Dystocia in a snake

19 Dystocia in a snake


Although many herpetologists keep snakes for breeding, it is not uncommon for owners to retain a single animal of one species. Unlike some other taxonomic groups, female snakes may undergo reproductive activity and produce (infertile) eggs without necessarily contacting a male. Similarly, mating with a fertile male does not always ensure reproductive success. The cues for such activity are often environmental.

Clinical Examination

Corn snakes are relatively easy to handle, and a complete clinical examination was possible. The findings were:


As discussed in other cases, anorexia is a common presenting sign in reptiles, with many possible aetiologies. The main differentials considered for anorexia in this case were:

Case Work-Up

The history did not suggest obvious husbandry or dietary inadequacies that may have predisposed to disease. Apart from the obvious loss of body condition, the physical examination did not reveal any significant findings.

Haematology and biochemistry

A blood sample was taken by cardiocentesis to perform a general health profile, investigating for signs of generalized infection or inflammation as well as renal or hepatic disease (Table 19.1). Although a few parameters were outside the normal ranges reported for corn snakes, none were significantly abnormal. A relative heteropenia was present, but the total white cell count was within normal limits and white cell morphology was normal on microscopy. Often poikilocytosis is noted with anorexia, but was not present in this case. Elevations in calcium and phosphorus are sometimes associated with reproductive activity.

Sep 3, 2016 | Posted by in SMALL ANIMAL | Comments Off on Dystocia in a snake

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