Use of inhalant anesthetics in three snake species

Gabriel Blouin-Demers, Patrick J. Weatherhead, Catherine M. Shilton, Christopher E. Parent, Gregory P. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Different snake species respond differently to various anesthetic agents. Hence, an anesthetic procedure developed for one species cannot necessarily be safely transferred to another species. The goal of this paper is to summarize our experience using inhalant anesthetics on three snake species, including both procedures that were successful and those we found to be less satisfactory. We found isoflurane delivered with a precision vaporizer to be the best agent to anesthetize black rat snakes (Elaphe o. obsoleta). Sex and mass did not seem to affect induction times in black rat snakes, but larger female rat snakes recovered faster from anesthesia than smaller females. Halothane delivered in the open method provided consistent anesthesia in northern water snakes (Nerodia s. sipedon), although it caused some mortality and should not be used on debilitated patients. Halothane delivered with a precision vaporizer may be used to anesthetize eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus c. catenatus). However, care must be taken to prevent mortality resulting from anesthetic overdose. Sex and mass had no effect on induction and recovery times in the rattlesnakes, but stressed animals require longer induction and recovery times.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalContemporary Herpetology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes


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