SYDNEY - A snake which decided to eat a tennis ball for lunch had to to have the object massaged back out of its mouth during a 30-minute operation that was caught on video.
The 1.5m-long carpet python was spotted by homeowners in Townsville, Australia, who called in snake handler Brian West.
“Maybe every six months we’ll find ones with something strange in their stomachs, like golf balls and porcelain eggs,” he said, according to a Daily Telegraph report.
West took the snake to Townsville Vet Clinic, where senior vet nurse Trish Prendergast decided to remove the ball by lubricating it with paraffin oil and slowly massaging it back up the reptile’s oesophagus.
Prendergast said in an interview that the snake would have eaten the ball because it “smelt like food, maybe frogs”.
She told ABC News that the snake would have starved if the ball hadn't been removed.
The tennis ball "may have broken down over... 12 to 18 months," she told the news outlet. "But in the meantime, the snake would not have been able to eat..."
She was able to X-ray the reptile to ensure it had not broken any bones.
It took half an hour of delicate manipulation to get the tennis ball along its body and out of its mouth.
A video of the removal was posted on the Facebook page of Townsville Snakecatcher.
"Too much pressure or force will break ribs, and damage organs,” said Prendergast.
The snake will be released back into the wild this weekend (Feb 11/12).