Clinic Stories

Back From the Dead – Part 1

As his snake grew, Mr. N decided a larger enclosure was in order. He placed his 6 foot boa constrictor in it's new home and it soon wedged into a gap in the back of the cage. His front third made it through but then the snake stuck and tried to back out. The snake twisted and turned, went forward and back causing deep wounds. After 45 minutes of disassembling, Mr. N finally freed the snake and brought it to our office.

The snake had extensive injuries with multiple, severe lacerations. We anesthetized it and began closing the wounds. After 20 minutes the tech thought the snake stopped breathing. It is hard to assess breathing in a snake so we put it on room air and continued suturing. When we finished there was still no sign of movement so I kept the snake on a heating pad in a box by my desk and watched. With no sign of life for over an hour I called Mr. N to tell him the snake had died.

As death can be so hard to determine in reptiles, I kept the snake by my desk and continued to check on it. Another 20 minutes passed and I thought I saw the tongue move. Yes, sure enough, it moved again, then some muscle movement and finally a deep breath. I called to report that in fact the snake was not dead. Mr. N picked it up, grateful that I had given him false information.

Responding to the publication of his obituary Mark Twain said, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

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