Adelaide Zoo

Slithery and scaly python in good ssshape at Adelaide Zoo

There is good news to hiss about at Adelaide Zoo, with vets performing a routine health check on a Rough-scaled Python.

With the snake under a general anaesthetic, vets undertook a thorough examination, checking the python from the tip of his nose to the end of his slithery tail. A heat pad kept this cold-blooded animal toasty and warm.

Zoos SA Veterinarian, Kat Johnson, carefully ran an ultrasound down the long, scaly body to check for any internal abnormalities.

“We used the ultrasound to look at the heart, the liver and look at any potential lumps that we were feeling to see if it was normal anatomy or something else going on.

“We also took some bloods to run a complete blood count, which looks at red and white blood cells to give a picture of health, and also a biochemistry test to look at general organ function,” said Kat.

Listening to a snake’s heartbeat isn’t as straightforward as using a stethoscope, and vet nurses monitored the heartbeat throughout the procedure using a Doppler.

“We put some ultrasound gel on the Doppler, put it just above where the heart lies and we hear the sound of the blood moving through the different chambers of the heart.

“Monitoring the heartbeat is important to make sure everything is going well with the anaesthetic.”

The check-up also involved a series of x-rays, weighing the snake and measuring its length. Working out the length of a snake is a matter of how long is a piece of string, with Kat using string and a measuring tape to measure the python’s curving body.

After the check-up, the python was gently placed inside a snake tube while waking up from the general anaesthetic to keep both the python and vet team safe.

“The procedure went really well and everything is a tick of good health!” said Kat.

Routine health checks are an important part of the proactive health care approach taken by Zoos SA’s expert Animal Health Centre team.

“We do proactive health checks with animals in our care because some animals can hide disease or issues and we want to make sure all of our animals are in good health and doing well,” finished Kat.

Rough-scaled Pythons are native to Australia and found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Unfortunately, the wild population is declining and the three Rough-scaled Pythons at Adelaide Zoo are important ambassador animals, helping raise awareness of the troubles this species and other Australian wildlife faces in the wild.

As a conservation charity, each time the public visit Adelaide Zoo or Monarto Safari Park they are supporting Zoos SA’s mission to save species from extinction.