A carpet python suffering from an extreme case of tick infestation was rescued on Wednesday in Gold Coast, a coastal city in the Australian state of Queensland, located about 40 miles from the state capital of Brisbane.
According to Business Insider Australia, the poor animal was found lying in a swimming pool belonging to a private residence in the suburb of Coolangatta.
The unfortunate snake was covered in more than 500 paralytic ticks, which had latched all over its body — the head included – causing severe swelling of its face, notes Newsweek.
The python, which has been given the name Nike, was saved by local pest controller Tony Harrison, a professional reptile handler with Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher.
Harrison told reporters that it’s not uncommon for snakes in the wild to pick up the occasional few parasites. However, Nike’s case was unlike anything he had encountered before.
“I’ve done this for 26 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Upon closer inspection, the snake catcher remarked that he could see “multiple generations of ticks” thriving on the skin of the carpet python — which most likely had been in this desperate state for a long time and was barely clinging to life.
“It had been that way for a number of months,” said Harrison. “It wouldn’t have lasted much longer if we hadn’t found it then.”
As Harrison pointed out, the hapless carpet python had taken refuge inside the backyard pool of the Coolangatta home in order to try and get rid of the parasites that had overwhelmed it by drowning them in the pool water.
Upon reaching for the snake to pick it up, the sensation was like “holding a bag of marbles,” Harrison told the BBC.
“It was like all the ticks were little balls moving in my hands.”
The footage of the rescue was posted on Facebook by Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher and can be watched below.
While Nike the python had certainly been put through the wringer, his condition took a turn for the better as soon as he arrived at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. There, vets spent hours tending to the snake and ended up removing a staggering 511 ticks from its skin. And that’s just the ones that they could see.
“There are still tiny young ones under the scales that will be treated with drugs to kill them,” Harrison wrote in a Facebook update.
The dire circumstance in which poor Nike was found was attributed to an infection that broke down the animal’s defense systems, rendering it helpless against the parasite attack.
After receiving treatment at the clinic, Nike has made a great recovery, as shown in a new photo shared by Harrison earlier today.
Also known as diamond pythons, carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) are large snakes endemic to Australia, New Guinea, and a few islands in the Pacific Ocean. These snakes thrive in a variety of habitats, including forest regions, arid islands, and temperate grasslands. Like all pythons, Morelia spilota are constrictors.