A wild coastal carpet python slithered into an elderly Australian couple’s house this week and found what it believed to be a tasty snack: a fuzzy slipper.
The pair called Norman Hill with N&S Snake Catcher to remove the large python from their home. They saw a large lump under the snake’s skin and realized one of their slippers was missing.
“I’ve got a silly question, but do you think the snake’s eaten a slipper?’” the female homeowner asked Hill, according to Australia’s Courier Mail.
Hill has been in the reptile business for nearly 30 years, but he’d never seen anything quite like this.
“You could see the outline of some foreign material in the stomach,” Josh Llinas, a veterinarian with Greencross Vets in Queensland, told Courier Mail.
Llinas said the professional snake catcher brought the nearly 7-foot long python into the clinic. The vet took several X-rays to confirm the snake had indeed ingested the shoe.
“This made for one of the most impressive radiographs I have seen,” HerpVet, a reptile department within the Greencross Jindalee Veterinary Clinic, wrote in a Facebook post that contained several graphic images. “You can’t make this stuff up folks.”
The shoe was too large and lodged too far into the snake’s body to come out naturally, so Llinas prepared for surgery.
“Sometimes you can remove the foreign bodies by helping them after they’ve been relaxed … by helping them move it up the digestive tract and out of the mouth,” Llinas said. “This was just way too big and it wasn’t going to come out.”
HerpVet said the reptile was under general anaesthesia while the vet performed a coeliotomy and gastrotomy – the opening of the stomach with an incision. With a 17-inch opening, the doctor was able to extract the object from the snake’s body in about an hour.
“After removal of the slipper … the stomach was closed in two layers, the body wall muscle was closed and surgical staples were used for the skin,” HerpVet explains.
The python was given fluids and pain killers and will rest for up to eight weeks. Llinas did not elaborate on where the snake will go next when it fully recovers.
“He woke up well and is off to for rehabilitation in a couple of days,” HerpVet said on Monday.
It’s not unusual for snakes to eat random objects. They’ll pretty much devour anything that they think looks tasty, Llinis said.
“I had a pillow case removed from a black-headed python, and just a few months ago, I had a tennis ball removed from a snake,“ Llinis said. “This was probably one of the more unusual things I’ve removed. I’ve heard of others swallowing thongs, stuffed toys. You name it, they will eat it.”