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Old 10-26-2004, 10:45 PM   #1
4 foot copperhead

She is a southern/northern intergrade from central Alabama. We taped her at 47 inches, but you never get them to straighten out, so I estimate her to be about 41 or 42. She scaled at 1 pound and 11 ounces, and I think she will go over 2 pounds in the spring when we put them back on a normal feeding schedule. She is a brilliant addition to our breeding stock and I am not actively seeking a large male to pair her with.

Old 10-27-2004, 03:05 AM   #2
Nice snake. On that last photo, please do be careful about holding vipers up at that steep an angle by such a small portion of the tail. It's not as big a risk for a snake like that as it would be for a heavier bodied animal, but it is still a risk and can result in injury to the animal if it struggles at that moment. Elapids tolerate that type of tailing just fine, but viperids are awfully fragile and can more easily self-inflict restraint injuries just by jerking around while held in the wrong position.

Also their internal organs make some really disquieting physical shifts depending on the angle they are being held at. When we monitor the heartbeat of a viper patient in the clinic and turn it at various angles for veterinary exam, the heart does a surprising amount of sliding around depending on gravity. It's not very well anchored in there, which is to be expected in a terrestrial snake that never evolved to cope with being at any other angle than belly down. So basically when you turn these guys upside down on their heads, you're sliding their internal organs around.

There is no immediate indication that this does any harm to the animal. But their bodies were really not designed to cope with this particular type of stress. I don't know for sure, but my guess is that if it was repeated too often it might have the potential to cause some harm. Anyhow it gives me the creeps to know that I'm sliding a snake's internal organs around if I tail it at too steep an angle, so I don't do that. Most elapids and all arboreals are immune to this effect; their hearts don't move more than a few scales no matter how you hold them.

If you want an accurate measurement on a snake, try this: gently press the animal down into a soft foam pad using a thin sheet of clear glass or plastic. Quickly draw a line on the glass from head to tail in grease pencil, tracing right down the snake's backbone.

We normally get measurements under sedation while we are doing other veterinary procedures, and those are the most accurate. But that has to wait until the snake actually needs vet care since it's not a great idea to drug an animal just to measure it. The grease pencil maneuver works second best.

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