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Tiny snake turns tables on predator using 'bizarre' move

A woman watched on as the falcon and green tree snake battled it out on the ground.

A wily snake has turned the tables on its feathered attacker, pivoting from prey to predator. Although green tree snakes are not venomous and are not known for constriction, a newly released photograph clearly shows the reptile wrapped around a startled brown falcon.

Blood can be seen spattered on nearby rocks after the fierce battle. Beth McGrath described the scene as “bizarre”, adding she felt “very special” to have been there to witness the battle between the two native species.

“The falcon obviously attacked the snake, because it would have been looking for food, but the snake was getting the better of him which is pretty rare,” she said.

A green tree snake wrapped around the neck of a brown falcon on the ground.
A green tree snake was photographed turning the tables on a falcon. Source: Beth McGrath/Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Did the falcon survive the snake attack?

McGrath is a land management officer with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and she had been inspecting the fences around the non-profit’s 190,000-acre Wongalara Sanctuary in the Northern Territory.

“It wasn’t far from the homestead, and we were heading down through a little creek crossing when I thought: What’s that down there?” she said.

“They were on the ground and the bird wasn’t looking too flash. When we pulled up they got a bit of a start. The snake took off and the bird flew up in the tree very disheveled.”

McGrath watched the bird sit on the branch. He then shook himself and flew away, seemingly without a major injury. “He might be a bit more cautious next time,” she said.

How do green tree snakes hunt?

While green tree snakes don’t constrict prey during an attack, the encounter reveals they will use the method in defence.

The species hunts small aquatic species like tadpoles and fish, as well as tiny skinks and geckoes. They use sharp eyesight and speed to grab food.

Although it’s not recommended that you get too close, green tree snakes pose no significant danger to humans.

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