Story claims that Australian venomous snakes such as the Taipan are cross breeding with harmless Carpet Pythons to produce deadly hybrids.
False. The story is a myth with no basis in fact. Pythons and venomous snakes cannot interbreed.
You now need to be extra careful in the bush. I’ve heard that, because of the dry weather, taipans and brown snakes are interbreeding with carpet pythons. So, what you think is a harmless old carpet snake could actually bite and kill you!
A long-lived and widespread story claims that some of Australia’s highly venomous snakes are now interbreeding with harmless carpet pythons to produce deadly cross-breeds. There are a number of variations of the story. Some claim that the snakes are interbreeding due to the long periods of drought experienced in some areas of the country. Others claim that the destruction of natural habitat and environmental pollution have forced the two kinds of reptile to begin cross-breeding.
The stories tend to be localized to reference a particular type of venomous snake found in a given region. Some claim that the venomous snakes in the story are taipans. Other claims that they are tiger snakes, or one of several kinds of brown snakes.
Many Australians think of carpet pythons as benevolent, harmless creatures that are eminently “approachable”. In many rural areas, carpet pythons inhabit the rafters of farm sheds or even outdoor dunnies with the full knowledge and blessings of residents. Carpet pythons are often viewed as natural rodent controllers who should be made welcome. Thus, the belief that, due to interbreeding, an apparently harmless python can secretly harbour the potentially deadly venom of a taipan or tiger snake coupled with the ability to constrict victims is particularly worrisome.
However, the story is no more than an enduring urban (or bush) legend that has absolutely no basis in fact. Although the generally similar appearance of pythons and venomous snakes might make it seem reasonable that interbreeding could occur, in reality the wide genetic separation between the two makes such interbreeding simply impossible. Information about pythons in a Queensland Museum Fact Sheet notes:
There is a common myth concerning pythons interbreeding with venomous snakes. The offspring are said to combine all the most feared aspects of each parent; extremely large size, strong toxins and ability to constrict. Since pythons (family Boidae) are only distantly related to venomous snakes (family Elapidae) their genetic make-up is no more compatible than those of a dog and a sheep.
Under normal circumstances, a union would be considered impossible, and the successful fertilisation and development to produce viable young inconceivable.
An FAQ published on Queensland’s Environment and Resource Management website concurs:
Is it true that dangerous snakes such as taipans etc. are interbreeding with pythons, and producing ‘venomous pythons’? Does the taipan cross with the king brown to produce a fierce snake?
No. It is impossible for venomous and non-venomous species of snake to interbreed. Even closely related species are extremely unlikely to interbreed in the wild.
Thus, the claim that pythons and venomous snakes are interbreeding is utterly false and should be disregarded. Of course, Australia certainly does have more than its fair share of highly venomous snakes. Those without good practical knowledge of snakes and their ways would do well to treat any snake they encounter with due caution.
Last updated: 1st December 2011
First published: 30th December 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!