Python Swallows Barbecue Tongs Being Used to Feed Him a Rat

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An Adelaide snake owner had to take his python for emergency medical treatment after the animal swallowed a set of barbecue tongs that were being used to feed him a rat. (Credit: University of Adelaide)

An Australian snake owner had to take his python for emergency medical treatment after the animal swallowed a set of barbecue tongs that were being used to feed him a rat.

Winston, a Woma python, was taken into University of Adelaide’s Companion Animal Health Centre by his owner, Aaron Rouse, after swallowing the utensil.

Dr. Oliver Funnell, the attendant veterinary surgeon, told CNN that he assumed it would be a quick removal using a pair of forceps. When he saw Winston, however, it was immediately apparent that the tongs were well-lodged down the snake’s digestive tract.

“You could feel the outline of the tongs through the snake,” he said by phone from Adelaide.

Potentially fatal

Snakes have the ability to regurgitate, but there was a high possibility the python could harm himself because of the metal tong’s sharp edges.

“There was a chance (he could have regurgitated the tongs) but they were too far in,” Funnell said. “Even dragging them out could have been fatal.”

The 25-minute surgery saw Funnell, aided by student veterinarians, remove the tongs from an incision near their widest part.

“We are a teaching hospital and the students helped all along — they got a lot out of it.”

Funnell saw the patient a few days after the surgery and said that, he was acting normally and drinking water again.

“We won’t feed him for two to four weeks but the incisions are healing nicely,” Funnell said.