This juvenile Puff adder (Bitis arietans) was taken to
Mooikloof Companion Animal Centre after an altercation with a cat. Dr Pieter requested our assistance, and the snake was transferred to our facility. (The cat had very long hair and miraculously was not bitten).
The snake had a few lacerations to her face and neck, but we were most concerned about skull and jaw fractures. At first we only stabilised her and the wounds were treated topically. We also administering pain meds and a course of antibiotics. She was battling to eat without assistance (writhing in pain every time she opened her mouth) and we were worried about the movement of her jaw, therefore radiographs were needed to determine the extent of her injuries. With a highly venomous snake, this was no easy feat!
She was sedated and the radiographs confirmed multiple skull fractures and in particular, a dislocated left mandible. Snakes can normally reduce a jaw dislocation, but because of the fractures, she was unable to do so. Dr K anesthetised her via intra-cardiac injection, intubated her and was assisted by Sr Alicia monitoring the anesthetic. Dr Kelsey carefully stitched the wound which effectively held the jaw bone in the correct place. The surgery was a great success and we were hopeful that she would now be able to eat on her own, as before we needed to tube feed her.
She made a full recovery and after two weeks the sutures were removed. Follow-up radiographs were taken and we were happy to note that her fractures were healing. She was now a proper puffy again - with an attitude of note, and feeding successfully on her own! She can now do the rest of her healing in the wild and she was released.
We could not have helped this snake without the expertise of snake handler, Grant Fairley. Thanks so much Grant for always being willing to assist us!
We treat indigenous wildlife free of charge, relying on the community for donations and support.
Pics: Grant Fairley & Ashleigh Pienaar
The team behind the Johannesburg Wildlife Vet Hospital.