Venomous snake restraint: Veterinary procedures on tubed snakes

Most scientific and veterinary procedures may be performed while the snake is humanely restrained in a tube. It is particularly easy to give oral medications to a venomous snake which is secured in a restraint tube, as shown in this article.

A short tube is used so that the remainder of the body can be grasped with bare hands or coiled in a pillowcase for better control. The short tube can be introduced over the snake's head using long hemostats. Some snakes may need to be briefly restrained with tongs, gloves or pinning before the tube can be successfully slipped over the head.

This blacktail rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus) is being given an injection of Lidocaine, a local anesthetic, before having an infected fang sheath drained and irrigated. Note that the flexible plastic tube is being squeezed slightly so that it further restricts movement of the animal's head during this procedure.

This Eastern diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus) is being intubated with an endotracheal tube for general anesthesia. Its mouth was opened with an avian speculum, a very useful tool for conducting mouth exams in snakes as well as birds. A sample is being taken for cytology with the swab.

Because pit vipers have a poorly anchored occipital condyle and minimal supporting musculature in this area, they are particularly vulnerable to spinal injury when grasped behind the head. Chemical restraint that includes analgesia (pain relief) is another humane restraint option especially when extensive, stressful or painful procedures must be performed.


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