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This chapter provides the need-to-know information on snakes:

  • Biology
  • Husbandry
  • Handling and restraint
  • Diagnostic approach
  • Common conditions
  • Supportive care
  • Anaesthesia and analgesia
  • Common surgical procedures
  • Euthanasia
  • Drug formulary.

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16.1 Commonly kept pet snakes. Boa constrictor. Green tree python. Eastern garter snake. (Courtesy of J. Chuzi.)
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16.3 Probing depth in this male Asian ratsnake is 10 ventral scales (*).
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16.4 A vivarium suitable for a ground-dwelling snake. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission.
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16.5 Normal appearance of spectacle prior to shedding in a Persian ratsnake.
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16.6 The preferred method for handling a snake is to control the head, whilst supporting its bodyweight.
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16.8 Right lateral radiographs of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems of a common boa. 1 = Trachea; 2 = Heart; 3 = Lung; 4 = Spine and ribs. X = Air sac. (Reproduced from
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16.9 DV radiograph of a gravid grey-banded kingsnake with three eggs.
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16.10 DV radiograph of vertebral osteomyelitis in a kingsnake. Note the combination of proliferative and osteolytic changes of the spine.
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16.11 Right lateral radiograph of LRI disease in a Burmese python. X = Loculated pockets of exudates in the air sac. (Reproduced from .)
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16.12 Right lateral radiograph of a juvenile corn snake with an intussusception at the ileocolic junction (1) secondary to nematodiasis. Barium was administered in a retrograde fashion via the cloaca (2) and only a scant amount advanced beyond the obstruction. (Reproduced from .) Necropsy, demonstrating telescoping of the ileum (1) into colon (2).
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16.13 Echocardiogram (B-mode, right long-axis view) of a normal indigo snake. AO = Right aorta; PA = Pulmonary artery; PVC = Posterior vena cava; RA = Right atrium; VC = Ventricular chamber.
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16.14 Ultrasonogram of developing follicles in a Solomon Island boa.
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16.15 Cloacoscopy demonstrating appearance of coprodeum and junction with rectum in a green tree python after reduction of a prolapsed cloaca. Inflammatory debris is visible at the 10 o’clock position.
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16.16 Restraint with transparent plastic tubes is useful for blood collection and radiography.
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16.17 Venepuncture of the ventral coccygeal vein in a milk snake. (Reproduced from .)
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16.20 Paralysis and loss of righting reflex in an Amazon tree boa with IBD.
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16.21 Fungal dermatitis in an Asian ratsnake with CANV infection. The section of skin has an overlying crust of cell debris, keratin and serum, supporting fungal hyphae (arrowheads). H&E stain; original magnification x40. (Courtesy of D. Reavill.)
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16.22 A tick attached to the interscalar skin on a royal python. (Reproduced from .)
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16.23 Embryonated ovum from an Asian ratsnake Trematode fluke egg from an Asian ratsnake Note the single operculum. oocysts from a green trinket snake.
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16.24 DV radiograph of the skull of a boa constrictor with osteomyelitis of the rostral aspect of the left maxilla. Note the osteolysis and associated soft tissue swelling.
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16.25 Right lateral radiograph of a constipated Burmese python that had been maintained at suboptimal temperatures. (Reproduced from .)
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16.26 Cloacal prolapse in an emerald tree boa.
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16.27 Hypopyon and cellulitis in a green tree python. Note the opaque appearance of the spectacle. Flushing of subspectacular space with sterile saline in an anaesthetized green tree python.
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16.28 Transcutaneous aspiration of a retained egg in a pine snake.
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16.29 Prolapsed hemipenis in a boa constrictor. (Reproduced from )
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16.30 Second-degree burns on a royal python. The healing skin is visible during shedding.
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16.31 Drainage of exudate from an infected musk gland in an indigo snake. The tail is to the left.
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16.32 Subcutaneous mass on a trinket snake. Cytology of a needle aspirate demonstrating lymphoblasts. New methylene blue stain; original magnification x100 with oil immersion.
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16.33 Intubated garter snake, connected to a mechanical ventilator which is utilizing isoflurane and oxygen. Note the circulating warm water pad beneath the snake.
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16.34 A carbon dioxide laser has been used to incise the skin, muscle and oviduct to expose the retained eggs in a 100 flower ratsnake. Note the absence of haemorrhage when using the laser. An exposed egg is gently lifted from the oviduct.
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