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Some Snakes Swallow The Darnest Things

May 14, 2015



A brown tree snake was brought to a veterinary clinic in north Queensland, Australia after a snake catcher removed it from a barbecue next to a house. The mildly venomous snake had a golfball-sized lump in its belly that obviously wasn’t a food item. According to the Courier Mail, Veterinarian Linda Schiemer of the Townsville Veterinarian Clinic performed her first snake operation and successfully removed a 3cm x 3cm rubber bushing that came off the torsion bar of a car.  Schiemer completed the operation in about an hour, which included putting the snake under an anaesthetic and cutting the snake’s stomach open wide enough to remove the bushing. She then stitched the snake back up with 30 internal sutures that will eventually dissolve and 10 external sutures that will be removed in a few weeks.


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x-ray showing rubber bushing in belly of a brown tree snake

Townsville Veterinarian Clinic

X-ray showing rubber bushing in belly of a brown tree snake.

The brown tree snake will recuperate at the clinic for a few months before it is released back into the wild, what Aussies call the bush. 

Brown tree snake undergoing anasthesia

TOWNSVILLE VETERINARIAN CLINIC

Brown tree snake undergoing surgery.

Brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) are mildly venomous colubrid snakes native to Australia, eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Melanesia. The snake is an invasive species on Guam and is said to have made its way there by hitching a ride on an airplane or stowing away on a boat during World War II. It averages two to four feet in length with the largest specimen captured on Guam measuring 10 feet.

It has wreaked havoc on the local wildlife, and has decimated 10 of 12 native bird species to the point of extinction on Guam. With these birds removed from the ecosystem, the island's spider populations have gone largely unchecked, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One. The snakes also cause blackouts on the island by climbing onto electric lines; disrupting power several times a week and occasionally causing island wide blackouts. According to the US Geological Survey, more than 1,600 brown tree snake-caused power outages occurred between 1978-1998.

So has your snake eaten anything weird that required a trip to the vet?

 

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