Photos of a venomous redback spider eating an equally-deadly snake in Australia went viral. The epic predator battle was caught in the photos taken by Robyn McLennan, from Bright, Victoria.
McLennan was visiting a winery when she came across the redback spider fighting the eastern brown snake. The photos were later posted to the Facebook group Field Naturalists Club of Victoria.
“Took this shot today at [a winery] in North East Victoria. I believe the baby snake is an Eastern Brown,” McLennan wrote, alongside three photos. She then added an update to the post, describing the spider’s tactics.
“The spider has now brought the entire snake off the ground and it is [suspended] mid-air, just under the lower lip of the tank,” she wrote.
The photos show how the highly venomous spider strikes and traps the snake in its web.
Wildlife enthusiasts labeled this encounter a “once in a lifetime” view. However, they also said the natural occurrence of redbacks attacking and eating eastern brown snakes was not uncommon.
“Yes that is an Eastern Brown snake,” one person commented. “They seem to get caught by Redbacks reasonably frequently based on social media photos and videos.”
Redback spiders typically feed on insects, other arachnids and small lizards but they can also prey on larger creatures.
“Redbacks will kill its prey by injecting a complex venom called alpha-latrotoxin from its two fangs, the spider then trusses its victim with silk, immobilizing the victim’s limbs and appendages sticking itself to its own body. Once the prey is restrained, it is then bitten repeatedly on the head, body and legs, then hauled back to the spiders retreat to consume,” Brisbane Snake Catchers, a snake removal service in Queensland, explained on Facebook.
However, people were impressed by the photo captures and the images quickly went viral.
“Amazing, I would love to see some sequences photos of what happened next,” one Facebook user said, while another added: “Amazing! That’s a pretty big snack for a small spider.”
The native eastern brown snake is the second deadliest snake in the world, according to Australia Zoo.
“Eastern brown snakes, together with other browns are responsible for more deaths every year in Australia than any other group of snakes. Not only is their venom ranked as the second most toxic of any land snake in the world (based on tests on mice), they thrive in populated areas, particularly on farms in rural areas with mice,” Australian Geographic once described in a blog post.