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RE: free handling venomoids

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Posted by: EdK at Wed Jun 28 16:55:06 2006  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EdK ]  

Venomoid surgeries are a hot button topic for a lot of people but there is almost as much misinformation being circulated as there is good information.

There are several different types of venomoid surgeries, there are venom gland removals, tubal ligations (aka ductectomies), combined partial gland removal (the half of the gland closest to the venom duct) and tubal ligations and removal of the gland combined with the tubal ligation. You should probably become familar with the differences as they can have different effects and risks on the snake and you.

As to the safety of the snake post surgery, well this depends on who has done the surgery and how it was done. These surgeries can vary from clinically performed with anesthesia, sterile conditions and post operative antibiotics to stick the snake in the fridge and perform the operation on the table. Depending on the skill of the person performing the operation as well as the health of the snake involved, the second type can result in a significant failure of the snake to do well post operatively. In addition, if the person who is performing the surgery is unfamilar with the snake's anatomy and is only performing a tubal ligation they may tie off the trigonal nerve instead of the venom duct. This could then render the snake unable to envenomate prey items for a period of time due to occlusion by scar tissue but eventually being able to pass by the scar tissue thus supplying the anecdotal reports of the snake becoming venomous again. Another possibility to this scenario is that the surgery was never performed on the snake but the purchaser was told it was venomoid to jack up the price of the snake.....

In general, I would not suggest handling venomoid species for a couple of reasons,
1) these are active nervous species and handling can supply a significant amount of stress on the snake. If you are concerned about exercise then provide a very large enclosure for the snake. If you do not overfeed the snake a very large enclosure will allow the snake to get sufficient exercise. Handling and tranfer to areas that are novel to the snake can result in significant stress and possible immunosuppression. (see Health and Welfare of Captive Reptiles (Hardcover) by Clifford Warwick (Editor), F.L. Frye (Editor), J.B. Murphy (Editor) for more information on this topic).
2) even though the snake may no longer possess the ability to inject venom, the fangs can still cause deep puncture wounds. Reptile mouths contain a variety of gram negative bacteria which can act as a significant pathogen in people and the fangs can act as a mechanical injection of these into the tissues.
3) Legally there isn't a distinction between venomoid and hot snakes and if the snakes scares someone or escapes you can be significantly liable for the any damages or fear of the snake. Your homeowner or renter's policy may contain exclusions for problems caused by snakes.

Some thoughts,



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