Snake cannibalism is hard to document in the wild. But up in Far North Queensland, Nick Stock stumbled across this rare behaviour in Black-headed pythons.


Only three months into his new role as Sanctuary Manager at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary (on Wik and Wik Way country), Nick Stock has stumbled across nature at its wildest; a Black-headed python consuming another Black-headed python while it was still alive.

Nick was walking along the banks of the Archer River in the southern boundary of the sanctuary, when he spotted the distinct and beautiful black head of a Black-headed python, wrapping itself around its prey; another Black-headed python.

‘It was a surprise at first, but I feel really fortunate to witness such an event,’ said Nick.

What is a Black-headed python?

Let’s backtrack. Metaphorically. Black-headed pythons are nocturnal and are often seen sheltering in hollow logs and rock crevasses. They only tend to leave these accommodations in the early morning, where they use their dark head (thus their name) as a highly effective solar panel to absorb as much sun as possible.



Black-headed pythons are endemic to the northern part of Australia in humid tropical to semi-arid conditions, and span from Western Australia all the way through to Queensland.

They generally have the palate for reptiles over mammals and are known to eat larger reptiles including goannas, and even venomous snakes. This makes sense; by consuming other snakes and lizards, they’re also reducing competition for resources in the area.

Snake Cannibalistic Behaviour

Snake cannibalism has been documented in the past, and in Back-headed python species, cannibalism has been witnessed in captivity, with very little reporting of this behaviour in the wild…until now.

Situated in the remoteness of the Cape York Peninsula, Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary is a known hotspot for unique and rare wildlife encounters, and boy did it put on a show for Nick!



Lucky Nick, lucky fed snake, unlucky digested snake.


Feature image thanks to Nick Stock/Australian Wildlife Conservancy