When Dr Leah Bonnette of the North Nowra Veterinary Hospital on NSW's South Coast receives after-hours calls, she usually doesn't know what to expect.
But when she got the call a couple nights ago to help a pet Woma python which had swallowed a metre-long snake hook, she was definitely taken by surprise.
The yellow snake, named Lilith, twirled itself around the hook while her owner was cleaning her tank. Her owner left to get feed, thinking it would help Lilith unravel from the hook.
Yet when she came back, the slithering serpent had managed to swallow the entire hook!
"It did manage to swallow quite a long hook, it was about a metre long," Dr Bonnette said.
"It took up more than half of the snake's body so it was in a bit of discomfort. We decided we couldn't leave it overnight and that it had to be taken out ASAP."
This was Dr Bonnette's first time operating on a snake.
"It was my first time having to do that, it was a little bit daunting. It's definitely the weirdest after hours call I've ever had!" Dr Bonnette said.
Dr Bonnette and her nurse, Amy Lyons, threaded the hook through the snake's body, likening it to "threading the string back through your track pants".
"We were holding the hook so we could handle it through the snake's belly, so we could thread it up and out of the snake," said Dr Bonnette.
"It took us about an hour to do that."
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To avoid surgery, Lilith the snake was anaesthetised instead of cut open. While Dr Bonnette felt apprehensive about helping the pet python, she was confident with her veterinary nurse by her side.
"I was a little bit apprehensive having never done that. But the nurse, Amy, was a really instrumental part of helping me. She's really experienced with a lot of reptile knowledge," said Dr Bonnette.
"I think that's one of the most interesting parts of our job, doing different things all of the time. You're always learning and it's never boring."
After the hook was removed from Lilith, she stayed at the North Nowra Veterinary Hospital overnight. The python went home the next day and is reportedly "thriving" and moving around happily.