Fact Check

The Cow and the Snake

Photograph shows a snake pulling a cow out of the water.

Published May 5, 2007

Claim:   Photograph shows a snake pulling a cow out of the water.

Status:   Real photographs; inaccurate description.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, February, 2007]

The Cow and the Snake

This is a snake pulling a cow out of the water.

Talk about a man eater!

Click to enlarge

Origins:   Some species of snake are capable of truly impressive feats of strength and gastronomy, and the photograph displayed above is one example of such (even though it may be mislabeled).

The serpent captured in this picture is an olive python, one of Australia's largest snakes. What the python appears to be hauling out of the water is not a cow but a wallaby — still a very large animal in comparison to the snake itself, but a type of prey that pythons have been known to ingest before.

The Australian news outlet ABC Far North Queensland reported of this picture back in July 2005:

It's not your average fishing shot but I'm sure you'll agree it's a catch that few could ever imagine.

The picture shows a large Olive python capturing dinner — a wallaroo or euro.


the size of the python, which if you look closely you can see disappearing out the right hand side of the frame. How much more of it is there, curled around the escarpment it so beautifully blends with?

It appears that the wallaby is already dead but swallowing it will require an awesome feat of strength from the python — not only to drag the 'roo into it's gut but also to hang on while it does so. It's a large python but it's still an impressive display of the incredible physiology of these reptiles.

The pic was taken in the Kimberley region of [Western Australia] ... the scene captured in this image holds a kind of macabre fascination for most of us who view it, as well as a tease ... did the python actually manage to swallow its ambitious meal, given its precarious location?

Or was it simply reeling in its catch, like any fisherman, to consume it in a more genial environment.

ABC also noted that someone posting as the original photographer left a message in their guestbook:

I hope you enjoyed the photo that we took recently while hiking in a gorge in northern Western Australia. The phython was not able to lift the wallaby after trying for approximately one hour. We left him catching his breath on a rock ledge above the pool.

Last updated:   2 May 2007


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags