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Veterinarian Practice & General Health Issues Anything to do with veterinarians, health issues, pathogens, hygiene, or sanitation.

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Old 11-12-2017, 07:28 PM   #1
Blocked glottis on snake -any advice urgently welcome

I'm in Fiji (the south pacific country) without specialist reptile vet support, and I've got something going on I've never seen before. ANY opinions, experiences or suggestions would be very welcome.

I have an adult male wild caught endemic Fiji Boa (Candoia bibroni bibroni) who I've had in the same conditions (natural temperature, humidity and light) for more than 8 years without any problems. He's just (along with my other 4 snakes, all in good health) coming out of his winter brumation fast, but hasn't started to eat yet (the others ate 3 days ago).

He seems to have a blockage of his glottis (breathing tube). He's breathing though his nares (nose) OK, but every now and again he goes though quite a violent "fit " of gaping, hissing (very loudly), and rubbing his head upside down. I actually thought he was convulsing the first time. He's not bubbling or clicking, but when I managed to get a good look inside his mouth , his glottis seemed to be blocked, and there was a long strand of white mucous-like material between his glottis and his throat. (see photo)

I managed to clear this out with the aid of a soft chopstick and a baby toothbrush (and a struggle....), and he is resting better today, but his glottis still doesn't seem to be open.

I've never had a previous problem with respiratory infections, and the other snakes seem fine. I don't give them artificial heat, but the weather is warming naturally (right now about 32oC / 85oF ish daytime) and very humid.

Also, probably not relevant, but who knows, when I took him out of the tank he was just beginning to shed (and actually did so as I was handling him). the skin came off fine, including his face, eye-caps and throat, but his eyes are still a bit cloudy and his head a bit pale, so I'm wondering if there's another layer to come (he normally sheds very completely and without problem).

I'm afraid to feed him in case there is still a blockage. What are your opinions of fogging or steaming him? On-line I see people have tried fogging with Veterinary Disinfectant (I don't have a fogger, and not yet sure whether the mammal vets here have appropriate disinfectant), and also steaming with Vicks Vapour rub and Eucalyptus oil in hot water (I do have access to these).

I can also get Baytril but only oral, not injectable, and I'm not happy about sticking a pipette down his throat right now.

Or maybe it's not an infection and there's something else that might cause this which I don't know about?

Any advice would be MUCH appreciated. I'm posting this on 13 Nov 2017, and it feels pretty urgent to me....

Slightly nasty open mouth photo coming up....
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Old 11-12-2017, 07:41 PM   #2
Robert Walker
Wish I could contribute but I've never run up against this before. Closest thing I've seen was ingested wood chip/shaving 'after' feeding, but not your case. Good luck Helen, hopefully someone else has a good suggestion.
Old 11-12-2017, 07:49 PM   #3
Thanks for the response anyway Robert, it helps just to talk it over.

It's definitely not something he has ingested - I originally thought it might be a bit of his shed, but when I swiped with the chopstick it was gooey and mucous like.

I'm trying an on-line vet service, and I'll let you know if that yields anything useful.
Old 11-12-2017, 08:29 PM   #4
Is the inside of their mouths normally black?
Old 11-12-2017, 08:39 PM   #5
Well, that's a very good question - and the answer is I think so. (I don't see it much, there's usually food in the way )

I think it may be related to the individual snake pigmentation - my large female yawns pink, my two other males are noticeably darker inside, but particularly dark in winter when they are cold and not eating much.

Here are pics of of the sides of the mouths when two of them are eating - the pink one is my large female (from another locality) and the darker one is this snake's brother. I'm going to search around for more pics.
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Old 11-12-2017, 08:53 PM   #6
OK, looked around for feeding time photos and yes, indeed, his mouth is normally black inside (the top two pictures), while one of my others (the bottom pic) is totally pink. They are from different islands and also have different skin patterns.

(In case you are wondering, they normally eat 2 week old chicks, but I give them supplementary chicken wings, which is what they are eating in these pictures ).
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Old 11-12-2017, 09:30 PM   #7
Ok if it were normally pink I would have thought that he had some weird mouth infection going on.

At this point I'd cross my fingers and try the Baytril. If you can get Fortaz/Ceftazidime, that antibiotic in combo with Baytril is very effective on bacterial RI's, if that's what he's got going on.
Old 11-12-2017, 09:31 PM   #8
Robert Walker
Originally Posted by Helenthereef View Post
I give them supplementary chicken wings,
Side question: are you warming them in hot water, microwaving them a little or are they simply taking them at room temps?
Old 11-12-2017, 09:31 PM   #9
Thanks Melinda, I'll go and weird out my local mammal vets again..... he doesn't have any other symptoms, but I've never seen an RI.
Old 11-12-2017, 09:34 PM   #10
Robert Walker
Different question: It appears there is some kind of cloth towel in his cage, does that remain in there normally? Do you feed your snakes with the towel in there?

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