Sat, Feb 06, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Cold an opportunity for resort to clean reticulated python

By Wu Chun-feng, Luo Hsin-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Snake King Farm, an educational resort in Tainan’s Guijen District (歸仁) devoted to snakes, on Wednesday took advantage of the natural drowsiness snakes experience in cold weather to give its resident reticulated python a bath.

The python has been at the establishment for more than 26 years, resort manager Huang Ku-nan (黃國男) said, adding that while it has been a major attraction, trying to keep it clean has been a significant challenge.

Most parasites that live on the python tend to burrow between its scales, which requires handlers to submerge it in a pool for a medicated bath, Huang said, adding that the snake is not always amenable to such a procedure and that the resort lacks the space to build a pool specifically for such use.

As such, the resort was left with only one option: dragging the python out of its enclosure and rubbing it down, Huang said.

The snake keeper secured the python’s head to prevent it from biting staff while it was dragged out of its pen, Huang said, adding that after they were sure the snake was properly secured, they rubbed it down with insect repellent.

It took about 15 minutes and the python’s cooperation to rub repellent all over it, Huang said, adding that moving the snake in and out of its enclosure proved to be quite arduous.

The application of the repellent was aimed at ridding the python of fleas, which, if left unattended, would grow to significant numbers, leaving the snake weak and with no appetite due to blood loss, Huang said, adding that pythons have been killed in severe cases of flea infestations.

The resort’s python is 6m long and weighs about 16kg, Huang said.

Wild reticulated pythons are historically very dangerous and have been known to eat humans alive, especially in Southeast Asia, Huang said, adding that the longest recorded python was 17m.

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