Snake undergoes surgery after eating unlikely objects

Surgery was the only way the snake would survive after swallowing not one, but two tennis balls.

A snake's unlikely snack ended with a trip to the vet after a wildlife carer was not confident the reptile would be able to pass the object or vomit it up, claiming he had never heard of a snake eating one before.

Wildlife carer Will Kemp was contacted last week after an almost three-metre long scrub python had eaten not one but two tennis balls owned by a resident's dog in Cooktown, Far North Queensland, the ABC reports.

"I'm aware of cases where snakes have ingested blankets and towels, even a light bulb once but, no, never tennis balls," he said. "I was contacted and asked what the chances were of it passing the balls or vomiting [them up were] and I wasn't confident [it would], so handed it over to a vet... we decided the best course to take was surgery."

The snake ate tennis balls in a backyard with an X-ray here showing two large circular masses.
The snake ate two tennis balls in a Cooktown backyard after it mistook them for prey. Source: ABC

Why would a snake eat a tennis ball?

Kemp believes it is likely the tennis balls were eaten by the snake because they were used as dog toys, meaning they would have been covered in saliva and smelt like the pets, with the snake confusing the objects as prey themselves.

Wildlife carer Will Kemp holds the snake in his hands with a bright pink bandage on its body.
Wildlife carer Will Kemp has been caring for the scrub python after it ate two tennis balls last week. Source: Facebook

If the snake had eaten an organic substance the same size it would have been easily digestible — with the reptiles known to eat large prey such as possums — but the synthetic material of the tennis balls would result in it keeping its shape throughout the snake's digestive system, likely killing the snake.

"I don't like the idea of passing a tennis ball whole myself," he added.

The wildlife carer has the intention of releasing the scrub python back into the wild near the property it was initially found once it has fully recovered from surgery.

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