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Venomous Brown Snake Visits the Vet

  • Thursday 10th November 2022
  • Kiah Wilson
  • Snakes, Vet, Venomous, Australia

Dr Mike Cannon Examines Kevin (L To R Dr Mike Cannon, Dean Tsavaris And Renee Howell) Photo Credit Kiah Wilson (1)

‘Another day at the office for’ Dr Mike Cannon, treating ‘Kevin’ the Eastern brown snake
Staff remind the public warmer weather will see increased snake activity.

It’s not everyday vets are faced with managing the health of one of the world’s most venomous snakes but for WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo’s vet, Dr Mike Cannon, it’s just another day in the office at the Darling Harbour attraction.

Kevin, the resident Eastern brown snake, was carefully removed from his exhibit by specially trained keepers. Before being placed and transported in a specially designed wheely bin allowing keepers to transport venomous snakes securely and safely.

Once Kevin had arrived at our vet clinic, he was then safely secured for a veterinary examination.
The often-revered species is ranked the second most venomous snake in the world. It inhabits most of and is probably the most frequently encountered venomous snake in eastern Australia.

This wasn’t the routine check-up for Kevin. Experienced venomous snake keeper and handler, Dean Tsavaris, explained “We began to have some concerns for Kevin as his eyes had developed some cloudiness”.
Cloudiness is often a pre-cursor that a snake will soon shed its skin, but the timing between Kevin’s sheds was significantly off, necessitating further investigation from the zoo’s vet.

Kevin was safely and comfortably secured in an examination tube and restrained by Renee Howell - Curatorial Supervisor at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Dr Mike and Dean were then able to get a good visual inspection of both eyes and determine Kevin had some mild abrasions, most likely through rubbing against exhibit furnishings such as rocks and substrate. A behaviour commonly observed with wild reptiles as they explore their habitat.

Dr Mike joked to the team of keepers “well we aren’t going to be able to apply eye ointment traditionally!” The experienced team’s ‘Eureka!’ moment, landed on the use of a long cue tip to safely apply a course of ointment to Kevin’s eyes whilst restrained in the examination tube.

Keepers are happy to report that Kevin has made a full recovery and has remained on display allowing
zoo guests the opportunity to safely see this often-misunderstood species up close and hopefully develop
a greater appreciation for their important role in the Australian ecosystem.

With warmer weather returning zoo staff are warning public they will likely see increased snake activity.
Many animals have been disturbed during recent weather events, this includes snakes and their prey
species such as introduced rodents (rats and mice).

The golden rule to any wild animal encounter, including venomous snakes, is to simply keep your distance
and leave them alone. If the animal is in a spot that requires it to be moved (e.g. dwelling or swimming
pool) or injured, the public should call upon a licenced professional to remove, release or seek required
specialised veterinary care.

Individuals should never attempt to handle a wild animal as when feeling threatened they are more
inclined to defend themselves and could inflict a serious or even fatal bite.
If you have been bitten by a snake or spider, please follow first-aid techniques and go straight to hospital.

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