If you live near an area that has snakes, you’re probably familiar with the scaled, legless creatures. Most people have a fear of them and get a bit squeamish when presented with even the most harmless of reptiles, but they’re not all dangerous.
It can be very difficult to tell the dangerous snakes from the harmless ones, which is why there are experts who make it their sole job to know the difference. Sometimes, though, the snakes they remove need more help than the people requesting the snake be taken away.
On Jan. 9, the Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher, also known as Tony, shared a story about a recent rescue. A family had spotted a python in their pool — but he wasn’t the lithe, rippling snake he should be. His pattern looked strange and his scales were bumpy.
A more detailed look reveals that those bumpy scales aren’t scales at all, but a nasty infestation of ticks.
“And you thought one tick was bad?” The snake catcher’s Facebook post says. “Look at this poor carpet python from coolangatta! We arent sure how many ticks are on him but we will ask Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation if they can count them when they remove them. Never in the 26 years of catching has tony ever seen something this bad.”
The snake was nicknamed “Nike,” and people sent in their guesses as to how many ticks the python was covered in. The final count was as gross as it was astounding.
“Ok everyone. Old NIKE is still being treated .. But the vets worked for hours to remove the visible ticks,” the snake catcher wrote. “There are still tiny young ones under the scales that will be treated with drugs to kill them…”
“But this poor carpet python was living with a whopping 511 ticks…. Wow. 511.”
Many people guessed that Nike was in the water because he was trying to drown the ticks to prevent them from killing him. Without any other means of eliminating these nasty pests, the snake was slowly dying from blood loss.
“Thank you for all your well wishes regarding Nike the ‘tick python’, who made international news,” wrote the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation on Jan. 12. “Nike saved from a certain death by Tony and Brooke from Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher after being found in a swimming pool covered in ticks.”
“Our hospital staff removed 511 ticks from Nike, which left him very unwell with anaemia. Nike also has a nasty infection which may have caused his immobility, allowing the ticks to take advantage of him.
“Nike isn’t out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful he will make a full recovery and be released back into the wild in the coming months. He is now in the hands of an experienced carer from Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers.”
Nike has a ton of recovery ahead of him, but at least, for now, he isn’t being slowly drained by ticks.