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Snakes/Possible Causes for sudden death of Corn Snake?


Saturn My Living Corn Snake
Saturn My Living Corn  
I am utterly devestated and destroyed that my very first Corn Snake named Saturn,a vibrant, active, healthy and fit, Eleven year old female, suddenly died tonight. I own multiple Exotics from Geckos to Bearded Dragon, Ball Python, Milk, Corn,King Snakes, SugarGliders etc and have been a knowledgeable and avid Herper for close to sixteen years. Saturn lived alone and was never bred, in a fifty galloon tank in my bedroom and never came into contact with my other Reptiles. She was extraordinarily affectionate from infancy and came out of hiding when her name was called to be let out almost every other day of her long life to curl up and watch a movie with me or go for a sprint in the tub. She was well loved by the Kids and Families in our neighborhood and was an amazing ambassador for people with unwarranted or ignorant Fear of Snakes and cured many many Individuals in her Lifetime of their Snake Phobias. She was long and thick (not overweight) never had an illness or infection, pristine skin, inside of mouth and anus. Was a good eater with regular, healthy stools and uriate, no visible signs of parasites, mites, molds or bacterias etc. This morning she was fine, early this evening I noticed her moving around in a jerky, agitated state with strange head tilting up like yhe 'Boid" virus star gazing describltion in Boas and Pythons. Before I even had a chance to grab her she was vomitting a few thin, vein like strings of bloody mucus type material into her water bowl about an inch long, they did not appear to be live worms or anything, she also had a small bit of yellow bile colored and clear frothy vomit this all happened within like five minutes of me fist observing her strange movements. I grabbed a pair of surgical gloves and I took her out of her enclosure to examine her closer. The inside of her mouth was pristine, no sign of mouth rot symptoms or infection or throat blockages, no swelling, cysts, abbrasions on or Non fekt under her skin, she did look like she was almost ready to go into a shed phase with the exception of her eyes being clear and her body was very limp in my arms she is usually very strong and muscular. All the Reptile vets in my area were closed, I have a pretty extensive Herp Emergency Kit but have never in my Life had a snake exhibit such symptoms or ever had to take one to the vet. I filled half of the bottom half of the tub with water and laid her in it to help with the shed and to examine her better, she slid in and out of the shallow puddle energetically so I was encouraged, nothing strange around her anal opening. I checked her Terrarium for any fresh feces to examine and only found a day old one that seemed normal, quick magnifying glass did not reveal any visible mites, worms or parasites etc. I took her out, dried her off took out some of her terrarium objects so I could observe her better. She started mouth gasping a bit and just open mouth with the strange head tilting (neurological disorder?) She was older and bought from a reliable breeder, I am very active in the community in my city and others and know all the good Breeders and their facilities. She has never had a health problem previous to this. she then seemed to cease all movement, I took her back out limp and tries to check for a heartbeat, she wasn't moving at all, I tried to use a straw to initiate CPR on her for about fifteen minutes with no result and finally had the horrible realization that she was gone. I called my parents hysterical and they came to take her to their home so we could bury her tomorrow. I am hoping that given the symptoms and information provided that someone may be able to enlighten me with any possible causes of death. As I said this happened very rapidly from onset of symptoms until time of CPR approx 20-25 mins? I am currently disabled from a car accident and off work from a very successful career otherwise I would request an autopsy but it is thousands of dollars I just don't have readily available. She had a wonderful life I am aghast at what I may have done wrong after all these years. It's 3am this started at approx 8pm and was over quickly but I am still overwrought with grief and cannot sleep and am searching the internet for help or some answers for possible closure? I will call all the Breeders I know tomorrow to see if they can shed any light on the possible causes of death.....I am so upset. I am attaching a photo of her in a basket on a pillow post mortem so you can see how healthy and peaceful she looks. If anyone can help ease my pain please message me. I would be forever grateful. Thank you in advance, Kirsti

Kirsti, I'm so sorry for your loss.  Obviously, unexpected deaths can be traumatic and I hope your post was cathartic for you.  Your distress was evident throughout.  

Without an autopsy no one will know what happened, and honestly the odds of finding out anything with the autopsy are slim.  Bury her knowing how important she was to you and others, remember the good she did, and move on.  This happens.  I can't even count the number of times I've gone into my breeding room slid out a drawer to clean or feed and found a 100% healthy looking animal dead.  It's a loss.  Most people won't understand how you could form such a bond with a snake but you did.  And that's ok.  


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I can answer any questions about selecting a new snake. Most questions about how to care for a particular snake, including diet and habitat. I can answer questions concerning breeding of most of the commmonly available snakes in US. And I can tackle genetics questions as well.


15 years experience as an owner, breeder, dealer and teacher.

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