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The head of the snake covered with ticks
Image: facebook/Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher

Snake with 500 ticks rescued in Australia

Louisa Wright
January 11, 2019

A python named Nike has been rescued in Australia, with the snake catcher who secured him saying he had never seen such a severe tick infestation. The wily reptile was found swimming, hoping to drown the parasites.


An Australian snake catcher has rescued a carpet python with more than 500 ticks attached to it from a swimming pool in the Queensland city of Brisbane.

Tony Harrison said he was called out to remove the snake from a property in the town of Coolangatta on Thursday.

Read more: The Burmese python and the fight for the Florida Everglades

Harrison live-streamed the rescue on his Facebook page "Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher," and said that in 26 years of snake catching he had never seen such a severe case of ticks.

"He's got hundreds of ticks on him. That's why he's in the water; he's trying to drown them," Harrison said.

The snake, which has been named Nike, was taken to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, where vets spent hours counting and removing 511 ticks from its body.

There are still tiny young ones under the snake's scales that will be treated with medication, according to the snake catcher's Facebook page.

An unusual case

Stephen Barker, a professor of parasitology at the University of Queensland, told Australian broadcaster ABC that the ticks attached to the python were reptile ticks but it was unusual to see so many.

"We can't help but wonder if the snake is already sick or old … they have lower immune responses to parasites, so you do tend to find a lot of ticks on sick animals," Barker told the ABC.

In a Facebook video uploaded on Friday, Harrison said Nike was more "spritely" but did have an infection, for which he was receiving treatment. He looked set to be a long-term patient at the wildlife hospital.

Ticks can carry a number of diseases that can result in death if left untreated.

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