Australian Brown Tree Snake Bites Itself and Dies
November 13, 2014
There are videos of snakes trying to eat themselves on Youtube, but this brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) didn’t try to eat itself, but bit itself and apparently died as a result. A homeowner in Earville, Australia called Cairns Snake Catchers, a snake removal service because there was a snake on her front porch, according to the Daily Mail Australia. When snake catcher Matt Hagan arrived, he found a dead 1.5 meter brown tree snake with its fangs still embedded into its back.
Intrigued, Hagan took the dead snake to a vet in an effort to try and determine what killed the snake. The only thing that the vet could find with the snake was swelling near the bite area and speculated that the snake got bit by something. The vet told Hagan that when snakes experience trauma, they try and bite around the area. In this case the brown tree snake may have died from its own venom after biting the wound area.
University of Queensland venom expert Dr. Bryan Fry told the Cairns Post that generally snakes were immune to their own venom.
“It’s not absolute, because it does take time for that immunity to kick in,’’ Fry said. “In some of these toxins, it can be so fast, they can actually do a bit of harm in a short period of time. In something like an eastern brown, it’s a very, very fast-acting toxin.”
Matt Hagan/cairns snake catchers
Snake catcher Matt Hagan found this brown tree snake with its fangs embedded into its back.
Brown tree snakes are native to the eastern and northern coasts of Australia, eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and islands in Melanesia. It is invasive on Guam, where it has decimated the native bird populations on that island. It is a rear fanged colubrid snake that hunts at night, feeding on lizards, and in the case of Guam, birds.
John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata