In the second of a new monthly pet advice column from the Animals Are Us veterinary practice in Station Road, Hayes, LUCY ASHBY gets to grips with a particularly slippery problem ...
ANY animal can have trouble with pregnancy and birth, but the treatment is a little different when your patient happens to be a 10kg boa constrictor!
Custard was far from her normal sleek self when she came to see us at the Animals Are Us Vets accident and emergency surgery.
We could feel several eggs waiting to be laid and she was showing no sign of wanting to start. We performed X-rays and a scan to establish that Custard was truly pregnant.
Egg binding can happen in any species of reptile for a variety of reasons, including obstruction, exhaustion and problems with husbandry, which may include not having a proper place to build a nest.
As Custard’s owner was experienced with snakes we knew she had been given perfect home care; more work was needed to find out what was wrong.
X-rays revealed what was causing the problem – one oversized egg stopping the other thirteen from coming out.
There was no sign of infection or problems with the eggs so we gave Custard one more chance to give birth normally; an injection of a drug to stimulate contractions. Sadly the next day brought no sign of eggs so we had to give Custard a little more help.
Custard was sedated to relax her muscles and liquid paraffin applied to her vent to make things slippery, but the big egg was refusing to budge and the only way to remove it was to use paracentesis, that is, using a needle to suck out the egg contents while it was still inside Custard, making it much easier to pass. This is possible in snakes as the eggs have a leathery shell, not the hard shell of a bird egg.
After paracentesis of the big obstructive egg, and with little help, Custard managed to pass all 14 eggs.
She is now recovering well at home and looking much slimmer, and of course we are all looking forward to young snakes to be hatched soon.
Animals Are Us Vets at Hayes have an extensive exotic animal clinic, so do not hesitate to call them for any advice, on 020 8848 1818.