Olive python swept away after Winton’s first rainfall of the season



January 31, 2019 06:32:44

Winton locals have not only been surprised by their first rainfall in months, but now a 4.3-metre olive python swept away in the Bladensburg National Park.

Ernie Ellis had taken his family to see the waterfalls on Tuesday after the sudden rainfall, where the kids spotted the drowning python.

He said it is unusual to see the water run through the national park due to the ongoing drought.

“The water runs into a hole and comes out of a cave, where the big python was pushed out,” Mr Ellis said.

Mr Ellis described the python as approximately 30 kilograms as he lifted it with son Carlin “Bully” Ellis to explain the surprise catch.

Experienced in handling snakes, Mr Ellis moved the python to a safer location away from the rush of water.

“It’s a rare sight for the kids,” he said.

“We put him over in the dry where the tree goes back down in the cave.”

Lack of rain washes out wildlife

Rain is a rare sight for Winton in Western Queensland, as they’ve seen their first glimpse of the wet season with 41mm since the start of week.

“It’s been very dry here, last time we only got two nights of rain last year in February,” Mr Ellis said.

With the wet season starting to fall in Western Queensland, Mr Ellis’ snake-handling skills are expected to be put to the test in the next coming months.

“We probably get four or five throughout the year in town here,” he said.

“We just take them back out and let them go out in the bush.

“I do get the odd one in houses.

“One of the stations here had a carpet snake in their house about 3 foot long and had to get him out of the house”

Olive pythons make good hideouts

Olive pythons are most commonly found in the Northern Territory and towards the Gulf of north-west Queensland.

However, rare sightings have been previously recorded as far south as Winton and Birdsville.

Associate Professor at the University of Queensland’s school of veterinary science Bob Donnelly said it is not unusual to find the pythons in caves and cliff-faces.

As pythons are mainly nocturnal, most sightings in the day have been made from disturbances during feeding or mating.

“Most pythons are ambush predators, where they lie and wait for their food, which can be up to the size of a wallaby,” Dr Donnelly said.

One of the largest pythons in Australia and olive in colour, hence their namesake; they have a lighter belly usually grow to two or three metres in length.

As the weather cools, pythons will not become dormant but much quieter.

“They’ll most likely think you’re too big to eat,” Dr Donnelly said.

“If you ignore them, they’ll ignore you.”

Unless one falls into your lap from a Winton waterfall.






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