Eastern Ratsnake #19-2127

July 11, 2019
August 15, 2022
Rescue Location
Hanover County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Swallowed Ceramic Eggs
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On July 9, a private citizen in Hanover County found an adult Eastern Ratsnake in a chicken coop, and suspected that the snake had ingested several “dummy” ceramic eggs that were missing from the coop; ceramic eggs are commonly used to encourage chickens to lay eggs in specific nest boxes. After spending two days inside the coop, the snake was captured and taken to a nearby veterinary hospital before a registered volunteer transporter drove the snake to the Center on July 11.

Veterinary staff performed a physical examination, finding two firm objects lodged approximately halfway down the snake’s intestinal tract. One "crunchy" feeling object was also felt, likely a real egg. Radiographs confirmed two hollow objects (likely the indigestible ceramic eggs) that would need to be removed surgically with a procedure known as an enterotomy (cutting open the intestinal tract).

On July 12, Veterinary Intern Dr. Karra performed the surgery, successfully removing the eggs and suturing the incision site closed – a particularly challenging procedure in snakes due to their long intestinal tracts. Special care was taken to avoid damaging the eggs, which are commonly coated in paint that may be harmful if fully ingested.


In the days after surgery, Eastern Ratsnake #19-2127 has been doing well. The sutures closing the incision site have remained intact, and no signs of inflammation, discharge, or soft tissue necrosis have been observed during daily checks. For now, the veterinary and rehabilitation staff will continue to monitor the incision site and overall health of the snake, and look closely for feces in the snake’s enclosure, an indication that the digestive tract is healing appropriately.

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Patient Updates

On August 15, a volunteer transporter brought Eastern Ratsnake #19-2127 back to its home range in Hanover County, Virginia. After being released, the snake slithered off into the undergrowth of a nearby wooded area; the initial rescuer said she was happy to have her “home”!

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Kirk:

Eastern Ratsnake #19-2127 has been healing well following surgery in mid-July; the snake has been eating in captivity, and by the second week of August, the incision site had fully healed. The staff took pre-release bloodwork and declared that the snake was ready for release; they’ll coordinate release with the snake’s rescuers so that the snake can return to its home range.