“Olive” a 10 year old, 15kg, 4.5 metre long Olive Python came from Northern Australia. She is a gentle lady but extremely strong and quite capable of eating a small kangaroo. Olive got a little bit overweight and lazy and fell out of the tree she liked to sleep in. She badly damaged the tip of the tail and got several nasty abrasions.
Unfortunately the tip of her tail started to die. This is common in the extremities of reptiles if the blood supply gets damaged, and her abrasions became infected. Olive had to have an anaesthetic which is always a challenge in a large snake, but a special ventilator ensured the right mix of oxygen and anaesthetic gas. Dr Sandy Hume operated on her tail and removed about 15 cm of the badly damaged tip, creating a new, healthy tail and preventing the infection from spreading.
Reptiles are cold blooded and their metabolism much slower than mammals. Under anaesthetic, her heart rate was only 5-10 beats per minute (a human heart rate is 60-80 and a dog’s 120-150)! A slow metabolism also means that it takes a lot longer for injuries to heal. She needed 2 months of antibiotic therapy for her infected wounds to heal and her tail has only just finished healing 3 months after surgery. However, now she is back to normal, lost a little weight and happily climbing her tree again.