Emergency Action Saves Yellow Rat Snake

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

At a wildlife hospital like the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), emergency situations can happen at any time. Hospital staff and veterinarians are always on their toes as they never know when an animal in need of help will be brought through the doors.

On November 25, one such situation arrived at the clinic. A yellow rat snake had slithered into a wire rat trap on Sanibel, presumably chasing one of its favorite foods for which it is named. The snake tried to squeeze out of one of the small square openings only to find itself too large and it became trapped.

Thankfully, the snake was found in the trap before it could perish from dehydration or be found by another predator. The individual who found the snake knew exactly what to do. She loaded it into her car, trap and all, and drove it to CROW. When it arrived at the clinic, veterinarians assessed the condition of the snake, called triage, and determined their plan of action to free it from the trap.

“We intubated the snake and maintained it under anesthesia like we would for a surgery,” explains Missy Fox, a certified veterinary technician at CROW. “This helped to keep the snake calm and keep it from wriggling all around while we worked to free it.”

With Fox monitoring the anesthesia, the snake relaxed enough for the veterinarians to get to the wire around its body. They used bolt cutters and pliers to cut and bend back the metal and create a hole large enough to pull the snake out. Aside from some very minor abrasions along its side, the snake was unharmed.

“We gave the snake pain and anti-inflammatory medications and kept it overnight to ensure there was no other signs of injury,” says Fox.

The next day, a check by the veterinarians found the snake was doing well. It was released back to the area it came from so it could continue hunting rats and reduce the need for a man-made trap.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (11/18-11/24):
There were 78 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 17 double-crested cormorants, four brown pelicans, a merlin, a bald eagle, three northern raccoons, a gopher tortoise, and a burrowing owl. Recent Releases include black vulture, an osprey, a big brown bat and two double-crested cormorants. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases!

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to http://www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

Comments (1)

  1. Thanks Crow… Rat snakes are one of the coolest ever – and boy do we need them to help the coyotes control Sanibel’s famous rat and rabbit abundance.

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