Ask an expert: Snakes in the sea?

By AG STAFF 7 November 2013
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A reader’s question reveals the interesting double-life of swimming snakes.

QUESTION: I took some photos at Moffat Beach in Caloundra, QLD, of a python that crawled out of the grass and onto the rocks. It looked out to sea for a long time before leisurely making its way down to the water, where it swam and swam. Can you explain this?
Christine King, Caloundra, QLD

Professor Rick Shine, reptile expert at the University of Sydney, says:

Snakes are good swimmers and there are scattered reports of people encountering snakes well out into the sea. Famously, one of the first animals to find its way to Anak Krakatoa, after the south-eastern Asian volcanic landmass emerged from the sea in 1930, was a large reticulated python. It must have swum many kilometres to do so.

The carpet python you mention obviously decided to have a swim in the ocean. My guess is that the python thought it had encountered an unusually large lake, and decided to swim across it.

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