Snake's dinner bell
News source: The Courier-Mail
9 February 2008
By Philip Hammond
That was this week's message from Caboolture Shire Council bushcare officer Ed Surman, who was called to Bribie Island last month where a big carpet python was curled up under a house.
"It was a beautiful snake - I would say between 3 m and 3.2 m long", Mr Surman said.
"I got the phone call to come and have a look and the house owners said their cat was missing and they were worried for their children's safety."
"The owners alerted me to the fact that the cat had been wearing a collar with buckles and bells on it, so I took the snake to the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Beerwah to make sure he would be all right."
"Pythons commonly live in house roofs and garden sheds and garages and would be doing a great job cleaning up the rats and ice flushed out by recent rains", Mr Surman said.
"Caboolture means 'place of the carpet snake' in the local Gubbi Gubbi language, he said.
The Australian Wildlife Hospital, set up by the late Steve Irwin and supported by donations to the Wildlife Warriors Worldwide charity, took these x-ray images, pictured, while monitoring the python as it digested its prey.
Australian Wildlife Hospital veterinarian Stacey Gelis said the python weighed 7.1 kg, suggesting it had eaten more than its own body weight.
"The day the snake came in, on January 16, he was quite swollen. You could see where he had eaten something. The x-ray showed up the two sets of bells on the collar," Dr Gelis said.
"It took two weeks for the bells to pass through. Digestion rates can vary with temperature but we kept him warm and helped him stay as stress free as possible, making sure he was comfortable."
Mr Surman made sure he released the python back into bushland in Bribie Island National Park, not far from where he had been found.
And his advice to cat owners: "For your cat's safety, please lock them up at night."