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Coimbatore

Meet the snake surgeon!

Covai Post Network

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Snakes, by default, inspire fear in most of us. However, for Krishnamoorthy Asokan, Veterinary doctor, Veterinary Hospital, Ettimadai, giving these creatures a new lease of life is a passion. His timely surgeries on different species of snakes have saved them from the jaws of death.

Apart from this, Asokan has also worked towards rescuing and rehabilitating snakes back in their natural environment. He tells us that in last three years alone more than 2000 snakes were rescued and rehabilitated in the forest.

Of all the surgeries that he had successfully performed on snakes, Asokan recalls the one on a rat-snake. A Coimbatore-based NGO that woks for the welfare of snakes spotted an eight-and-a-half feet long male rat-snake in a deserted part of the city. The members handed over the rat-snake to veterinarian Asokan.

“The rat-snake weighed two kilos, and had two very distinct deformities. One was a subcutaneous, fluid filled mass, measuring half cm in diameter on the right lateral aspect of the cranial third of the snake’s body. The second was a multi-lobulated, raised, subcutaneous mass on the left lateral aspect of the snake’s mid-body,” Asokan said.

Asokan performed surgeries on the rat-snake. The wounds were dressed everyday and the treatment included administering antibiotics. The snake was kept in an enclosure for a fortnight. By then the wounds had completely healed. A fit and healthy rat-snake was released in its natural environment.

Asokan also shares with us the surgery he performed on a snake to remove a fish hook that was stuck in its throat. Olive Keelback snake is commonly found in water bodies. This species feeds on earthworms. One of the snakes swallowed an earthworm that was pinned to a fishing hook. While this snake managed to digest the earthworm, the hook had already got stuck in its trachea.

“Hooks that get lodged in the mouth or down the throat of snakes need immediate medical attention. They can cause life-threatening injuries when swallowed, and need to be surgically removed,” Asokan said. The snake given oral sedation and was immediately operated upon.

The hook, measuring four-inches, was removed successfully. The snake recovered and was normal in a few days. During recuperation, the snake was given eggs mixed with antibiotics. The snake was released in the water tank.

Ashokan said that the snake could have died had it not been brought to the hospital on time. Environmentalists noticed it near the Ukkadam Big Tank in an unconscious state. By nature aquatic snakes are active around water bodies. However, this was not the case with this particular snake. They brought the two-foot long Olive Keelback snake to the Government Veterinary Hospital, Ettimadai, and the rest was nothing short of miracle.

While he served as zoo director of the V.O.C. Mini Zoological Park, Asokan until 2004 had overseen the birth of 22 Indian Rock Pythons, 23 Russell Vipers, 18 Green Vein snakes, and 12 cobras in the zoo. He is aware that a majority of the public fear the sight of these creatures. He intends to organize awareness programmes on snakes in schools and colleges in the city.

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