No, this snake isn’t hugging a bread roll
While it may seem so at first, the photograph above does not document a love affair between a snake and a baked good.
It was taken by Dan Busstra, a professional snake-catcher on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast when he was performing a snake removal in the hinterland suburb of Maleny late last week.
“While I was there [the homeowner] said ‘my neighbour’s got a python sitting on some eggs, would you like to come see it?’ and because I’m mad passionate about them I jumped at the opportunity,” says Dan.
And sure enough, there she was, a coastal carpet python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli) – “a beautiful mumma python doing an amazing job looking after her eggs”.
Dan explains it’s not abnormal for python eggs to be fused together like this. What makes these particular eggs look unusual – and very much like a bakery treat! – is their golden brown colour:
“With carpet pythons, when they lay a clutch of eggs they do it in a big ball like that.. they’ll lay them out one by one but the mother will then wrap herself around them and bring them all up into a ball to keep them warm.”
It’s this pressure that causes the soft eggs to fuse together.
But these clutches of fused eggs are usually white.
“The darker colouring on top of these is because the Mum hasn’t really hidden away and they’re a little more exposed to the elements than what they normally would be,“ says Dan.
The good news is, despite this extra exposure, the eggs are healthy.
“They were still puffy. When they start drying out and getting dehydrated and sucking right in – that’s a sign that the eggs aren’t healthy and the babies probably won’t make it. But these eggs weren’t showing those signs – so it was perfectly alright to leave them how they were and let nature do its thing.”
Luckily, the homeowner agreed and was happy to leave the mother snake and her eggs at the bottom of his garden.
“I love that more than relocating them,” says Dan. “That’s the dream for me.
“When people call me up and say they have a snake in their backyard, I like to talk about what it is and, if i can, ID the snake with a phone photo then discuss why it’s there and give them a good reason to not really worry about it.
“Obviously snakes like eastern browns, red-bellies, they can be quite defensive so if you’ve got small kids or pets that’s a pretty good reason to move them on, but a lot of the time, carpet pythons, tree snakes… they’re not out to get us… some of them are perfectly fine to be left alone and to let them do their thing.”
UPDATE – 7 February
Good news! Dan Busstra has contacted us, letting us know the homeowners sent him this photo, also telling him all eggs hatched successfully!