Never Leave a Snake Wounded

Never leave a snake wounded. So goes an old Assamese saying. Get it treated, we would say. That’s what vets at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University did when foresters brought an injured five-and-half-feet Indian rock python. The poor reptile was out sunning this winter when a lawnmower’s blades caught it in cold blood—nicked the dorsum, causing a laceration 15-cm-long. The serpent was etherised with Sevoflurane, a gaseous, potent, safe and fast-acting anaesthetic, and a rare surgery was performed. The wound was cleaned, perforated muscles were sutured layer by layer and the skin was apposed in a two-and-half-hour-long procedure. The patient was discharged after 10 days. The hiss is back in the forests of Ponganamkadu in Thrissur.

Poisonous Patient

Here’s a bit of deja vu for the dedicated reader: a serpentine intruder in a house being smacked with a stick by a fearful human, sustaining spinal damage, only to be rescued and taken for treatment. Only this time, the treatment inclu­ded an MRI scan after a veterinarian suspected an injured backbone.

Bombay’s radiologist Ravi Thapar was reported as saying, “This is the first time we have done a scan on a snake. In fact, I had to do a bit of research about a serpent’s anatomy for that.” The reptile in question—a venomous 3-foot bamboo pit viper—was partly paralysed and thus easy to pin down for the scan. It has begun to recover with the help of ‘cold laser treatment’, which “works on the cells and receptors and helps regenerate damaged nerves,” according to veterinarian Deepa Katyal.

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