05 September 2012

But Chester Zoo’s Bali the python is no ordinary patient, and as she measures around 23ft in length, the great snake required a team of zookeepers and vets to carry her in for her health check.

The reticulated python – the longest species of snake in the world – had her eyes covered to keep her calm as she was checked over. Indeed Bali is thought to be the biggest snake in the whole of Europe.

Photos courtesy of Phil Noble/Reteurs and Peter Byrne/Press Association

At the same time, two cardio experts – Rob Shave and Eric Stohr from Cardiff Metropolitan University – took the opportunity to perform an ultrasound scans on the giant snake’s heart.

The team repeated the tests on the zoo’s other python – JF, who measured in a touch smaller at 4.6 metres (15 feet).

These snakes feed on rodents, small mammals and birds, while larger specimens have been known to eat small primates and pigs.

They have sharp teeth which they use to hold their prey before crushing and suffocating them with their body.

Female reticulated pythons are capable of laying between 60 and 100 eggs at a time, which take between 70-90 days to hatch.

They are native to southeast Asia, a region in which Chester Zoo is involved in several key conservation projects looking to save animal and plant species from extinction.