Do Carpet Snakes Kill Cats?

Carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) are a species of nonvenomous snake found throughout Australia, New Guinea, and some islands in Indonesia. They are medium to large constrictor snakes that inhabit a variety of environments including forests, rocky outcrops, and urban areas. Carpet pythons get their name from the ornate carpet-like patterning on their scales. They have a reputation as docile snakes that rarely bite when handled.

Carpet pythons mainly prey on birds, small mammals and reptiles. Their docile nature around humans leads some to wonder whether carpet pythons pose a threat to domestic cats. In this article, we will examine the interactions between carpet pythons and cats, analyzing the risks these snakes may pose to feline pets.

Diet and Hunting

Carpet pythons are carnivorous snakes that feed mainly on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. According to the Queensland Environment Department, carpet pythons often hunt and feed after dark, and prefer prey such as rats, possums, and birds. Smaller carpet pythons tend to eat lizards and other small reptiles more often.

Carpet pythons kill their prey through constriction. They seize their prey with their sharp, backward-curving teeth and then wrap their muscular bodies around the animal, squeezing tighter each time the prey exhales until it suffocates. Carpet pythons do not actually crush the bones of their prey when constricting, but rather cut off the prey’s air supply.

Constriction allows carpet pythons to kill and consume prey much larger than the diameter of their own heads. After constricting and killing the prey, carpet pythons swallow the animal whole, facilitated by their highly flexible jaws.

Interactions with Cats

Carpet pythons occasionally prey on domestic cats, seeing them as a food source. There are documented cases of carpet pythons attacking, constricting, and eating cats in Australia. In 2021, a video went viral showing a large carpet python in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland constricting and swallowing a family’s pet cat whole ( The cat had wandered into the bushes where the snake was hiding. Another incident occurred in 2019 in Brisbane where a carpet python ate a neighbor’s cat, leaving only the collar behind. These types of interactions seem to happen most often when cats wander into carpet python territory and become vulnerable prey.

However, carpet pythons do not actively hunt domestic cats and see them as their primary food source. Most interactions occur opportunistically when a snake encounters a cat. The snake’s instinct is to constrict and overpower what they see as a prey animal in their domain. Overall, healthy adult cats have a good chance of defending themselves against a python attack with their claws and agility. But kittens, sick or small cats can be more vulnerable to pythons viewing them as prey.

Cats as Predators

Cats have strong predatory instincts and may attack snakes simply due to their natural hunting behavior. Domestic cats are descendants of wild cats and still retain those hunting abilities and urges to stalk and kill prey even when well-fed. According to this source, cats are extremely agile and fast hunters that can easily catch snakes.

A cat may attack a snake out of sheer curiosity or boredom. Their quick reaction time gives them an advantage over snakes. The cat’s sharp claws and teeth make them well-equipped to kill snakes. So a snake encountering a cat outdoors is at risk of being attacked and killed as part of the cat’s normal predator behavior.

Risks to Cats

Although carpet pythons have been known to prey on cats, the risk is relatively low in most cases. Carpet pythons are non-venomous constrictors that typically eat small mammals, birds, and reptiles. However, large carpet pythons reaching 13 feet or more can pose a threat to small pets like cats and small dogs.

According to one report, a carpet python in Australia attacked and killed a family cat before preparing to eat it. While alarming, such incidents seem to be rare, as cats are not a regular part of the carpet python’s diet. Overall, the size difference between snakes and cats plays a major role. A small python would not be able to overpower an adult cat, while a very large python could potentially constrict and kill a small kitten or cat.

In most cases, carpet pythons and cats are able to coexist without issue, although owners should supervise interactions. Snakes may strike defensively at inquisitive cats that get too close, especially during breeding season when pythons are more aggressive. But carpet pythons do not actively hunt cats for food. With proper precautions, cats and carpet pythons can safely inhabit the same environment.

Risks to Snakes

Cats can pose significant dangers to carpet snakes. As predators, cats will readily attack, injure, and even kill snakes. According to Catster, cats often hunt snakes purely for sport and will leave the snake’s body after the game is over.

When a cat encounters a snake, it will likely try to attack and kill it. The snake can suffer severe injuries from a cat’s sharp claws and teeth, including puncture wounds, scratches, and bite marks. These injuries can be fatal if the snake sustains damage to vital organs or loses too much blood.

