Mum's 'absolutely horrifying' discovery on snake in Byron Bay backyard

“Absolutely horrified” is how a NSW mother-of-two said she felt after discovering a two-metre-long snake infested with around 40 blood-sucking-ticks on Saturday.

Having grown up in the bush, Rhianna Tannock isn’t afraid of regular snakes. “(I’m) pretty used to seeing snakes, they stick to themselves if you leave them alone,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

But seeing the large coastal carpet python blanketed with large ticks is what left her feeling unwell. “There’s not much that can make me queasy, but they certainly did,” she said.

Two images of the tick infested snake being held by a man. Left hand side picture is at a distance. The one on the right is close up.
A snake covered in around 40 ticks was found at a Byron Bay property. Source: Rhianna Tannock

The snake was discovered on a Byron Bay property, slithering through a patch of lemongrass on Saturday, while Ms Tannock was walking with her mother’s partner Evan Barratt. The pair were left “absolutely gobsmacked” by the discovery.

Approximately 30 of the ticks were concentrated around the reptile’s head, with a few along the body, and a cluster of six on its tail. Mr Barratt removed the ticks from the snake using tweezers, but Ms Tannock warns “I don’t recommend anyone to go and pick up wildlife especially snakes unless you are trained too do so.”

What to do if you find a tick covered snake

While Australia’s wildlife is usually immune to tick bites, sickly animals including snakes, koalas, wallabies and kangaroos can become riddled with them and require human intervention. Large numbers of animals presented with infestations during the drought in 2019.

Two close up images of the snake being held. Large numbers of ticks can be seen on its face.
The ticks were removed with tweezers, but anyone who finds a sick animal is urged to contact a wildlife rescuer. Source: Rhianna Tannock

NSW-based animal rescue group WIRES advised that while "a couple" of ticks on a native animal is "not unusual, excessive ticks are a visible indication that the animal needs veterinary attention.

"As with any snake we advise to never risk being bitten by handling or containing it yourself but call WIRES on 1300 094 737 or your nearest animal rescue organisation for advice and rescue," a WIRES spokesperson said. "Please ensure pets such as dogs and cats are also contained to avoid them possibly being bitten.”

Ticks can kill pet dogs and cats

Domestic pets like cats and dogs do not have the same immunity to paralysis tick bites that native wildlife does. Signs of a tick bite can include a change in vocalisation, unsteadiness, back leg weakness, vomiting, difficulty breathing and drooling. Bites can eventually result in muscle paralysis and death.

Anyone who suspects their pet has been bitten by a tick should seek immediate veterinary advice.

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