In my post announcing I was going camping in Australia, I said I was “off into the wilds to live side by side with nature’s wildest beasts”. So, did I see any?
The first sign of wildlife that I noticed was a singing kookaburra who was perched on a tree about 20 feet away from where I was pitching my tent. But that’s good, it’s hard not to smile while those guys are singing.
Then on the first evening as my wife was unzipping our tent door she started to make those eek noises mixed in with occasional coherent words like “big, ugly, go away! What is it?” So the faultlessly fearless BeninOz and I went over to investigate.
Just a grasshopper I think, but an unusual colour and quite large at around 3 inches long. But his tentacles, if that’s what they’re called, were about 6 or 7 inches long.
The next day BeninOz had gone to the shop, not a usual shop but one that sells thundereggs for which Thunderbird Park is famous. He was going fossicking. He noticed that the sales girl there seemed to be a little distracted by something in the next room. She kept checking that “something”, so much so that Ben’s curiosity got the better of him.
So he asked her what it was and she told him. When he returned to our camp area, he told me. When I heard about it, I had to go check it out myself. With my camera.
The staff kindly let me through to the back room to take a picture. My first picture was way too dark. I couldn’t see a thing.
So I got a bit closer, put on the flash of my camera, stood on my tippy-toes and took another shot.
Meet the snake with no name. Well, he probably does have a name, I just forgot to ask! It’s a 7 foot carpet python and this is where he likes to live. These snakes do generally favour house roofs and rafters. They just sit there quietly waiting for lunch to stroll by, whether that be a possum, a rat, a bird or a flying fox. Sometimes they will have a go at cats, chickens or small dogs.
If you look closely at the bulge, you’ll see that this fellow has just eaten.
I spoke with one of the girls who worked in the shop and she told me that this chap has turned up every year for at least the last three years as far as she was aware. As winter approaches he will slither off to hibernate and when it gets warm again he will slither back to right where he is now.
Nobody tries to stop him, he gets on with his life and everyone else gets on with theirs. These snakes are not venomous but they will give you a nasty bite if they get aggressive, which they can do on occasions, particularly a female guarding her nest.
But I want to point out to anyone who is worried about snakes in Australia, I have now been here nearly two years and this is still only the second snake I have seen in the wild. And like the first snake, if this one hadn’t been pointed out to me by somebody else, if I hadn’t been shown exactly where it was, I wouldn’t have seen it.
So without help, I would have seen no snakes at all so far here in Australia.
As for this 7 footer, if he was a real problem then the shop owner would have phoned up a snake removal service and had it taken away. But no, they let him carry on living exactly where he wants to live. He earns his keep, he takes care of the rats.
My guess is that these snakes, and I am talking about carpet pythons, can become slightly domesticated. They generally only get aggressive for a reason and if they live around humans all the time without being threatened, then they will get used to it and remain relaxed.
And why should they get aggressive? Even a seven footer can’t possibly eat a whole human!