The West

Cuddles the python gets a health boost
Perth Zoo staff hold down Cuddles the reticulated python for vet Simone Vitali, second from left. Picture: Michael O'Brien /The West Australian

At times, it looked like Cuddles wanted to constrict the four people it took to hold him down as the reticulated python was given a much-needed health boost at Perth Zoo.

The 58kg snake stopped eating last year, so Perth Zoo veterinarian Simone Vitali has been administering regular doses of antibiotics to get him back on track.

Dr Vitali said although the reptile did not like getting injections, there had not been any mishaps during his treatment.

Reticulated pythons are the longest snakes in the world, with females that can grow up to 10 metres.

Although Cuddles is only five metres long, it still takes four zoo keepers to carry him out of his exhibit and hold him down for his treatment.

"Pythons are like one big ball of muscle," Dr Vitali said.

"While they are not venomous, they can deliver a severe bite."

Perth Zoo staff hold Cuddles the reticulated python. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

After his injection, Cuddles was coiled into a crate for a 20-minute nebuliser treatment of inhalable anti-bacterial medication to help destroy any bacteria that may be causing him problems.

Dr Vitali said the 25-year-old snake had appeared unwell for several weeks but the treatment seemed to be helping him because he was recently able to eat a small chicken.

"He's looking a lot better than he was a few weeks ago, so we think we're getting a good response," she said.

Dr Vitali said it was great to see Cuddles so active again.

"He was very lethargic early on, so we're pretty pleased to see him showing a bit of spunk," she said.

Perth Zoo chief vet Dr Simone Vitali takes a blood sample from Cuddles the reticulated python. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Reticulated pythons are native to southeast Asian rainforests, and usually eat birds and mammals whole.

The term `reticulated' means `net-like' and refers to the python's skin patten.

Cuddles was originally kept illegally as a pet and surrendered to Taronga Zoo in NSW before moving to Perth in 1997.


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