Snake eats possum while hanging upside down from tree in Queensland

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ONE minute a possum was settling in for an afternoon nap. The next it was staring head first down the belly of a 3m python. Photographer Jasmine Kerr captured the moment a coastal carpet python digested a possum on her family’s horse property at Gunalda near Gympie on Wednesday.

Sunshine Coast snake catcher Stuart McKenzie said while carpet pythons are common across the north coast he’s never come across one dining out. Carpet pythons have heat sensitive pits on their lips that detect body heat, which means mammals are vulnerable prey.

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He said the photos capture their incredible jaw strength, using jaw muscles alone for up to half an hour to constrict and devour a possum while hanging upside down.

The tree-dwelling carpet python is known to grasp prey while suspended from their perch. The prey’s weight and struggling meant the species developed stronger lobes in its head to ensure they can finish the job.

A large Anaconda swallowing an entire pig whole

Green anacondas are known to eat pigs and peccaries (which resemble pigs and can get to about the weight of a smaller mini-pig). Snakes have an incredible ability to stretch their jaws and stomachs (though contrary to popular belief they don’t actually unhinge their jaws, they just stretch them), so if they can eat animals several times wider than they are.