Your vet may need to hospitalise your snake either for a short period of a day or two whilst investigations are underway or for longer periods whilst treatment is undertaken.
We have a designated exotics room (our ‘hot ward’) which contains facilities to optimise your snake’s environment, providing the conditions essential to recovery. As with all reptiles, snakes are ectothermic, or cold- blooded, relying entirely on environmental conditions and warmth to drive their metabolism.
Correct environment is the most influential factor in raising a healthy happy snake.
Whilst in hospital you snake and it’s environment are frequently monitored and treatments are provided by our team of British and Australian qualified veterinary staff.
We carry a large selection of food items. If however your snake has unusual dietary preferences that your vet still sees as suitable you may be asked to bring some in for the duration of its stay.
We recommend health checks for your newly acquired snakes and, from then on, yearly health checks.
Our health checks aim to create awareness of optimum feeding and home care as well as diagnose andtreat any existing health problems early in the disease process.
Our health checks include a full physical examination where your vet will examine your snake from nose to tail for outward signs of disease. At additional cost further tests are available such as;
You will be asked a series of important questions about your snake including:
It is a good idea for you (or your representative in the consultation) to have thought about these issues and checked that you know as many details as possible before your visit.
Husbandry is essentially the ‘care’ that you provide for your snake and includes housing, bedding (substrate), hides (caves, plants etc.), heating and lighting.
Each species of snake (and there are approximately 3000 recorded) has very specific husbandry needs and it is important that you know these requirements. Don’t worry, we can help!
If you don’t know the species the vet can help you identify in the consultation. If it is an unusual species we may have to take some photos and do some research after the consultation.
The vast majority of problems we see are related to problems with husbandry. Areas you need to consider, and which can be discussed further with your vet are:
Housing – Is he/she tree dwelling, a desert species, ground dwelling, a water snake?
Substrate – this is the ‘bedding’ used. Some types can look nice but actually be quite irritating or even poisonous to your snake. Your snake may even eat bedding material which can cause internal blockages. This is something we see quite often.
Hides – most snakes do not like being out in the open or exposed. They need to be able to choose from a selection of hides in areas of appropriate temperature and humidity. If they cannot hide/rest then this can lead to stress associated and reproductive diseases.
Heating – Snakes are ectothermic; they are almost completely incapable of generating body heat and require appropriate environmental temperatures to achieve body temperatures necessary for metabolism (movement, digestion). A range of temperatures (the preferred optimum temperature zone or POTZ) is desirable so that your snake can chose a comfortable area. Again, it is important to know the type of snake you have in order to determine what temperature range to provide.
Lighting – Diurnal snakes (those active during daylight) need exposure to full spectrum UV lighting (UVA = 400-315nm, UVB= 315-280nm) to support vision and crucial physiological processes such as calcium absorption. Not all UV bulbs are created equally – recent studies have shown that many bulbs on the market do not meet minimum requirements for UV emission. We recommend regular replacement of UV bulbs, every 6 months, as well as monitoring of UV output with a UV meter if possible (we have one, your bulb can be checked during the consult)
Humidity – Is you snake from a desert or rainforest environment? Humidity requirements will vary drastically. Inappropriate levels can effect hydration, skin health and shedding.
Again, this subject is very species dependent.
Frequency of feeding is very important as snakes are often overfed in captivity. Young, growing snakes may need feeding every 2-3 days, small to medium adults weekly, and very large species as little as 4-5 times per year! Ask your vet to suggest an appropriate feeding schedule for your snake.
Captive diets often need supplementation to provide balanced nutrition (for example, calcium and vitamin D3). This can be discussed in detail during your consultation – it is important to understand that, whilst supplementation is often necessary, it needs to be done under veterinary guidance as overdoses are possible and potentially very serious.
Food items used depend on what species of snake you have. The items need to be of good quality and free from disease.
We usually do not recommend feeding of live prey for many reasons, one of which being the potential for injuries to your snake, caused by live prey items such as rats and mice. There are also welfare considerations for the poor prey!
Yes, it is possible for your snake to get fat!
In fact, it is quite common for snakes in captivity to be overweight owing either to being fed too much,too often or simply eating the wrong type of food items.
The good news is we can help you with advice to try and get your snake in more appropriate condition.
To help avoid obesity issues we recommend regular weighing and measuring of your snake so that your vet can determine his/her BODY CONDITION SCORE – that is, a quantitative assessment of weight to size and body fat to muscling) This can be done during the physical examination.
Knowing the sex of your snake is important – it can have a big influence on how you need to care for him/her and well as determining certain disease process he/she is susceptible to (for example female snakes developing follicular stasis or egg binding)
The sex can usually be determined fairly easily at the clinic. Your vet can safely, cleanly and effectively determine sex using a technique called probing. A specifically designed metal probe is inserted in the vent (the hole through which poop is passed) and by doing this your vet will be able to determine whether you have a boy or a girl. This whole procedure can be completed without sedation and whilst you wait.