Tabloid coverage of Australia's ice epidemic (ice! epidemic!) isn't usually heartwarming. So at first I didn't think this Daily Telegraph story about a crystal meth-addicted snake would bring me joy. Nobody browses the Daily Telegraph to feel joy, and especially not me. So as previously—like when I've been confronted by Daily Telegraph op-eds written by Mark Latham—I clicked on the story expecting to read something tragic. But I was surprised.
See, the two-meter python in question used to belong to some bikers with a methamphetamine lab. Through no real fault of its own, the snake became addicted to ice after coming into constant contact with drug fumes. So based on this information in the story's very clickable headline, I assumed the Tele had grown tired of shaming human drug addicts and had moved on to reptile ones. I was, however, wrong. This is a life-affirming story. Guys, they put the snake in a special snake rehab, and he's going to be okay.
The snake (a representative from Justice Services told me it can't be named "for legal reasons") is being cared for courtesy of a New South Wales prison's wildlife rehabilitation program, where inmates look after animals which have been seized by authorities. The centre's overseer Ian Mitchell told Matthew Benns (the literal editor-at-large of The Daily Telegraph, by the way) that when it first entered rehab, the snake exhibited all the normal symptoms of withdrawal: "He was totally on edge, jittery, slithering, and wanting to strike." Normal pythons, he explained, are fairly lethargic and "just lie around."
It has taken seven months of cold turkey for the snake to fully recover from its ice addiction, but unfortunately its former owners are still yet to face court over the whole meth lab thing. When they're finally sentenced, their former pet will be resettled in the community with responsible, properly-licensed snake owners. Until then, a roster of 14 convicted criminals will be take careful care of it. Mitchell says that both the animals and inmates receive enormous benefit from the wildlife program, which he describes as a "calming environment that can assist with reducing reoffending."
Apparently, the prison wildlife centre sees its fair share of reptiles. Biker gangs are fond of using snakes to protect their weapon and drug stashes, and the centre has dealt with 40 of them over the past year.
Bikers of Australia, please take better care of your pets. Daily Telegraph reporters, you were robbed at the Pulitzers.
Follow Kat on Twitter