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Reef Report for Monday, March 5, 2007

Large Snakes Part of Local Landscape

A recent article in the Cairns Post reminded me of the fact that large snakes are part of the local landscape here, the largest being the Amethystine Python, which is one of the longest snake species in the world. © Kairi Hotel Adults can get upwards of 4 metres in length, and are found in the rainforest-clad mountains that lie alongside Australiaís Eastern tropical coastline.

The snakes are not venomous, and will pretty much leave humans alone, the few bites that occur are always related to humans attempting to handle these snakes, or interfering with them.

The snakes can dislocate their jaws, which enables them to swallow fairly large prey, which can include family pets. If you keep chickens up here, you make sure their roosts are meshed off, as birds are one of the favorite prey items of Amethystine Pythons.

In this case a family living in the mountain village of Kuranda woke to the cries of their young dog, only to find it in the grasp of a 3-metre long python. They managed to separate dog from snake, and revived the pup, which is now fine. Later that same night they encountered an even larger python in their home, no doubt in search of the same meal. My guess is that they close their doors and windows for a few months!

I hope you are lucky enough to see one of these beautiful snakes on your visit to the area, they truly are remarkable animals.

As an aside, we know that Dr. Tim Flannery, while doing a research project on tree kangaroos, had placed radio beacon collars on several adult tree kangaroos to learn about how they move through their home ranges. After awhile they noticed that one kangaroo had stayed in the same tree for several days; not the usual behavior of such active and mobile animals. They sent a research assistant (itís always the research assistants that get these sorts of tasks!) up the tree, only to find an enormous python resting in the branches, with a big lump that was formerly Dr. Flanneryís research subject. The radio collar was an important piece of equipment, so the snake was sent to vet hospital to have the collar removed, then released safely back into the same tree.

Dr. Tim Flannery.

Coverage of this story by The Cairns Post.

See snakes and crocodiles at Hartleys Creek Crocodile Farm.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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