Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Visitor

The giant sniffs the air. 'Fi Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an earthly man,' he chants rubbing his hands together with glee. It was the story of Jack and the Beanstalk that came to mind when the visitor came curling down the bamboo at the bottom of the garden. The 2.5 metre python, glorious in its tiger-like stripes, was on the hunt for something warm to consume. The only trouble was it snaked its way into the garden and came face to face with another creature. Neither expected to see the other.

Carpet Pythons used to be abundant along river bank. But with the drought, the decline in small mammals, housing development, removal of bushland, and kidnapping (or should that be snake-napping) to sell to petshops, these beautiful reptiles seem to have vanished from their riverbank home. But happily not all.

The big orange cat had gone to sit in the courtyard to watch the dark and listen to the night air. Then I heard an urgent scrabble as his paws scuffled though the stones. I found him cowering in the corner, his eyes wide, and his tail plumped with fur on edge. We watched as the carpet snake went spiralling lanquidly back up the bamboo and off through the leafy canopy.

From all accounts this was a rare event. The night holds mystery. This one was a wonderful surprise - and a real privilege to see such a magnificent creature still patrolling its haunts on the look out for morsels to eat. The EPA says that Carpet Pythons have the ability to detect temperature changes of less than one-thirtieth of a degree through their heat sensors called 'pits' located along the lower jaw. Using these heat sensing pits, the python smells out warm blooded animals like possums, rats, mice and on this occasion, a big orange cat by the name of Hamish.