Carpet python riddled with ticks now has anaemia but vets hopeful of recovery

Updated January 14, 2019 12:30:36

A carpet python “saved from certain death” after being rescued from a Gold Coast pool is being treated for anaemia after having more than 500 ticks removed from its body, a wildlife hospital says.

The snake, which has been named Nike, was discovered at a Coolangatta property last week.

Tony Harrison from Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher, who was called out to retrieve the animal, said the snake was “trying to drown” the ticks in the water.

The python was taken to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treatment, where it underwent testing and had 511 ticks removed from its body over several hours.

Senior vet Michael Pyne said the snake was very weak when it was brought in for treatment.

“The initial thing is to get some heat into them, reptiles are solar driven and … this guy was obviously found in a pool and was very cold,” Dr Pyne said.

“We do see a number of animals come in with significant tick burdens, but this guy was at the very extreme end.

“To have 500-odd ticks on him was just remarkable.”

Dr Pyne said while it was typical for snakes to attract ticks, the reptiles were usually able to rub them off.

“There’s no doubt he wouldn’t have survived if he wasn’t brought in,” he said.

Dr Pyne said the python had probably been looking to soothe its skin rather than trying to drown the ticks in the pool.

“It’s typical of snakes to look for water when they have skin irritations,” he said.

“He certainly wasn’t going to be able to drown the ticks, he’d run out of breath well before the ticks will.”

In a post on Facebook, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation thanked the public for its well wishes and interest in the case.

“Our hospital staff removed 511 ticks from Nike, which left him very unwell with anaemia,” the post said.

“Nike also has a nasty infection which may have caused his immobility, allowing the ticks to take advantage of him.

“Nike isn’t out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful he will make a full recovery and be released back into the wild in the coming months.”

The snake has been left in the hands of an experienced wildlife carer.

Tick-riddled koala gets blood transfusion

Meanwhile, vets at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital also performed a blood transfusion for a rescued koala found with about 100 ticks covering its body earlier this month.

The animal spent more than two hours on the operating table as the parasites were removed.

Dr Pyne said the wildlife hospital treated a handful of koalas each year suffering with extreme tick-related illness.

“This little one that came in was incredibly anaemic and dangerously slow it was at the point where this little guy could really not lift his head and could have easily died very shortly,” he said.

“But after the blood transfusion he’s now looking fantastic, eating and doing really well.”

Luke Kane, who rescued the animal from Lismore, said he was pleased to see the koala on the mend.

“I honestly didn’t have much hope I could make it to the wildlife hospital quickly enough to save him,” Mr Kane said.

Topics: science-and-technology, animal-science, reptiles, animals, human-interest, qld, brisbane-4000, southport-4215

First posted January 14, 2019 08:39:20

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