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Snakes are People, Too!

October 11, 2009

It was only 7 p.m. The E.R. was empty. How strange! Then a young 8-month-old brown and tan Doberman girl was rushed in because she had been bitten on the upper right muzzle by a rattlesnake. The snake in question fit in a Zip-Loc sandwich bag because he (or she) was one of the Spring crop of baby Rattlers.

All sass and no finesse. Could’ve injected tons of venom into my patient, or maybe none. Youngsters are uncontrolled like that. Tasia, the inquisitive Dobie, had two little marks by her whiskers, but no swelling.

“How long ago did this happen?”

“Well, Doc, we live out on Rattlesnake Hammock Road and it took us an hour to get here. Happened just before that.”

One hour and no swelling…that means, no venom.

“Tasia’s going to be just fine. We’ll just clean her wounds and get her some antibiotics and painkillers.” (A bite still hurts, and can get infected, even if there was no poison in the bite.)

Now I focused my attention on the Zip Loc. Inside was a 5 inch-long Diamond Back Rattlesnake. It had been bludgeoned with a brick (or so I was told) and feebly twitched in the bag, still alive.

I’m a veterinarian. I just couldn’t see the snake suffer. I felt along its side for its little snakie heart and gave it a shot of euthanasia solution. Then I paid for a general cremation for the snake, just like it was somebody’s pet. I like to think I was setting an example of mindful compassion for the e.r. staff.

The second snakie suffering was a 4 foot-long Black Racer with his head stuck in a Budweiser can, thrashing in the hot sun on the parking lot behind the animal hospital. I brought him into the A.C. and set about determining how to get the exhausted snake’s head out of the can. He (or she) had shoved his head into the can through the flip-top opening and his scales prevented him from backing out of the can. Every time he tried, he cut his skin painfully!

I got some bolt cutters. (Vets usually have them to cut fish hooks, but that’s another story…) I gently cut the opening in the can far enough for the snake to back out if he wanted to. Black Racers are not venomous, but a bite still hurts!

After widening the opening, I set the snake and the can in a cool, dark box and watched to see if he was okay. After a few minutes a small, 3 inch, green frog came walking out of the can, traversing down the length of the snake’s back, like he was on some bridge over the abyss in The Lord of the Rings!

I guess greed got the better of the Racer and he went into the can to have a frog snack. Surprise! He got stuck, and the frog sauntered away unharmed. After a few hours of A.C. and rest, I took the racer to a field by a stream and let him slither away as fast as he could go!

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