Snakes get an unfair bad rap in the animal kingdom. Even though they’re basically just legless lizards, people shudder at their appearance and balk at the idea of owning them as a pet. But even the most dedicated ophidiophobia (yep, that’s the word for snake phobia!) will feel a little sorry for the snake in this video.
A carpet python in Queensland, Australia, recently bit off more than he could chew when he swallowed an enormous tennis ball. Although snakes are experts at swallowing food bigger around than they are, and have a special set of digestive muscles for the task, the ball was too big around for the 5-foot snake to handle.
Luckily, the poor little guy was quickly found in the backyard he had eaten the tennis ball in, and the residents called snake handler Trish Predergast to assist it. Predergast had never seen anything quite like it before.
“Tennis balls are porous on the outside and not slippery like an egg,” she told ABC News. She had removed plastic eggs and tennis balls from snakes before, but the texture created an additional complication. “We didn’t want it adhering or tearing the esophagus as it came back up,” she explained.
To compensate for the ball’s difficult texture, Ms. Predergast used paraffin oil to lubricate it on its way out. Then she slowly massaged the ball back up the snake’s body and out of its open mouth. This was a difficult, touchy process, taking over thirty minutes because she had to be very delicate. “Snakes are basically one long great big spine with all ribcage,” Ms. Prendergast explained. “Too much pressure or force will break ribs and damage organs.”
After the long operation, the snake was able to spit out the tennis ball with no problem. And for those of you out there worried about the little guy’s health after the tennis ball was taken out, he seemed to be doing just fine. Predergast gave it anti-inflammatories for any discomfort it might have experienced while regurgitating the ball.
And several days after, she gave it a proper meal. “It just ate a rat, I just put it back in a cage and it’s all happy and fat,” she said. It was released a few days after the meal, just after enough time to make sure the rat had gone through its digestive system and everything was still working properly.