Black-headed python spotted at Wooleen Station, 400km from its usual habitat


A sighting of a black-headed python at Wooleen Station has resulted in a change in locality data for the species in Western Australia.

The python was spotted by Wooleen Station owners Frances and David Pollock while visiting their land in Wajarri Yamatji country, about 300km northwest of Geraldton in the Murchison region of WA.

The couple had noticed some unusual tracks at the mouth of a cave a few days earlier.

This week, the couple finally saw what made the marks.

They were from a creature the couple had never seen before on resort property – a black-headed python.

“I was blown away because the only other python we know of that exists on the property is a pygmy python and they are tiny…this guy was at least 2 meters long, and [had] very distinct markings like black head and stripes,” Ms Pollock said.

Frances and Dave Pollock run twice daily tours but have never seen a black headed python on their land before. (Provided: Frances Pollock)

Black-headed pythons are typically found in northern Australia, experts say, making this latest find the southernmost where the snake has been officially sighted in the wild.

Ms Pollock said there were several theories about how the snake could have wandered hundreds of miles outside of its usual range.

“One theory going around is that it got tangled up in someone’s engine bay, but the location is actually not a publicly accessible location…unless they’re accompanied by Dave and I “, she said.

Experts weigh

Brian Bush has worked as a herpetological consultant for the past 35 years and placed the snake nearly 400 kilometers south of its last known sighting.

“It’s great to know [black-headed pythons] occur as far south,” he said.

Mr Bush said that although this was the first sighting of the snake in the area, it did not necessarily mean the snake was new to the area.

man leaning on a snake
Dave Pollock inspects the black-headed python at Wooleen Station.(Provided: Frances Pollock)

“Our knowledge of the distribution of these animals is based on officially recorded individuals…many people will see something briefly but you won’t be able to confirm it as a recording,” he said.

“We had them in Perth, but we know they’re escapees, but the country is so big [around the Murchison area] you just don’t know what’s going on.

“They are active at night in warm weather…during the colder months they are active during the day, so you often see them at this time of year.”

The herpetology expert said people shouldn’t panic if they come across a snake on a bush path.

“The smartest thing is to leave them alone… most of our snakes are venomous and at this time of year they will increase their activity as those spring days progress.”

As for the Pollocks, they hope to spot more black-headed pythons on Wooleen Station.

“I guess with all things, where there’s one, there’s more,” Ms Pollock said.


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