Australian snake catcher rescues python with 500 ticks

A python named Nike has been rescued in Australia, with the snake catcher who secured him saying he had never seen such a severe tick infestation. The wily reptile was found swimming, hoping to drown the parasites.

An Australian snake catcher has rescued a carpet python with more than 500 ticks attached to it from a swimming pool in the Queensland city of Brisbane.

Nature and Environment | 24.08.2018

Tony Harrison said he was called out to remove the snake from a property in the town of Coolangatta on Thursday.

Read more: The Burmese python and the fight for the Florida Everglades

Harrison live-streamed the rescue on his Facebook page "Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher," and said that in 26 years of snake catching he had never seen such a severe case of ticks.

Nature and Environment | 31.08.2018

"He's got hundreds of ticks on him. That's why he's in the water; he's trying to drown them," Harrison said.

The snake, which has been named Nike, was taken to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, where vets spent hours counting and removing 511 ticks from its body.

There are still tiny young ones under the snake's scales that will be treated with medication, according to the snake catcher's Facebook page.

Record-breaking snakes

The most venomous snake

The inland taipan produces the most toxic venom in the snake kingdom. Researchers estimate that one bite could kill more than 100 men. The taipan's venom is specially adapted to kill warm-blooded animals. It affects the nervous system, the blood and the muscles. The species lives in semi-arid regions in Australia and is strictly protected.

Record-breaking snakes

The deadliest snake

Though its venom only kills one out of 10 untreated people, the aggressiveness of this snake means it bites quickly and often. This is why the saw-scaled viper is considered the world's deadliest snake, killing the most people. Venomous snakes have diamond-shaped pupils, like cats. Non-venomous snakes have round pupils, like humans. But remember: there is no rule without exceptions!

Record-breaking snakes

The largest snake

The green anaconda is the largest snake in the world. Living in the dark, deep waters of the South American jungle, some anacondas have been reported to be up to 8.8 meters (29 feet) long. The average anaconda is only about 4 meters long. They are very robust snakes and packed with muscles which they use to kill their prey by wrapping around it and slowly suffocating it.

Record-breaking snakes

Even larger

The green anaconda is nothing compared to the titanoboa. This pre-historic snake was a true giant. The photo shows a python creeping over a single vertebra of titanoboa cerrejonensis discovered in Colombia. Fossils suggest titanoboas could grow up to 13 meters long and weigh 1,135 kilograms (2502 pounds). Like the green anaconda, they probably lived in or very close to water, 40 million years ago.

Record-breaking snakes

The smallest snake

The Barbados threadsnake is about 10 centimeters long and, according to its discoverer "about as wide as a spaghetti noodle." It feeds on termites and ant larvae and is found only on the Caribbean island of Barbados. S. Blair Hedges, a herpetologist from Pennsylvania State University, discovered the species in 2008.

Record-breaking snakes

The greediest snake

Snakes have a flexible lower jaw that enables them to swallow animals twice their own size. But sometimes even that is too much for them. In 2005, in the Everglades National Park in Florida, a python exploded after trying to swallow a whole alligator. The snake was found with the alligator's tail sticking out of its midsection. Seems like someone got a bit greedy.

Record-breaking snakes

A master of camouflage

Just a leaf? No, it's a gaboon viper. The form and color of its head resembles a leaf perfectly, enabling the ambush predator to wait patiently for prey coming by in the African rainforests. It has the longest fangs of all snakes - up to 5 centimeters (2 inches) - and is also very venomous. The snake is not at all aggressive, though. Only very few people are bitten by it.

Record-breaking snakes

The sneakiest snake

This guy, the scarlet kingsnake, is non-venomous. But it doesn't want other animals to know that. So it mimics the venomous coral snake which has the same tricolored pattern of black, red and white. It's a sneaky way to tell predators to get lost.

Record-breaking snakes

Most water-loving snake

Snakes are everywhere - you can even find them at a coral reef. Some of those sea snakes are really venomous. Unlike fish, they do not have gills and need to get up to the surface regularly to breathe. Sea snakes can grow up to 3 meters (9.8 feet), but the majority only grows up to 1.5 meters. This species, the banded sea snake, regularly returns to land to digest its food, rest and reproduce.

Record-breaking snakes

Snakes that fly

This snake can propel itself forward by thrusting its body up and away from a tree. That's why it is commonly known as the "flying snake." It curls itself up to resemble the form of a frisbee and glide up to 30 meters wide from tree to tree. Its biological name is Chrysopelea and it feeds on lizards, rodents, birds and even bats. But it's harmless to humans.

An unusual case

Stephen Barker, a professor of parasitology at the University of Queensland, told Australian broadcaster ABC that the ticks attached to the python were reptile ticks but it was unusual to see so many.

"We can't help but wonder if the snake is already sick or old … they have lower immune responses to parasites, so you do tend to find a lot of ticks on sick animals," Barker told the ABC.

In a Facebook video uploaded on Friday, Harrison said Nike was more "spritely" but did have an infection, for which he was receiving treatment. He looked set to be a long-term patient at the wildlife hospital.

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