Case Study: This Snake Bit Off More than It Could Chew

This lovely wild rat snake was brought to us by a rescue organization after getting itself into quite the predicament. It had a large foreign body in its stomach that it was unable to pass. The snake was active and alert and otherwise was in good spirits, so surgical removal of the mystery object was planned for the same day.

Rat snake with a large foreign object stuck in its body

Curiosity over whether the object was a golf ball or some sort of artificial egg led us to perform a radiograph to get a better look at what we were dealing with. The object was definitely egg-shaped, though clearly not natural, as these snakes often eat eggs in nature successfully.

Xray of snake showing large egg-shaped object inside

The rat snake was prepped for surgery in standard sterile fashion and fluids were administered subcutaneously. It had developed ulceration of the skin over the egg on the ventral body wall, likely due to rubbing itself against something repeatedly in an effort to reduce its pain.

Snake prepped for surgery

An incision was made through the skin. The ventral wound was explored and the dead tissue removed.

Snake surgery begins

The stomach was entered via a second incision. A large ceramic egg was carefully extracted and the stomach wall evaluated and found intact and free of muscle necrosis.

Following removal of egg the air sac of the lung could inflate fully. The snake will certainly be breathing easier now! The stomach wall was surgically closed.

Suturing closed the muscle layer of a snake

The skin and muscle layers were closed as smoothly as possible after the removal of all necrotic tissue.

Suturing closed the skin layer of a snake

The snake went back to the rescue after recovering from anesthesia and will be given antibiotics by injection, medications for pain management, and a safe, clean environment to heal fully. It will be tube-fed small amounts and then only given very small prey items during this process, as the stomach cannot expand much due to sutures at the removal site.

Snake recovering from foreign body removal surgery

We know this snake is grateful to the rescue for saving it from a dire fate, and we are happy to have been able to use our skills to give it a new lease on life. We hope it doesn’t encounter any more imitation eggs if and when it is returned to nature!


Exotic Vet Care Circle

About Us

Our exotic animal hospital is dedicated exclusively to the care of birds, exotic small mammals, reptiles, and even fish! We can offer everything your pet needs for a healthy and happy life, from wellness care and grooming to diagnostics and dentistry, but we can also provide emergency care during our opening hours, along with more specialized treatment for referred patients.