Even if the snake survives an encounter with a cat, the attack itself causes immense stress. Being ambushed and assaulted by a predator triggers the snake’s fight-or-flight response, raising its heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones. Excessive stress weakens the immune system and can shorten the snake’s lifespan.

In summary, cats pose significant predatory dangers to carpet snakes. Their attacks can lead to severe injuries and immense stress for the snake. At worst, the encounter may end in the snake’s death. Responsible cat owners should supervise their pets and prevent them from threatening local snake populations.


While snakes and cats aren’t natural companions, it is possible for them to coexist peacefully if proper precautions are taken. Here are some tips for cat owners who also want to keep snakes as pets:

– Keep the snake enclosure secure and make sure it fully contains the snake. Use a sturdy tank or enclosure with a tight-fitting lid. Many snake owners recommend placing a lock on the enclosure as an added precaution. According to one Reddit user, “The main thing is making sure wherever you keep the snake is 100% secure so that there’s no chance of the snake getting loose.” [1]

– Never allow the snake and cat to interact directly. When cleaning the enclosure or handling the snake, make sure the cat is kept in a separate room behind a closed door. As Quora user Viet Le explains, “Snakes usually see cats as potential predators while cats see snakes as prey or possible predators. Either way, direct interaction between the two rarely ends well.” [2]

– Thoroughly wash hands after handling snakes before interacting with the cat. Snakes can detect prey animals like cats on human skin and clothing. Washing up after snake handling prevents potentially dangerous transfers of scent.

– Make sure the snake is well fed. Hungry snakes are more likely to strike out defensively if they pick up a cat’s scent. Keeping the snake on a regular feeding schedule with the proper sized prey can reduce the chance of aggression.

– Consider housing the snake in a separate room from the cat’s main living areas. This provides an extra layer of separation and security. Snakes also prefer quiet environments away from other pets.

With vigilance and common sense safety precautions, cats and snakes can successfully live together in the same home. Pay close attention to enclosure security, keep handling interactions brief and separate, and feed the snake regularly. While interspecies interactions always pose some risks, smart pet owners can foster safe coexistence.

Snake Aversion Training

It is possible to train cats to avoid snakes using various techniques. One method is clicker training, where you reward the cat with a click and treat when they demonstrate the desired avoidance behavior around a snake or snake habitat.[1] You can start by clicking and treating when they look at a snake toy or picture of a snake. Over multiple training sessions, gradually get closer to real snakes as you click and treat for avoidance.

Another technique is to spray diluted citronella or perfume on plastic snake models. The unpleasant smell will teach the cat to avoid snakes with that scent. Always combine the spray with rewards for avoiding the snake. You may need to reapply the scent regularly so the cat doesn’t get used to it.[2]

It’s best to start training kittens, as adult cats with years of hunting experience will be harder to deter. But with patience and consistency, even adult cats can learn snake aversion.

When to Be Concerned

While most interactions between cats and snakes result in harmless standoffs, there are some warning signs that a snake may have attacked or bitten a cat:

According to, signs of a snake bite in cats can include:

  • Sudden screaming or shrieking
  • Oozing puncture wounds
  • Swelling around the head in the case of bites to the face or neck
  • Collapse
  • Muscle tremors
  • Excessive drooling and frothing at the mouth

According to Daily Paws, other symptoms of a venomous snake bite may include dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and rapid heart rate.

If your cat exhibits any symptoms of a snake bite, or if you witness a snake bite your cat, it is crucial to seek immediate emergency veterinary care. The effects of venom can quickly become fatal if left untreated. Call an emergency vet clinic right away and try to safely transport the cat.

It is also advised to call a professional wildlife removal service if venomous snakes are frequently spotted around your property. They can humanely relocate snakes and suggest ways to snake-proof your home and yard to keep cats safe.


In summary, carpet pythons and cats can potentially live together safely under the right circumstances. Carpet pythons are not known to actively hunt cats for food, but they may kill kittens or smaller cats if an opportunity presents itself. Cats may also attack young snakes. The risk depends on the individual animals, and can be managed by supervision, separation at key times, and training the animals to coexist.

Overall, healthy adult cats are not a natural prey item for carpet pythons. While attacks can occur in rare situations, carpet pythons do not routinely kill and eat pet cats. With proper precautions, cats and carpet pythons can live together without harming each other.

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