Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chicken Protein Shakes and Snake Wraps

When you're an endangered reptile in captivity, hunger strikes are not acceptable. Indigo Snakes are endangered not only due to loss of habitat (dry, pine and palmetto forests) but because they are so docile in temperament and incredibly beautiful that people illegally remove them from the wild and sell them as pets. The male Indigos shimmer with crimson and obsidian iridescence as if created by a glass blower. The females lack the red but are equally gorgeous. This one was removed from a Gopher Tortoise's burrow (a typical place they cohabitate) by an ignorant farmer and became too sick to be returned to the wild. But after several months it still has not eaten and it was time for us to step in and force feed him.

The snake is nearly 6 feet long. To get the tube far enough down into the stomach, I would have to hold the snake and prevent him from straighting out.

The tube must go down the esophagus. Food or air into the lungs would kill the snake.

The food is a delicious blend of pureed chicken and eggs, which is fairly close to what they would eat in the wild and in truth is remarkably foul smelling.

Once the stomach is full, the snake must be relaxed and held upright to allow gravity and a little massaging to help the food stay down.

Snakes feel more comfortable when they are draped or wrapped around something. (normally a tree!!) In this case, the Indigo coiled up into my shorts and than came back down the other leg and wrapped around. That should give you an idea of how long the snake is. And how comfortable I was. It really didn't bother me until the snake decided to uncoil by backing out of my shorts. I wanted no part of that and we enticed him to come back out the way he went in.

Really....what can I say for this one?

This should keep the Indigo healthy for many weeks to come, but hopefully he'll learn to eat on his own again.


  1. Excellent blog!! Petie is back! This is the wildlife biologist we know and love. I enjoyed all the pictures and there weren't any big words that I had to look up this time! Thanks!

  2. Good gawd, had a snake done that to me, a serious bio spill would have ensued! =8^0