Site Index



Snake Injury Diseases

Trauma

Burns: Snakes commonly sustain serious burns when they contact unprotected or malfunctioning heat lamps or other heat sources (including hot rocks). Interestingly, snakes tend not to move away from the heat source inflicting the injury. This makes the wound considerably more serious. Medical treatment (including injectable antibiotics and periodic wound dressings) is required in these cases. Surgery may be necessary to minimize the disfiguring effects of such injuries. These injuries are easily avoidable. Periodically check all heating appliances to make certain they are functioning properly and that they are "snake proof".

Rat/Mouse Attack: Sometimes a live mouse or rat turns the tables on a snake and injures the snake while fighting for its life (the dinner becomes the diner). Veterinary attention should be sought for serious bite wounds.

Rostral Abrasions: One of the unfortunate consequences of captivity is injury to the captive animal from repeated attempts to escape. Snakes tend to push and rub their noses against the walls of their enclosure as they move about in search of a means to escape. This constant trauma initially damages the scales and skin of the nose (rostrum). If the trauma continues, deep ulceration of the rostrum with subsequent deformity may result. Rostral abrasions are equally likely with enclosures made of glass or wire mesh. Prevention of this problem is difficult, but adequate visual security (hiding places) and other additions to the enclosure (artificial plants, branches, etc.) help minimize it. Further, a visual barrier of bark paint or plastic film placed on or along the loser 3-4 inches of the enclosure's walls often inhibits pacing and rubbing.

Abscesse

Abscesses are a common form of bacterial infection in snakes. They can be external and/or internal in location. External abscesses most often result from bite wounds (usually inflicted by live prey animal) and other injuries (especially puncture wounds) to the skin. Internal abscesses may be located within one or more organs and/or within the body cavity. Snakes rarely produce liquid pus. Instead, their pus is generally cheesy in consistency. This makes treatment with antibiotics difficult because these drugs cannot penetrate this relatively solid material. External abscesses can be surgically opened and flushed by a veterinarian. A specimen of pus can be submitted to a laboratory for bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity testing. The snake can be treated with the appropriate antibiotic by injection, and the abscess cavity treated with topical antibiotics. Abscesses within the body are not equally accessible for treatment. A blood workup and/or radiographs (x-rays) may be necessary to confirm their presence. Though surgery may be necessary under certain circumstances, long-term antibiotic therapy by injection and appropriate supportive care are the treatments most likely to be employed by the veterinarian.

Trauma:

Burns: Snakes commonly sustain serious burns when they contact unprotected or malfunctioning heat lamps or other heat sources (including hot rocks). Interestingly, snakes tend not to move away from the heat source inflicting the injury. This makes the wound considerably more serious. Medical treatment (including injectable antibiotics and periodic wound dressings) is required in these cases. Surgery may be necessary to minimize the disfiguring effects of such injuries. These injuries are easily avoidable. Periodically check all heating appliances to make certain they are functioning properly and that they are "snake proof".

Rat/Mouse Attack: Sometimes a live mouse or rat turns the tables on a snake and injures the snake while fighting for its life (the dinner becomes the diner). Veterinary attention should be sought for serious bite wounds.

Rostral Abrasions: One of the unfortunate consequences of captivity is injury to the captive animal from repeated attempts to escape. Snakes tend to push and rub their noses against the walls of their enclosure as they move about in search of a means to escape. This constant trauma initially damages the scales and skin of the nose (rostrum). If the trauma continues, deep ulceration of the rostrum with subsequent deformity may result. Rostral abrasions are equally likely with enclosures made of glass or wire mesh. Prevention of this problem is difficult, but adequate visual security (hiding places) and other additions to the enclosure (artificial plants, branches, etc.) help minimize it. Further, a visual barrier of bark paint or plastic film placed on or along the loser 3-4 inches of the enclosure's walls often inhibits pacing and rubbing.

Abscesses: Abscesses are a common form of bacterial infection in snakes. They can be external and/or internal in location. External abscesses most often result from bite wounds (usually inflicted by live prey animal) and other injuries (especially puncture wounds) to the skin. Internal abscesses may be located within one or more organs and/or within the body cavity. Snakes rarely produce liquid pus. Instead, their pus is generally cheesy in consistency. This makes treatment with antibiotics difficult because these drugs cannot penetrate this relatively solid material. External abscesses can be surgically opened and flushed by a veterinarian. A specimen of pus can be submitted to a laboratory for bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity testing. The snake can be treated with the appropriate antibiotic by injection, and the abscess cavity treated with topical antibiotics. Abscesses within the body are not equally accessible for treatment. A blood workup and/or radiographs (x-rays) may be necessary to confirm their presence. Though surgery may be necessary under certain circumstances, long-term antibiotic therapy by injection and appropriate supportive care are the treatments most likely to be employed by the veterinarian.