Name: Sammy the Stray Snake
Breed: Carpet Python
Wilston Vet had a very usual patient present to the clinic this month – a 1.8m Carpet Python!
History: A very kind and brave member of the public brought the snake into Wilston Vet after he had accidentally run over it with his van. Luckily, this gentleman was a courier who happened to have a large secure cardboard box in his van in which to safely place the snake for its transfer to the clinic.
Carpet Pythons (Morelia spilota mcdowelli) have a very distinctive pattern and colour and thankfully are non-venomous. They are rarely aggressive, unless the snake is a female protecting her nest. A bite from this snake however may cause a nasty infection. We do not recommend handling any wild snakes without appropriate identification of the snake first and without extreme care. If you ever find a snake that is injured or potentially at risk, we recommend that you first contact Queensland Parks and Wildlife on 13 74 68 for further advice prior to any handling.
Examination: The snake was very carefully transferred from the cardboard box into a clear plastic anaesthesia box for appropriate identification. Once it was established that the snake was in fact a Carpet Python, it was administered an anaesthetic gas until it was asleep. Once completely asleep, the snake was removed from the anaesthesia box and placed onto the surgical table with a mask on it’s face to continue to deliver the oxygen and anaesthetic gas. A special heat mat was placed underneath the snake on the surgical table to maintain it’s body temperature.
Dr Kate performed a complete examination of the snake. Although Wilston Vet does not normally treat snakes, Dr Kate had worked with snakes and reptiles in the past, so possessed some knowledge of snake anatomy.
A large laceration (open wound) was located on the snake’s body, however there were no other obvious injuries.
The snake was then transferred into the x-ray theatre.
An x-ray was performed to ensure there were no internal injuries or bone fractures. Thankfully the x-ray was normal.
Treatment: The snake was then transferred back onto the surgical table and its wound was bathed with a sterile saline solution and thoroughly cleaned.
There was some gravel from the road inside the wound which needed to be gently removed.
Dr Kate then carefully sutured the wound with a special absorbable suture material, careful to avoid the snake’s scales. The sutures would dissolve over time so that the snake did not need to come back to have the sutures removed by Dr Kate. (Dr Kate was pleased about this!)
Once the wound was sutured closed, the snake was administered an antibiotic injection and an anti-inflammatory/pain relief injection. The snake was then placed back into the warm anaesthesia box and continued to receive oxygen until it was awake again.
Once the snake had completely recovered, Nurse Kelly contacted Queensland Parks and Wildlife to inform them of the procedure and to ask for advice about releasing the snake back into the wild. As snakes are very territorial, it is important to release them back into the same area where they were found. Nurse Kelly and Dr Kate located a safe, quiet parkland area very near to where the snake was found on the road, and it was safely released there that evening.