Figure 1 Snake
burn wound victim. This snake was euthanased (put down) due to
the poor prognoses of recovery. It had extensive burn wounds in
the facial area, the inner lining of the mouth was severely
damaged and both the corneas were burnt.
Burn wounds are almost always serious and most of these
snakes will die, especially without medical intervention. Snake
burn victims should always be assessed by and treated under the
supervision of an experienced reptile friendly veterinarian.
Although the treatment period can vary between weeks to months,
conservative or intensive medical treatment will be life saving
in most cases.
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Medical treatment is aimed at two major things. The first is
to keep these snakes alive (supportive and intensive treatment)
while the healing process takes place and the second is to help
the healing process along (conservative treatment).
Intensive treatment includes giving life saving fluids and
antibiotics. Supportive treatment includes force feeding those
that are anorexic (not eating). Snakes that need intensive and
supportive treatment are usually hospitalized and carries a poor
prognoses (poor change to recover or survive).
Snakes with low degree burn wounds, with an adequate appetite
and habitus, which are not dehydrated, or those who survived it
through the critical stages are- or can be send home for
conservative treatment. This will include applying topical
antibiotic ointment to the wounds and regular antiseptic baths
with regular veterinary checkups.
Although it is sometimes difficult to instigate pain
medication, some patients might get some while still in
All snake burn wound victims should only be handled if
necessary. They should be isolated and kept in a clean, dry
environment with the recommended temperature and humidity range.
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Tissue damage, especially nervous tissue damage can be a
serious complication. A lot of the snakes with burns in the
facial area become blind due to corneal damage. In these cases
the mouth and tongue can also sustain serious non-curable
Dysectysis (abnormal shedding) or anecdysis (no shedding) is a very common burn wound complication. Because
these cases take very long to heal there is always the chance
for sloughing during this period. Luckily the shedding will also
help to get rid of old damaged skin and some tissue scars. Most
of these snakes must be aided in the shedding process during the
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"If you think I should add more
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Last updated 20 December 2008 by Renier Delport
remember only to buy healthy animals from reputable pet shops
and breeders. Make sure to buy animals that are captive bred in
your own country and that it is not illegally imported or caught
from the wild."
& Amphibian Quarantine
How To Rehydrate A Snake
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Introduction | Medical
Treatment | Complications | Related
Topics | References |