Snake Catchers Save Python Covered In Over 500 Blood-Sucking Ticks

A healthy carpet snake (not poor old Nike). sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Even if you not the biggest fan of snakes, you’ve got to have sympathy for this guy.

Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher in Australia have shared photographs of one of their latest clients, an unlucky carpet python (Morelia spilota) that had become riddled with blood-sucking ticks.

Nike, as the snake has been named, was found in a swimming pool in Coolangatta, on the southern Gold Coast in Queensland, and was in a pretty sorry state. After successfully capturing the snake, they took it to vets at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation who took on the painstaking (although no doubt oddly satisfying) task of removing the ticks one by one.

“This poor carpet python was living with a whopping 511 ticks, the snake catchers said in a Facebook post.“Wow – 511.”

“Never in the 26 years of catching has Tony [one of the snake catchers] ever seen something this bad,” they added.

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Although ticks infestations are most often associated with mammals like cats and dogs, they are no stranger to feasting on birds, reptiles, and amphibians too. Nevertheless, this level of infestation is pretty exceptional and it most likely the result of another underlying problem with the snake’s health.  

Stephen Barker, Professor of Parasitology at the University of Queensland in Australia, told ABC News: "We can't help but wonder if the snake is already sick or old… they have lower immune response to parasites, so you do tend to find a lot of ticks on sick animals."

“For a male tick this is a disco or nightclub, they're there waiting for females to attach and feed,” he added. 

Nike the snake is still being treated and the veterinarians believe he'll be a long term patient. The snake was reportedly suffering from an infection, although it's unclear where this was a cause or an effect of the nasty infestation. However, fortunately, he is showing signs of recovery already.

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