'Incredible' snake encounter 'never seen before' by seasoned catcher

The man quickly took out his phone when he saw one snake attack another, before the 'big fella gobbled up the smaller fella'.

The snakes fighting (left) and a close up (right).
Bryan West spotted the two snakes fighting on his way back from a hike. Source: Supplied

A seasoned snake catcher says the "incredible" moment a snake eats another of the same species is one he's never come across.

Video of the intense encounter was captured by hiker Bryan West who said he was shocked when he came across two snakes going for each other before the “big fella gobbled up the smaller fella”.

The Queenslander was on his way back from the summit of Pages Pinnacle in the Gold Coast Hinterland when he stumbled upon the remarkable scene.

“I was almost back to the carpark when I noticed the movement in front of me,” he told Yahoo News Australia. “When I saw that it was two snakes, I decided to record.”

In the video shared with Yahoo, a large snake can be seen with its mouth snapped shut over a smaller snake’s body. “I was surprised to see two of the same type fighting and I was curious to see how it would end,” the 54-year-old explained. “It appeared for a while like the little one might prevail.”

But unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case and the larger snake was eventually victorious.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Queensland snake catcher Luke Huntley said the incident is “very unusual”.

“In my career, I’ve had plenty of calls where people say, ‘Hey, a red belly is eating this brown snake’, or ‘I’ve got a brown snake eating a red belly’, but I’ve never had a yellow-faced whip snake eating another yellow-faced whip snake,” he said.

“I’ve never seen that before so it's incredible to see to be honest. It’s really amazing.”

The rep from Snatch Catcher Noosa 24/7 said usually reptiles will very happily coexist with each other.

“Sometimes cannibalism will occur. It's just something that happens with reptiles, and it does happen with other species, but I think with this particular snake it's definitely rarer than with some species, particularly red bellies.”

Huntley said it’s pretty much impossible to pinpoint exactly why the snake turned on the other yellow-faced whip, which are very common, mildly venomous, and very shy and elusive snakes.

“There could be a number of reasons why the snake would eat the other snake,” he explained. “It could have been because it was a quick, easy meal, or that it was really, really strapped for food.”

Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
The yellow-faced whip snakes were found in the Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Source: Getty

Right now, snakes across Australia are doing what’s called brumation, which is kind of like hibernation except without the long sleep.

“It basically means that their metabolism slows down and they'll sleep on the cold days, and on the warm days, when there's a bit of sun, they'll come out and maybe get an opportunistic meal as well,” Huntley explained.

“And that possibly may have been what happened. Maybe he just came out, saw an opportunity and grabbed the meal, before disappearing back away.”

Huntley even suggested that cannibalism could be happening more often than we think.

“For the most part, they are very shy and their main diet is the little garden stinks,” he explained.

“They're a very, very elusive snake so if they are going to do it, it's going to be in the undergrowth, and you're not going to see it happening.”

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