There are slippery snakes, and then there’s this slipper-eating snake.
A carpet python has confused a man’s footwear for a feed, ingesting his right-foot slipper in a late-night snack in a Haigslea home, west of Brisbane, last week.
WARNING: This story contains graphic images of veterinary surgery.
Snake-catching couple Sally and Norman Hill, of N&S Snake Catcher, were called out to wrangle the reptile after it was spotted indoors on Friday.
An elderly man and a relative had come across it during the search for one of his slippers, which had gone missing overnight days earlier.
Once they saw the noticeable shoe-sized bulge in the snake’s body, they started to connect the dots.
Ms Hill said the python took the shoe during the night on Tuesday.
“The man was going to bed, and normally he puts his slippers under his bed. What happened was he woke up Wednesday morning and there was a missing slipper,” Ms Hill said.
“They were looking for the slipper, and couldn’t find it anywhere. Someone thought maybe a possum took it, so they were looking around for a possum, and that’s when they discovered the snake days later.”
Ms Hill’s husband Norman was the one to pluck the python from its hiding spot.
“When we got the snake it was obvious it’d eaten the slipper. We had the spare slipper to measure up against the snake,” she said.
“You could feel the rubber in its stomach, you could feel the sole of the slipper through the skin.”
Ms Hill had her own theory as to why the python may have snacked on the slipper.
“There are lots of mice, possums, and what not out there. My opinion is a rat or possum crawled all over the slipper, or peed on it, or maybe there was a rat or mice in it and the snake saw it,” she said.
“This is the first encounter we’ve had with a snake that’s eaten a slipper, or anything strange. Normally it’s possum, or even a cat, or a dog, or a chicken. But a slipper is a new one.”
‘One of the most impressive radiographs I’ve seen’
The python was taken to a HerpVet at Mount Ommaney, where it was X-rayed it to confirm the footwear was inside.
The reptile underwent successful surgery to have it removed on Monday afternoon.
Well that happened very quickly. We have reached 1000 likes on the last post (and just did an interview in the process). As promised here is the video. The video shows the shoe coming out of the stomach with minimal effort. Care was taken to minimise the risk of spillage and contamination of the surgical field and new gloves and instruments were used for closure.***AGAIN, GRAPHIC CONTENT, VIEWER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED***
Posted by HerpVet on Monday, March 26, 2018
“This made for one of the most impressive radiographs I have seen,” HerpVet director Dr Josh Llinas said.
Surgery was performed under general anaesthetic in a procedure called a coeliotomy and gastrotomy.
The initial approach is through the side of the body, two to three scale rows up from the belly.
The incision, about 20 centimetres long, is made in a zigzag pattern so as to not cut the scale.
“Then I go in, get the stomach exposed, and then enter the stomach and remove the foreign object,” Dr Llinas said.
He said surgery was all over within an hour.
“[The python] woke up very quickly from the procedure, given anti-inflammatories and painkillers and antibiotics in this case, because we entered the GI tract.”
It will be off to rehabilitation in a couple of days, and will eventually be released back into the wild in the near future.
Dr Llinas said if the snake had not been caught it could have died.
“The slipper would stay in the stomach because it won’t digest, and that would lead to some serious problems like stomach diseases and ulcers or infection. That’s not uncommon, we see things like that happen,” he said.
“It wouldn’t eat for a while either, and that could lead to it potentially starving to death.
“The other possibility is it would regurgitate the foreign object. I will often leave them for 24 to 48 hours to see if they’ll bring it up themselves, I don’t want to do surgery if it’s not needed. In this case it wasn’t moving, so we decided to go into surgery.”
As for the slipper – it was removed in one piece, albeit a bit slimey.