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Cow caught chewing on a large python in outback northern Australia

Cow caught chewing on a large python in outback northern Australia

 

A gobsmacked outback worker has captured photos of a cow apparently trying to swallow a snake in a bizarre roadside scene in remote northern Australia.

Refrigeration mechanic Andrew Gertz came across the bovine snake catcher as he drove on the deserted Sandover Highway about 300 kilometres from Lake Nash Station in the Northern Territory.

"When I got closer I could see it was a sand python hanging out of its mouth," said Mr Gertz, from Camooweal, northern Queensland.

"I've seen cows with bone and hides ... I thought it might have been a bone."

He stopped to snap these photos.

Mr Gertz said he couldn't figure out how the non-venomous snake's head came to be in the cow's mouth, speculating the cow might have stepped on or disturbed the snake that then "latched onto its tongue".

A cow eating a snake outside Lake Nash Station in the Northern Territory
Cattle are known for chewing bones and hide to supplement their diets, but snakes are unusual.(Supplied: Andrew Gertz)

Cows known to chew carrion

Western Queensland cattle grazier and natural historian Angus Emmott said cattle were known to scavenge on dead kangaroos and cattle to supplement their diets, especially in the red dust of outback Queensland, but he had no doubt python sucking was unusual.

"I have never seen one chew a snake," Mr Emmott said.

A cow wanders off after dropping a half-eaten snake in the Northern Territory
Mr Gertz reports the cow seems unfazed by its unusual meal.(Supplied: Andrew Gertz)

He said the cow might have been "chewing it for both protein and trace elements".

"Their body tells them what they need and they'll go and chase it down if it's available," he said.

Mr Gertz said the cow seemed unfazed by its unusual meal and his interest, dropped the dead snake and wandered off.


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