakes get a bad enough rep as it is, we don't need this nonsense about pythons on top of it.

Return to top

About Australian Snakes

Return to Outback Australia Travel Guide home page

The Outback > Australian Animals > Snakes > Snakes eating Cows?