Snake Pulling “Cow” Photograph

Outline:
Email claims that an attached photograph shows a large snake dragging the body of a cow out of a gorge waterhole.



Brief Analysis:
The photograph is genuine but the description is inaccurate. The animal being hauled up by the large snake is in fact a wallaroo, a stocky Macropod that is generally larger than a wallaby, but smaller than a kangaroo. The snake is an Olive Python.

Example:
Subject: FW: INCREDIBLE !THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN IN AUSTRALIA. LOOK CLOSELY … THAT IS A SNAKE PULLING A COW OUT OF THE WATER !






Detailed Analysis:
According to this email forward, the attached photograph shows a large snake pulling the carcass of a cow out of a canyon waterhole somewhere in Australia.

Unlike many images that circulate via email, this photograph is genuine. However, the dead animal is not a cow, although it certainly does appear cow-like at first glance. It is, in fact, a wallaroo (euro), a stocky Macropod that is generally larger than a wallaby, but smaller than a kangaroo. Wallaroos are found in many areas of the Australian continent.

The snake is an Olive python, one of the largest species of python found in northern Australia. The photograph, taken in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, was featured in a July 2005 article previously available on the ABC Far North Qld website. The article noted:

The picture shows a large Olive python capturing dinner – a wallaroo or euro.

Note the size of the python, which if you look closely you can see disappearing out the right hand side of the frame. How much more of it is there, curled around the escarpment it so beautifully blends with?

The person who apparently took the photograph, identified only as “Jody” in the ABC article, added the following entry to the site’s guestbook:

I hope you enjoyed the photo that we took recently while hiking in a gorge in northern Western Australia. The phython was not able to lift the wallaby after trying for approximately one hour. We left him catching his breath on a rock ledge above the pool.

Although the python in the photograph is certainly very large, the misperception that its potential meal is a cow rather than a wallaroo may cause observers to believe that it is somewhat larger than it really is.



Last updated: 2nd June 2010
First published: 22nd May 2007
By Brett M. Christensen
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References
The Common Wallaroo (Macropus robustus)
Olive Python