Copperhead Snake lives to swim another day

Fig 1: Head of this Copperhead snake was caught in the can

Fig 1: Head of this Copperhead snake was caught in the can

 

Fig. 2: Close up of how it was trapped. Its scales prevent its escape.

Fig. 2: Close up of how it was trapped. Its scales prevent its backwards escape.

 

This Copperhead Snake was very lucky to be found as it was well off the beaten track in a conservation area in the upper Blue Mountains.  It was accidentally seen by an environmentally conscious man who uses the area for recreational purposes, riding his push bike and simply enjoying the environment with his children.

Fig. 3: When removed from the can, the swelling at the site is visible.

Fig. 3: When removed from the can, the swelling at the site is visible.

 

Fig. 4: Another photo of the injury site.

Fig. 4: Another photo of the injury site. The snake is holding the injured part clear of the ground

 

After removal of the can a very large swelling can clearly be seen and strangely the animal is holding the damaged part clear of the box.  Whilst the damage on its dorsal (upper) surface was not as bad as it could have been, underneath the can had cut deeply into him.  It wasn’t clear how much damage had been done. 

The animal was allowed to rest and after 9 days shed his skin which he needed assistance with.  After a couple more days he ate a mouse and 3 days later 2 more.  Two days later they were regurgitated.  This pattern of eating and regurgitating continued.  After a couple of weeks it became apparent that he could only swallow very small prey items – approximately 8 grams only.  A couple of weeks later he shed again.It became apparent that the deep injury caused by the can had healed causing scarring of his oesophagus which was restricting his ability to swallow normal sized prey. 

Fig. 5: The scarring on the ventral surface.

Fig. 5: The scarring on the ventral surface.

We have seen this problem previously, but in this particular case he was still able to swallow prey items so long as they were small enough.  Therefore, he has a good chance of surviving in the wild.  The area he comes from is teeming with frogs, so he should have a good chance of surviving long term.

 

 

He was released back where he came from and immediately headed for the dam where he went for a short swim before heading back up onto the bank.

Fig. 6: On release, making its way towards the dam.

Fig. 6: On release, making its way towards the dam.

Fig. 7: On release, entering the water

Fig. 7: On release, entering the water

Fig. 8: On release, entering the water.

Fig. 8: On release, entering the water.

Fig. 9: And away it swims

Fig. 9: And away it swims

Snakes caught in cans should be carefully checked for possible long term injury before release.

This was a great outcome.

Please click on any photo for an enlarged view

 

Reptile Rescue & Education Service

Blue Mountains

www.reptilerescue.com.au

 

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