A tick-covered carpet python was almost unrecognizable last week after a snake catcher rescued it from a pool in Coolangatta, Australia. Tiny blobs, which almost looked like small pebbles upon first sight, covered the reptile's entire body — even its face.
In total, officials pulled 511 ticks off the creature's weak body. It took hours for veterinarians at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital to carefully extract the pests.
"There are still tiny young ones under the scales that will be treated with drugs to kill them," Tony and Brooke Harrison from Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher, which responded to the scene, explained in a Facebook post.
The animal control service shared several shocking photos of the serpent, including a "gross" picture of a bucket filled with the ticks that were once attached to the snake.
In a weekend update, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in Queensland revealed the snake, which has since been named Nike, was suffering from a "nasty" infection that may have contributed to its immobility thus allowing ticks to "take advantage of him." Nike now has anemia — a lack of healthy red blood cells.
“He is very anemic and that’s because ticks have sucked all the blood out of him,” Michael Pyne, a senior veterinarian at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, told Yahoo News on Monday.
Typically, when a snake notices a tick or other pest on its skin, it attempts to remove it.
“Snakes are meant to rub them off but for whatever reason with Nike that didn’t happen,” Pyne told the news site. “Once they get weak they don’t have the strength to rub them off.”
“He is very anemic and that’s because ticks have sucked all the blood out of him."— Michael Pyne
Wildlife officials are hoping for a full and speedy recovery but caution Nike "isn't out of the woods yet."
"He is now in the hands of an experienced carer from Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers," the hospital noted in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Nike's fans are happy to hear his health is taking a turn for the better.
"I do not do snakes at all! But the poor thing, no animal deserves that. Speedy recovery buddy," one Facebook user wrote.
"Thanks for the update. I'm sure there were lots of people wondering how he was as well as the koala. Great job done by all," another added.
"Wow he looks soo much better with all the ticks off him, a woman commented. "Well done everyone what a great job you do."
Surprisingly, Nike isn't the only creature that has suffered from tick bites in recent days.
The Australian wildlife hospital said a koala was also found with 100 ticks covering its body and had to undergo a blood transfusion last week.
"He was on the hospital's operation table for over two hours having the ticks removed and having the transfusion," the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital said on Saturday. "The good news is he is now with Friends of the Koala and they have reported him to be doing really well!"