Python eats family dog in front of children|selkie||03/03/08 at 20:18:58|selkie|xx|0|| An Australian family whose pet guinea pig, cat and dog were eaten by giant pythons menacing their tropical home fears their children could be next on the predators' menu.

The Peric family watched in horror this week as their much-loved Chihuahua was swallowed by a 16.5 ft long scrub python on the verandah of their home in Kuranda, Queensland.

Despite hurling chairs at the snake, it was undeterred and they were unable to save the family pet.

"Actually watching it unfold before your eyes was pretty gut-wrenching," Daniel Peric told the Cairns Post yesterday. "We'd had the dog about five years, so it was part of the family."

A pet guinea pig and a cat had fallen victim to snakes in recent weeks and he said he was now worried about his two young children, Ethan, 5, and Talia, 7, who witnessed the python eat their pet dog.

"We have ducted air-conditioning. Call it paranoia, but my big fear is that a snake will get in there," said Mr Peric.

He was scared to leave his children alone in the house. "When it happens once, you think it's a one-off, but last night I thought 'this is serious'".

The Perics called a local snake expert, Stuart Douglas, to try to save their dog but by the time he arrived it had been all but swallowed, with only its back legs and tail protruding from the python's mouth.

Mr Douglas, a snake handler at the Australian Venom Zoo in Kuranda, near Cairns, took the python away. He believed it had stalked the Chihuahua over a period of several days.

"It only took about 30 minutes to eat the dog, but it will be digesting it for two days," he said.

It would then be released into a national park; there was no question of killing it.

Scrub pythons, which can grow up to 24ft in length, live in the rainforests of northern Queensland and usually prey on wild turkeys, fruit bats and wallabies.

But towns like Cairns are expanding fast and as homes are built on the rainforest fringe, the snakes inevitably come into contact with domestic pets.

"These pythons used to feed on wallabies but now they feed on cats and dogs in suburbia," said Mr Douglas.

He said Mr Peric's fears for his children were well founded. "A snake of that size is quite capable of killing a small child."|| Re:  Python eats family dog in front of child|Richard_F||03/13/08 at 16:17:13|richard_f|xx|0||[img][/img]||