Eastern Ratsnake #18-1352

Admission Date: 
June 8, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Augusta County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Swallowed Ceramic Eggs
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On June 7, a farmer in Augusta County found an adult Eastern Ratsnake in a chicken coop, and noticed that two “dummy” ceramic eggs were missing from the coop; ceramic eggs are commonly used to encourage chickens to lay eggs in specific nest boxes. The farmer suspected that the snake had ingested the artificial eggs by mistake and brought the snake to the Center the following day.

Veterinary staff performed a physical examination, finding two firm objects lodged in the snake’s intestinal tract. Radiographs confirmed two hollow objects (likely the indigestible ceramic eggs) that would need to be removed surgically with a procedure known as an enterotomy (cutting open the intestinal tract).  

On June 11, veterinary intern Dr. Ingrid and vet technician Jenna performed the surgery, successfully removing the eggs and suturing closed the incision site– a particularly challenging procedure in snakes due to their long intestinal tracts. Special care was taken to avoid breaking the eggs, which are commonly coated in paint that may be harmful if fully ingested. The surgery lasted about two hours and the snake recovered well from sedation; it was the first enterotomy in a snake that either Dr. Ingrid or Jenna had performed.

Front-desk coordinator Maggie has special interest in reptiles and was invested in the outcome of this particular patient; Dr. Ingrid invited Maggie into the operating room to observe the surgery and take photos of the procedure.

The day after surgery, a complication arose when the snake started to shed its skin; while shedding skin is a normal process, it could have led to retained skin near the incision site. The staff monitored the snake closely and limited handling, and the snake shed its skin without any problems.

Following surgery and a month of recovery, Eastern Ratsnake #18-1352 has been doing well. The staples and sutures closing the surgical site have been adjusted and replaced several times to accommodate the active snake, but the wound appears to be healing. The veterinary staff was excited to find feces in the enclosure, which indicates that the digestive tract is healing well.

The veterinary and rehabilitation staff will continue to monitor the incision site and overall health of the snake.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this injured snake … and all of the patients admitted in 2018. Please help!