A trespassing carpet python hungry for a toes-ted treat wound up having a swallowed slipper surgically removed by a local veterinarian.
You'd think a veteran veterinarian had seen it all when it comes to unusual ingestions. Josh Llinas of Greencross Vets, Mount Ommaney, Queensland, Australia thought so too, until a recent case set him back on his heels. It all began when a local snake-catcher (apparently a common profession down under) brought in an oddly-shaped carpet python after receiving a call from an upset homeowner.
“They knew it had eaten a slipper because they saw it (the snake) in the room with one slipper missing,” recounted Llinas to The Courier Mail newspaper. “You could see the outline of some foreign material in the stomach.” Llinas then x-ray'd the portly six-foot-long python and the results confirmed the snake had swallowed the missing slipper.
Snakes are designed by nature to consume, digest and excrete meals of often astonishing sizes but unlike most meals, even a small slipper wasn't digestible. This posed a life-threatening issue for the snake, especially if the swallowed item cannot be regurgitated. At that point, an experienced vet must make a judgment call.
“Sometimes you can remove the foreign bodies by helping them after they've been relaxed,” explained Llinas, “by helping them move it up the digestive tract and out of the mouth. This was just way too big and it wasn't going to come out.” Llinas and his colleagues then conducted a “coeliotomy and gastrotomy” on the sedated snake, and later posted a video of the procedure to Facebook.
While the operation was an unqualified success and the swallowed slipper (before and after pics above) was removed in one piece, the semi-shoeless homeowner likely won't want it back for obvious reasons.
As for the slipper-y slipper thief, Llinas reports it's in good health and will spend the next six to eight weeks at the clinic, recovering from the surgery. “There was no damage that I could see,” explained Llinas. “This was probably one of the more unusual things I’ve removed. I've heard of others swallowing thongs, stuffed toys. You name it, they will eat it.” Wait, “thongs”?? Let it go, Jake, it's Australia.