From light bulbs and barbecue tongs, to queen-sized electric blankets, snakes have been recorded accidentally gobbling down a wide variety of inanimate objects. The latest indigestible item to be mistaken for a meal? A right-footed slipper.

A resident of Haigslea in Queensland, Australia awoke last Wednesday to discover that one of his slippers - placed carefully beside his bed the previous evening - was inexplicably absent. A search for the missing footwear turned up an unlikely culprit: a carpet python with a suspiciously slipper-shaped bulge in its belly.

Snake-catching couple Sally and Norman Hill were called to remove the slipper-snatcher. "When we got the snake it was obvious it'd eaten the slipper. We had the spare slipper to measure up against the snake," Sally Hill explained to ABC.

Carpet pythons usually stick to a diet of mammals, so it’s likely that this constrictor mistook the footwear for a rat. "There are lots of mice, possums, and what-not out there,” according to Hill. ”My opinion is a rat or possum crawled all over the slipper, or peed on it, or maybe there was a rat or mice in it and the snake saw it.”

After capture, the python was taken to a veterinary clinic specialising in the care of reptiles and amphibians where x-rays confirmed that it was indeed slipper-laden. "This made for one of the most impressive radiographs I have seen," HerpVet director Dr Josh Llinas wrote on Facebook. When the snake showed no signs that it would regurgitate the foreign object, Llinas made the decision to surgically remove the slipper.

A 20-centimetre incision was made in a zigzag pattern to avoid cutting the snake’s scales. "Then I go in, get the stomach exposed, and then enter the stomach and remove the foreign object," Dr Llinas told ABC.

The python woke up very quickly after the procedure - which lasted about an hour. It was given anti-inflammatories, painkillers and antibiotics and will spend the next few days recovering from the ordeal before being released back into the wild.

Without intervention, the slipper would likely have led to severe complications and ultimately sealed the snake’s fate. ”The slipper would stay in the stomach because it won't digest,” explains Dr Llinas. “And that would lead to some serious problems like stomach diseases and ulcers or infection. That's not uncommon, we see things like that happen.”

HerpVet released a video of the surgery, but be warned, it's a little bit graphic:

Header image: Golgarth