High-tech medical treatment for “Cuddles” the python

June 26, 2015

Cuddles CT scan square“Cuddles” the Reticulated Python from Perth Zoo underwent a CT scan this week at Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital under the watchful eye of a team of experts.

Most snakes of his type have a life expectancy of 25 years, but Cuddles is estimated to be around 28 years old. At 5 metres in length and weighing in at 46kg he is one of the most unusual animals to be treated in Murdoch’s computed tomography scanner (commonly known as a CT scanner).

Perth Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian, Simone Vitali said:  “Cuddles had recently gone off his food and although that’s not unusual for snakes in the cooler months, given he’s an elderly Reticulated Python and has lost a bit of weight and body condition we wanted to get a better look at him.”

“We’re very grateful to Murdoch University for letting us use their CT scanner, this technology has allowed us to get a better insight into what might be going on with our aged python.”

The CT scanner worth around $180,000 is a high-tech diagnostic tool that is one of only three CT scanners of its kind Western Australia.

Dr Shona Reese, Senior Lecturer Diagnostic Imaging, at Murdoch University said the CT scan provides a 360 degree x-ray of an animal’s body.

“The machine is capable of accommodating horses as well as smaller animals,” Dr Reese said.

“To scan the python’s whole body we needed to double Cuddles up, even then his tail was overhanging at the end of the table.”

The whole procedure, which involved anaesthetising the python and performing the scan, took around an hour and a half.

Despite a big morning for the enormous snake, Cuddles recovered well from his anesthetic in his 30 degree night quarters and was monitored constantly by the Perth Zoo veterinary team and his dedicated keeper, Brendan McGill.

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