Australian vet nurse spends 30 minutes massaging tennis ball out of snake that mistook it for food and swallowed it

KALAHAN DENGX-ray of the snake's stomach

Asnake that had swallowed a tennis ball had to have the item massaged out of its gut by a vet, after it was found by a snake catcher in Townsville, Australia.

The 1.5m carpet python was taken to a local vet surgery on Monday by local snake handler, Brian West.

“Maybe everyone six months we’ll find ones with something strange in their stomachs, like golf balls and porcelain eggs,” he said.  But a tennis ball was a first.

The senior vet nurse at Townsville Vet Clinic, Trish Prendergast, decided to remove the ball by lubricating it with paraffin oil and slowly massaging it back up the reptile’s oesophagus.

Ms Prendergast said in an interview that the snake would have eaten the ball because it  “smelt like food, maybe frogs.”

She was able to x-ray to stomach to ensure it had not broken any bones.

It took half an hour of delicate manipulation and several thumb cramps to get the tennis ball along its body and out the mouth. Ms Prendergast said that “Too much pressure or force will break ribs, and damage organs.”

Without the intervention, the snake would have likley died from starvation, as the ball would have prevented it digesting any other food.

The unharmed constrictor will be released back into the wild this weekend.