X-ray reveals python's too-hot dinner

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A 12-foot Burmese python swallowed an electric blanket -- electrical cord, control box, and all -- but will probably survive to eat another meal.

The queen-sized blanket somehow got tangled up in the snake's rabbit dinner, owner Karl Beznoska told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "Somehow he was able to unplug the electric cord," Beznoska said. "He at least wasn't hooked up to the power. It might have been pretty warm there."

Beznoska loaded the python, Houdini, into the back of his pickup truck and hauled him to the St. Francis Pet Clinic in Ketchum, ID, where veterinarian Karsten Fostvedt conducted a two-hour operation. Houdini appears to have engineered a great escape -- the prognosis is excellent, Fostvedt told the AP.

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Above and below: x-ray images show the tangle of the blanket's wiring extending through about 8 feet of a python's digestive tract. The surgery to remove it required an 18-inch incision. All images courtesy of St. Francis Pet Center.
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On Friday morning the reptile was at home recovering, and "doing great -- though he won't get to eat for about three weeks," veterinarian technician Heather Williams told AuntMinnie.com. Williams administered the anesthesia for the operation. "I'm sure it wasn't a pleasant experience for him," she added.

Things could have been worse. Specialists at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine said it probably took Houdini about six hours to swallow the blanket and would likely have died without the operation.

Beznoska, a retired ski instructor who now works as a draftsman and carpenter, is from Austria and moved to the resort area in 1965, the AP reported. He has owned Houdini for 16 years and takes him to local schools for show-and-tell.

"He's a good boy -- he's very mellow and very friendly," Beznoska told the Idaho Mountain Express and Guide.

By Eric Barnes
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
July 21, 2006

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