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LOCAL residents taking a Sunday walk near Mount Isa in Australia were shocked to see a snake battle with a crocodile before constricting it and eating it face-first.
The struggle was spotted at Lake Moondarra, where the 10ft snake, believed to be a python, coiled itself around the crocodile and wrestled it in the water. The snake later brought the dead crocodile onto land and ate it, with the outline of the croc still visible to onlookers.
Tiffany Corlis, a local author, told the BBC: "It was amazing. We saw the snake fighting with the crocodile – it would roll the crocodile around to get a better grip, and coil its body around the crocodile's legs to hold it tight."
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The fight began in the lake, said Corlis, with the crocodile trying to hold its head out of the water, but the snake was constricting it.
"After the crocodile had died, the snake uncoiled itself, came around to the front, and started to eat the crocodile, face-first," she added.
The snake apparently took around 15 minutes to eat the crocodile, but another witness, Alyce Rosenthal, told the Brisbane Times that the two creatures fought for about five hours in total. "It's not something that you see every day," she said.
Pythons constrict their prey in order to suffocate them or cause heart failure, and many snakes have flexible jaws, enabling them to swallow animals many times their own body size.
Snake expert Bryan Fry, from the University of Queensland's School of Biological Science, said the feast would keep the reptile satisfied for about a month, adding that the longer it takes to digest, the longer it is without a means of defending itself.
"Now it might go and find a hollow in the mud and tuck itself away for a while," he said.
Fry added that while water pythons usually target smaller animals and rodents, small fresh water crocodiles are easy prey. "Crocs are more dangerous to catch but easier to sneak up on," he said.