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Need Help with Gartersnake with Eye Problems

Discussion in 'Garter & Water snakes' started by jplacyk, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. jplacyk

    jplacyk New Member

    I am a biology professor that studies reptiles and amphibians and one of my colleagues has been breeding snakes for over 30 years. Unfortunately, he likes breeding corn snakes and gartersnakes to get unusual color morphs, which often requires a lot of inbreeding. When he has a snake that is born with defects he tends to sacrifice them rather than deal with what he has created. My wife and I decided to start caring for two of these defects. They are albino checkered gartersnakes and they both have buggy eyes. Their eyes appear swollen and bulge out of their heads. Actually, I think it is just the scale covering the eye. The eye is in place, but the scale seems to be bulged out and this gives the appearance of these buggy eyes. I believe the area is filled with fluid, as one ruptured an eye and you can see her eye just fine, but the scale above it seems to be enlarged and has now healed, so it is filling with fluid again. We are trying to figure out how to help them with they eye problems, but in all my years of keeping and studying snakes, I've never seen anything like this. I'm not used to dealing with such inbred animals. Do any of the breeders out there have any suggestions to help with this problem? Any comments or suggestions would be helpful.


  2. MadDog

    MadDog Elite Member

    Hope you get this figured out soon. Welcome to the site!
  3. Ninjaguy1987

    Ninjaguy1987 Elite Member

    Sounds like your friend needs to get some new breeding stock for his garters.My suggestion might be to try draining it and treating it with an antibiotic maybe they have infection in that area.Is the liquid more like puss or nothing.I'm not an expert but that would be my guess.
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The snake needs to be seen by a qualified herp vet!

    And if he is getting that many defective animals your friend needs to back up and reqroup. He needs to think about what he is doing. How many of the animals he breeds have other hidden problems that he is dumping on unsuspecting new owners!
  5. jplacyk

    jplacyk New Member

    Thanks everyone that has replied so far. Typically, we would take these animals to a herp vet, but I haven't been able to find any in east TX that look like they are worth a ****. Being in my position, I have several friends that are herp vets, but most are in other states, far, far away. I have calls and e-mails out to all of them. My wife is also a board-certified, licensed vet tech. I'm a herpetologist by training and was also a hobbyist and a pet store manager in the 1990's. I've been working with or keeping herps since the 1980's and with the thousands of snakes I've worked with, I have never seen anything like this and assume that most vets will charge us for not answering our questions. We have the ability and training to aspirate and treat with antibiotics. We can provide most of the lab work that is necessary as well; I just need to know what direction to go with these little buggers. ;) This is why I'm trying to turn to the breeder community, as I'm guessing this is something that has resulted from inbreeding to get special color morphs, so I assume that some breeder out there somewhere has seen this before and either treated or sacrificed their animal.

    Believe me, I wish my friend would stop all of his inbreeding ways, but he's been working with these snakes for 30+ years and doesn't seem to care if he pops out some defects here and there, because he'll either feed them off to other snakes that eat snakes or freeze them and sell them to zoos for coral snake food. Our choice with these snakes were to either rescue them and try to treat the at home or leave them to die a frozen death and/or to be ingested by another snake.

    Again, I really appreciate everyone's suggestions so far.

    One of my herp vet friends in Michigan suggested aspirating and treating with antibiotics, so the suggestion to do this in this forum may be the way to go.

    Anyone else?


  6. Kendalle

    Kendalle Elite Member

    do you have a good vet school? that could be a good place to go
  7. jplacyk

    jplacyk New Member

    Unfortunately, the closest vet school that I know of that will have good herp vets is Texas A&M and I think it's a good five hours away at least. I think we've found an exotic vet in the east TX area, so we may try to contact him tomorrow. I'll keep folks updated.

  8. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    Ultrasound? Xrays? That would be first where I would go with that, just to at least see if you could see anything.

    There are a lot of things herpotologists can treat and heal, then there are some things that require a qualified vet to diagnose and treat. That is why they go to school for the many years that they do. We as herpotologists have no where near the knowledge as A good qualified exotic vet, no matter how long we have been doing it. That is why they have the years of schooling in the medical field of animals.
  9. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

    Do you have pictures? This sounds a lot like something that happened to someone's Crested Gecko in another forum, I will try to find the thread...I would be curious to see pics though a out of curiosity (an albino checkered garter? Never heard of one!I am dying to see it!) and to see if it looks anything like the picture of the gecko I read about...

    Ah the perks of having Bio Lab access. :) I still recommend going to a vet if you can find one...esp if they start to look any worse.
    Do they seem to see fine? What about when the one "popped" did it seem to see out of that eye ok? Better then before it popped?

    Found it!!!!

    Found it!!!!
  10. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    Aside from seeing a herp vet, I would try contacting a few breeders that specialize in leucistic Texas rat snakes they (the snakes) are notorious for having bugged eyes and if I remember correctly, the bug eyes is a trait of constant inbreeding. In the case of the Texas rat snake though, it does not seem to affect the snake's vision. Maybe they can help you out further.
  11. WhyteRabbit

    WhyteRabbit Member

    Sounds like between your wife and yourself you have access to all the toys you need to get a few questions answered. How about cooking up a culture of that discharge & seeing if you can get the lab your wife's vet uses to ID it, if neither of you can. That will at least be a start to see if this is an infection you are dealing with. I've read that the tearduct in a snake's eye is connected to the roof of the mouth; any other troubles with these poor little genetic messes? If not an infection, maybe that duct is malformed & dumping into the wrong spot.. we could hypothesize endlessly I'm sure. As stated already, without a good vet it's hard to tell. Good luck!

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