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Local vet performs surgery on snake with infected eyes


HILDEN – Dr. Helene VanDoninck has operated on a lot of animals but she had never performed surgery on a snake.

Until now, that is.

A garter snake with eye problems was spotted in the Shubenacadie area and taken to the wildlife park in September. The park then sent him to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which VanDoninck runs.

“He got bitten or cut and infection settled in his eyes,” she said. “They were full of pus and blood.”

She consulted a friend in the U.S. who regularly works with snakes and he provided advice.

On Oct. 3, VanDoninck anesthetized the snake and cut through the clear layer – called a spectacle, which covers the eyes.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “It’s almost like a thin layer of glass; not like skin. I flushed out the disgusting stuff and put antibiotics right in.”

She also used injectable antibiotics to kill infection, and the snake will be given eye drops for a while. He was a little thin when he arrived – though not extremely 20 – but he would have soon died without help.

“He’s much more active but by the time he’s healed it will be too late in the year to let him loose so he’s our special guest for the winter. I’m going to be optimistic and believe he will regain his sight; either way he’s with us for the winter so I’ll be looking for worms, crickets and bugs.”

The snake, about two feet long, is being called Phteven, although his sex is not known.

 

lynn.curwin@tc.tc

Garter snake facts

– Garter snakes can be black, brown, grey or yellowish with lighter stripes or spots along their sides.

– They will swim in both fresh and salt water and are sometimes called water snakes.

– They have live babies, which are greenish-grey and about 10 cm. long, in late summer.

– They can produce a smelly fluid to deter enemies.

– They will bite to protect themselves if picked up but have no fangs or poison.

 

 

 

Kayla Collins photos

Helene VanDoninck recently performed her first surgery on a snake, when a garter snake with infected eyes came to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

 

 

 

 

Until now, that is.

A garter snake with eye problems was spotted in the Shubenacadie area and taken to the wildlife park in September. The park then sent him to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which VanDoninck runs.

“He got bitten or cut and infection settled in his eyes,” she said. “They were full of pus and blood.”

She consulted a friend in the U.S. who regularly works with snakes and he provided advice.

On Oct. 3, VanDoninck anesthetized the snake and cut through the clear layer – called a spectacle, which covers the eyes.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “It’s almost like a thin layer of glass; not like skin. I flushed out the disgusting stuff and put antibiotics right in.”

She also used injectable antibiotics to kill infection, and the snake will be given eye drops for a while. He was a little thin when he arrived – though not extremely 20 – but he would have soon died without help.

“He’s much more active but by the time he’s healed it will be too late in the year to let him loose so he’s our special guest for the winter. I’m going to be optimistic and believe he will regain his sight; either way he’s with us for the winter so I’ll be looking for worms, crickets and bugs.”

The snake, about two feet long, is being called Phteven, although his sex is not known.

 

lynn.curwin@tc.tc

Garter snake facts

– Garter snakes can be black, brown, grey or yellowish with lighter stripes or spots along their sides.

– They will swim in both fresh and salt water and are sometimes called water snakes.

– They have live babies, which are greenish-grey and about 10 cm. long, in late summer.

– They can produce a smelly fluid to deter enemies.

– They will bite to protect themselves if picked up but have no fangs or poison.

 

 

 

Kayla Collins photos

Helene VanDoninck recently performed her first surgery on a snake, when a garter snake with infected eyes came to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

 

 

 

 

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