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Wildlife of Tropical North Australia - Pythons Have Surprising Skills

June 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 177

A visit to remember forever.

Did you ever get that feeling you're being watched? It tingles as if invisible fingers are flicking the nerve endings along your spine. It's an eerie sense of being observed by the keen eye of a hidden stranger. I felt that uncanny sensation one morning, while sunning myself on a banana lounge beside the pool. I half-sat and turned my head to see:

  • The unreadable gaze of an Amethystine Python.

Its head lifted from inside thick coils of beautifully patterned scales, iridescent in the rays of a newly risen Sun, the snake's eyes seemed to return my fascinated stare.

  • My heartbeat thrummed to the familiar, always unexpected, thrill of exchanging awareness with a wild creature.

Mirroring each other's stillness in the surprise of that moment, we waited for what would come next. The Python's sleek head lowered back within its coils, in the equivalent of a shrug, had it only possessed shoulders.

Dismissed as neither tasty nor a threat, I settled back to soak up my share of photons. Next time I checked on the snake, the garden bed, which she'd filled with her spectacular presence, was empty. Without so much as a tell-tale rustle of leaves, 'Monty' had left the scene.

  • Next day, I was on alert for this disappearing act. Keeping a sideways watch on Monty, I crept off my sun lounge in time to watch as her twelve-foot length slid from the garden to slither under the decking. The angle of the morning Sun spotlighted her scales as she progressed between the gaps in the floor-boards.

Over the next four weeks, the python and I shared the early sunlight until she became a regular part of my start to each day. When she failed to turn up one morning, I felt bereft of a companion.

That feeling changed with the realisation that the old Blue Tongue lizard who'd figured in the routines of our back yard life for some years was also among the missing.

  • I suspect Monty had him for breakfast.

The guidebook we consult lists the Python's prey as mammals. such as bandicoot and wallabies, rats - some of our native marsupial species are the size of a cat - or birds, especially favouring the tasty chickens kept by some householders in the suburbs.

  • Nature notes

The Pythons are among the largest of snakes in Tropical North Australia. They are beautiful snakes, having distinctive patterns and a variety of colourations. Non-venomous, they will normally bite only if provoked.

Included in the species prevalent in our region are the Amethystine, the Black-headed and the Water Python. A smaller species that grows to around 3 feet in length is often called the Children's Python because its placid nature makes it suitable as a pet. It has been known to live for up to 30 years in captivity.

Dorothy Gauvin is the author of Conlan's Luck, An Epic Story of the Shearers' War. This little-known uprising of the 1890s has been called a 'Secret Civil War.' Scholarly texts have been published about this seminal and colourful period of Australian history, but Conlan's Luck seems to be the only novel yet published on the subject. Check out Dorothy's blog on the mystery,history and wildlife of Australia at http://www.bestbooksfor.com/oz-stories

Source: EzineArticles
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