View Full Version : Snake surgery 101

Dr Alan
06-15-2007, 08:23 PM
As many of you know, I am basically active on three forums: Pangea, Alex Hue, and Allen Repashy's board. My apologies for those of you who have seen this but I'm really not sure just how many of you all visit these places.

Anyway..., for anyone interested.


Brood corn snake (look in the jar). Are they still Elaphe spp? Deposited 25 eggs a month ago. Clearly retained one. No response to calcium other then to get the egg to move an inch or so closer to her vent. What to do?

What follows is a sort of snapshot surgical exposition - a visual record if you will, of the removal of a retained egg from the oviduct of this poor girl.

Basic setup with a board for taping down and maintaining the animal in a stable position. This girl is around 5 feet, so we needed a looong board.


The induction chamber. This expensive piece of equipment is constructed with the finest materials, in this case a two-gallon parrot food container with a modified lid. We typically use sevoflurane for induction, followed by isoflurane for maintenance of anesthesia. I was unable to intubate this particular snake, even with our smallest Cole tube, so she was maintained with a mask (a modified syringe casing) flowing the gas to her.


Taped down, ready for surgery.


Incision through the skin, exposing the caudal oviduct.


Here's the egg.



And closing the oviduct.



Closing the skin. This is unforgiveably out-of-focus, but remember that I was cutting and closing and not photographing.


I suggested that the owner give her a year off and not rebreed her until 2009. In similar situations, I have had colubrids go on to reproduce successfully after this kind of surgical intervention.

I really enjoy this sort of thing. It's a break in the routine and a challenge from what I do every day and my staff gets excited and sort of "turbocharged" when something like this comes along. I won't assert that they devote more care and attention to these critters then they do to the next dog spay on the surgery list, but honest-to-God, I think they do.[/

06-15-2007, 08:35 PM
Thats because dogs are dogs, and snakes are awesome.

06-15-2007, 10:09 PM
Awesome pictures Dr. Alan, I would die to have a job like yours :) . Thanks for sharing them

06-16-2007, 12:00 AM
Really Nice Post Dr. Alan, very informative :D

06-16-2007, 12:30 AM
Thats because dogs are dogs, and snakes are awesome.

Haha, couldn't have said it better myself!
(but I love dogs too ;) hehe)

Thanks for sharing that Dr. Alan.. absoloutley fascinating!

06-16-2007, 01:44 AM
Great pics! I need to remember to take more pics at work...The last snake I had with a retained egg was a king, but it was quite close to the vent, had been less than a week, and fluids, calcium and a little ky did the trick (though the owner was willing to go to surgery).

have you tried red rubber caths to intubate? I intubated a rat snake a bit smaller than that with one (though I can't remember what size) to repair his broken jaw, and have used them for leos, etc. Not that it really matters that much as long as they stay asleep:) syringe case works well!

What vet school did you go to? MSU here:)


06-16-2007, 02:47 AM
Oooh, I would love to be in on a surgery like that. Hopefully I'll get to, I have an externship at UGA in August...

06-16-2007, 07:11 AM
Fascinating pics. Thanks for sharing them!

06-16-2007, 08:29 PM
Oooh, I would love to be in on a surgery like that. Hopefully I'll get to, I have an externship at UGA in August...

Excellent! You will have a great time with HD! He's hilarious, and of course knows his stuff (as does his wife, and the rest of them there).

About a month ago, Genevieve came to do an externship with us:) We had a lot of fun, and had some pretty cool cases in while she was here. (we're 50% exotics).