Ricochet News

Discovered rock python recovering

Sep 12, 2017
Discovered rock python recovering

Late last month, a three metre female Southern African Rock Python (Python natalensis) was brought into Dangerous Creatures Exhibit at the uShaka Village Walk, by local herpetologist, Nick Evans after, the python, named Pippa by the staff, had been spotted lying motionless for nearly a week in a Shongweni storm water culvert by locals.

 According to senior herpetologist, Lesley Labuschagne, the python had probably sought refuge in the concrete culvert which, unlike the natural holes in which pythons would seek refuge, remained cold throughout the days and nights that followed. This led to a debilitating drop in her body temperature, stopping her from being able to move back into a warmer environment.

When she arrived at the rehabilitation facility she was very cold, dehydrated and unresponsive.  “We immediately placed her in a temperature controlled environment and administered antibiotics and rehydration fluids. Over the next few days we were able to gradually increase her body temperature and thankfully her condition started improving,” said Lesley with a note of pride. 

For the next three weeks the python was closely monitored by the herpetologists and animal health team. She started moving about on her own, drinking water and digesting small quantities of food. 

It is anticipated that within the next few weeks she will be given a clean bill of health by uShaka Sea World veterinarian, Francois Lampen, and handed over to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for release.

African Rock Pythons are non-venomous and are the largest snakes in Africa. They are classified as CITES II animals and are on the TOPS (threatened or protected species) list. 

The Shongweni area is an ideal foraging ground for these magnificent snakes as they feed off rodents, hares, monkeys, birds and small antelope.  The main reason for the decline in their numbers is the competition with humans for safe spaces.

“Hopefully she will stay away from storm water culverts in future”, added Labuschagne with a smile!