Daniel Wilfred hopes to focus his work on exotic animal medicine.

When Daniel Wilfred, a veterinary student at Indonesia's Gadjah Mada University, found out he would be spending four weeks working in Bali, he took to Facebook for travel recommendations. What he got instead was an urgent call to save a reticulated python that had been slashed by locals when it slithered onto their property. 

"Field work has always been my passion," he says. "But to be honest every time I get a case it is still pretty unnerving!"

He was contacted by Peter Nicholson of the Bali Reptile Rescue (BRR), who had seen Wilfred's Facebook post and hoped he would be able to help the injured python. Both Wilfred and his house-mate Dr Daryl Lum rushed to the centre to assess the situation. The large snake had suffered five cuts of varying depth ... and though bleeding was minimal, two of the cuts had scraped the animal's vertebrae.

Without the proper equipment handy, the team was forced to make do with what was available at the centre. "Conditions in the field are rarely ideal," explains Wilfred. "It took us about an hour to [stitch the lacerations] ... because the needle I was using was smaller than my finger, and without forceps and a needle holder [available] it was hard to handle!" 

Unfortunately, this is a common situation for the snakes of Indonesia – one that the BRR team encounters often (check out more snake rescues in Little Adventures, Big Planet). But  it was this chance to make a difference in situations where humans and wildlife clash that attracted Wilfred to studying there. "I lived in Adelaide as a child and my parents always took me to visit zoos and farms ... I developed an understanding that [where] we 'use' animals, we have a responsibility for their welfare." 

Wilfred hopes to see the introduction of classes about endemic species in the area to help raise awareness and reduce human-wildlife conflict. "Snakes aren't always dangerous," he says. "[This kind of teaching] could prevent so much misunderstanding between humans and wildlife."

Sutures, water and a recommended antibiotic later, Wilfred's impromptu patient appears to be recovering in the meantime. He suspects the python was looking to beat the heat when it roamed into the yard. "Snakes rarely come into human territory unless forced by deforestation, climate change or [the temptation of food]," he says, adding that the best thing to do if you find yourself face to face with an unwanted reptilian visitor is to call the local animal rescue.

Image: Daniel Wilfred
snake-cut 2-2014-11-6
Image: Daniel Wilfred
Image: Daniel Wilfred

Top header image: Steve Wilson/Flickr