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The Buzz

Nightmare Scenario: One Snake, 511 Ticks

Does the thought of a slithering snake make you lift your feet off the ground?

Do ticks give you the heebie-jeebies?

Then we have a story for you that will surely make you do this:


It comes to us from Australia, where a carpet python was found in a pool and, at a distance, looked like it had some fairly bumpy scales. But those weren't scales. They were hundreds of ticks, some of which were completely engorged with blood.

Tony Harrison from Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher had the task of retrieving it last week. Harrison said he had never "seen something this bad," and after snatching it from the pool, the snake was transported to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation

Hospital staff quickly got to work and said Harrison saved the snake from a certain death. In all they were able to remove 511 ticks from the snake, which they named Nike.

It may be recuperating, but Nike's recovery is anything but a slam dunk. Those blood-sucking ticks have left it anemic and the snake also has a nasty infection. Doctors suspect it was that infection that left the snake immobile and susceptible to such a terrible tick attack.

Normally, a tick bite in an animal sets off an immune response to either kill the tick or slow down how fast the tick will feed off its host. But illnesses will compromise the immune system and can lead to a situation like what happened to the snake, Emily Taylor a professor of biological sciences at California Polytecnic State University told Live Science.

While this story isn't local, there's still some cause to be concerned about ticks during this time of year in the Midwest. 

Ticks don't die in the winter and, depending on the type of tick, they can remain active in the colder temperatures. For example, the deer tick is one commonly found in Illinois and will be active as long as the temperature is above freezing.

So it's still a good idea to follow these precautions when heading out on the trails. 

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