Luckily for this gopher snake, otherwise known as a bull snake, an observant and caring resident sensed something was amiss after seeing the snake twice within ten days with a large, spherical lump halfway down its slender body. The first time she spotted the snake in her yard, she thought that it just looked well fed. But, after seeing the snake a second time with the lump in the same position and noticing some discoloration and breakdown of the skin, she called Tucson Wildlife Center. Due to the possible severity of the situation — and the late hour of the call — TWC advised her to immediately take the snake to our veterinarians at Civano Animal Hospital and Emergency Center.
Upon examination, a firm lump could be seen and felt in the snake’s abdomen and a radiograph showed a round, opaque object the size and shape of a golf ball. Even with an expandable gastrointestinal tract, a snake cannot digest and break down a golf ball. Eventually the blockage would cut off the snake’s blood and oxygen supply, forcing it to endure a prolonged, painful death.
Dr. Roth and Dr. Juhl, surgeons and owners of Civano, performed emergency surgery on the snake to remove the golf ball. The surgery was successful, and the snake was transferred to TWC for rehabilitation. Our reptile patient’s incision site is healing well, and we are hopeful for a full recovery and release back to the wild. Thank you to our veterinarians and citizen finder for their quick action that saved this animal!
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