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Vet removes golf ball from rat snake

  |   April 7, 2012 at 1:11 AM
BEAUFORT, S.C., April 7 (UPI) -- A snake that swallowed a golf ball in Low Country South Carolina has a new lease on life thanks to surgery and a new career in environmental education.

A couple spotted the yellow rat snake trying to cross a road in Beaufort, The Island Packet reported. In the snake's first big break, David Gorzynski and Kim Gundler, who operate Beaufort Kayak Tours, are trained master naturalists.

Dr. Mark Guilloud, a veterinarian who showed up to return a kayak, agreed to perform the surgery.

The procedure took 10 minutes once the snake was anesthetized and was followed by an anxious period when the patient stopped breathing.

Guilloud said he has removed "golf balls, hard balls, socks, blankets, Bert and Ernie -- all the kids' toys" from dogs but the operation was his first on a snake.

The snake is believed to have eaten the ball, a Titleist, while foraging in a chicken coop. The balls are sometimes used to encourage hens.

The Nature Center at the Lowcountry Institute has given the snake a home. The stitches are scheduled for removal in two weeks, and Tony Mills said the snake will then be used to help educate the public on the benefits provided by rodent-eating rat snakes.

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