Warning after snake found in ‘traumatic’ move on side of the road

The disturbing reason the python was biting its own body has caused a snake catcher to issue a dire warning to Aussies.

A carpet python seen biting itself on the side of the road.
This carpet python was found biting its own body by Sunshine Coast snake catcher Brendon 'Giffo' Gifford after it was hit by a car. Source: Facebook

A distressing photo of a snake chewing on its own body after being hit by a car, which left it with severe spinal injuries and internal bleeding, has prompted an urgent warning to motorists.

Brendon ‘Giffo’ Gifford, from Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers, was called out to help the coastal carpet python recently, but sadly the reptile was already dead when he got there.

He said the snake, which was aged seven or eight, had been hit by a car and was lying on the side of a road when it was found at Burpengary in Queensland's Moreton Bay.

Giffo said this type of snake wasn’t venomous and didn’t have fangs, but had between 150 and 200 smooth teeth similar to “fish hooks”, some of which it had dug into itself, meaning the python most likely died from stress, exhaustion and internal bleeding.

“It was bloody ridiculous, he must have been in so much pain,” he told Yahoo News Australia. “He was quite stuck to himself and probably couldn’t unpick himself.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to one [callout] where a snake is biting itself like that, it’s pretty rare."

The snake catcher said it was more common to see a snake biting itself in captivity if the animal gets injured or has cancer.

“They start biting at what’s causing them the pain — quite often themselves. Their first reaction when they feel pain or if they’re scared is to bite.”

Snake catcher Brendon Gifford holding a large snake by its tail.
Snake catcher Brendon Gifford says snakes start biting themselves at whatever is causing pain. Source: Supplied

He said when highly venomous snakes such as red-bellied black snakes or eastern browns bite their own bodies, they could still recover as they are immune to their own venom and the reaction would swell up like a bee sting but go away after a few days.

Reptile veterinarian Dr Jonathon Howard previously told Yahoo News as snakes don't have arms or legs, they often react by biting where the pain is. This can cause their teeth to “become stuck” in their own skin and they can subsequently die from their injuries.

Giffo said while snakes can be “as tough as old boots”, if spinal damage has occurred, in most cases they can't be saved and will need to be euthanised by a vet.

Astonishingly, he said some Aussies deliberately drive over snakes, mistakenly thinking they are doing a “community service” by saving a human life but in reality, many snakes are harmless and people are more likely to get bitten by a pet dog,

“I’ve seen some of the most horrendous injuries,” Giffo told Yahoo News. “Being hit by a car is a really hard thing for snakes to deal with. It’s a traumatic experience. Even if there are no internal injuries and the damage might not kill them, the stress does.”

He said snakes were still around in winter and urged drivers to take extra care on the roads around dusk or dawn and call a local wildlife carer if they see an injured animal.

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