Snakes are fascinating pets and we’re pleased to say that we welcome them with open arms at our veterinary surgery. A snake vet from our specialised team can provide consultations for your pet, as well as a weight clinic and health checks. You’ll be matched with a highly qualified snake veterinarian and they’ll be able to offer advice on anything from nutrition and husbandry, to sex determination.
Please call our regular telephone number: 0208 943 2303 (Alpha Teddington); 01372 460107 (Claygate) during office hours and speak to one of our receptionists who will help book you for the correct consultation appointment.
Please remember to inform our receptionists how many pets you will be bringing. Each pet will need to be scheduled individually for a consultation to allow the vet time to properly examine each pet and discuss its problems.
Please note that our staff who answer the ‘Emergency Call’ number outside of office hours are unable to book regular day time consultations.
Here is a guideline to the different types of consultations we normally provide:
Once you have made the appointment please make sure that you, or whoever is bringing in the pet, has all the information as follows:
Please note that to sign a consent form (for example for an operation or if you pet needs to be admitted into hospital) legally it must be someone over the age of 18 years old to sign.
We require payment for the services provided immediately after a consultation. If your pet does unfortunately need to be admitted to hospital or for surgery you will be required to pay a deposit. To try and make it more convenient for you we do accept payments by cash, cheque, debit and credit cards.
And don’t forget to collect your ALPHA CARD – our free loyalty card that gives you 1% back on everything you spend with us! You collect points on your card, which you can redeem against any of our services or products! The card is free to all clients, and we even give you 500 points (=£5) to get you started! Ask at reception for more details when you come in.
We recommend health checks for your newly acquired snakes and, from then on, yearly health checks.
Our health checks aim to create awareness of optimum feeding and home care as well as diagnose and treat any existing health problems early in the disease process.
Our health checks include a full physical examination where your vet will examine your snake from nose to tail for outward signs of disease.
At additional cost further tests are available such as;
You will be asked a series of important questions about your snake including:
It is a good idea for you (or your representative in the consultation) to have thought about these issues and checked that you know as many details as possible before your visit.
Husbandry is essentially the ‘care’ that you provide for your snake and includes housing, bedding (substrate), hides (caves, plants etc.), heating and lighting.
Each species of snake (and there are approximately 3000 recorded) has very specific husbandry needs and it is important that you know these requirements. Don’t worry, we can help!
If you don’t know the species the vet can help you identify in the consultation. If it is an unusual species we may have to take some photos and do some research after the consultation.
The vast majority of problems we see are related to problems with husbandry.
Areas you need to consider, and which can be discussed further with your vet are:
Again, this subject is very species dependent.
Frequency of feeding is very important as snakes are often overfed in captivity.
Young, growing snakes may need feeding every 2-3 days, small to medium adults weekly, and very large species as little as 4-5 times per year!
Ask your vet to suggest an appropriate feeding schedule for your snake.
Captive diets often need supplementation to provide balanced nutrition (for example, calcium and vitamin D3). This can be discussed in detail during your consultation – it is important to understand that, whilst supplementation is often necessary, it needs to be done under veterinary guidance as overdoses are possible and potentially very serious.
Food items used depend on what species of snake you have. The items need to be of good quality and free from disease.
We usually do not recommend the feeding of live prey for many reasons, one of which being the potential for injuries to your snake caused by live prey items such as rats and mice. There are also welfare considerations for the poor prey!
Knowing the sex of your snake is important – it can have a big influence on how you need to care for him/her and well as determining certain disease processes he/she is susceptible to (for example female snakes developing follicular stasis or egg binding)
The sex can usually be determined fairly easily at the clinic.
Your vet can safely, cleanly and effectively determine sex using a technique called probing. A specifically designed metal probe is inserted in the vent (the hole through which poop is passed) and by doing this your vet will be able to determine whether you have a boy or a girl. This whole procedure can be completed without sedation and whilst you wait.
Please see our ‘Home Care’ section for further information on Salmonella in reptiles.
Your vet may need to hospitalise your snake either for a short period of a day or two whilst investigations are underway or for longer periods whilst treatment is undertaken.
We have a designated exotics room (our ‘hot ward’) which contains facilities to optimise your snake’s environment, providing the conditions essential to recovery. As with all reptiles, snakes are ectothermic, or cold- blooded, relying entirely on environmental conditions and warmth to drive their metabolism.
Correct environment is the most influential factor in raising a healthy happy snake.
Whilst in hospital you snake and its environment are frequently monitored and treatments are provided by our team of Veterinary Surgeons and Registered Veterinary Nurses.
We carry a large selection of food items. If however, your snake has unusual dietary preferences that your vet still sees as suitable you may be asked to bring some food in for the duration of its stay.
Yes, it is possible for your snake to get fat!
In fact, it is quite common for snakes in captivity to be overweight owing either to being fed too much, too often or simply eating the wrong type of food items.
The good news is we can help you with advice to try and get your snake in more appropriate condition.
To help avoid obesity issues we recommend regular weighing and measuring of your snake so that your vet can determine his/her BODY CONDITION SCORE – that is, a quantitative assessment of weight to size and body fat to muscling) This can be done during the physical examination.
You can download our PDF documents for more information.
Guinea Pig – Feeding
Cat – Moving House
Exotic – Critical Care
Cat & Dog – Bereavement