A Queensland family were startled to find a carpet python with more than 500 ticks on its body in their backyard pool.
Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison, who was called to remove the animal, says it's the worst infestation he's ever seen.
"It was the usual call, 'it's in my yard and I'm worried about my dog being eaten', they had a little poodle but when I got there it was 'Jesus!'," he told AAP on Friday.
"I've been a snake catcher since 1994 and the most I've ever seen before is 20 or 30 ticks on an eastern brown and when I saw this I couldn't believe the parasite burden."
Snakes found with ticks on them isn't uncommon, Mr Harrison said.
"A carer on Stradbroke Island found a snake with 100 ticks on it and a bloke in Sydney had a diamond python with 200 but this blows it out the water with 511," he said.
The tick-riddled python had jumped into the Coolangatta pool in an attempt to drown the parasites, he said.
The python, which Mr Harrison named Nike after the sport brand's swoosh or tick symbol, was taken to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treatment, where the vets removed 511 ticks.
The animal had lost a considerable amount of blood and will stay at the sanctuary for rehabilitation.
Snakes often pick up ticks from prey or logs, Mr Harrison said.
"My theory is wildlife live in harmony with parasites and as soon as something is compromised, like they get stressed or injured or sick, then the parasites can get the better of the animal," he said.
Australian Associated Press