snake research

Ptyas carinata Eyecap Successfully Removed

The Ptyas carinata (keeled rat snake) I caught on the mountain last night had an eyecap that was lodged in the eye-socket and not coming out anytime soon. I’d never removed one before, but, having watched some video about it – I thought I’d give it a try.

What Are Snake Eye Caps?
Snakes have no eyelids, and the skins they shed regularly – covers the eye as well. When the snake skins shed – fall off – there is the covering for the eyes that comes off as well. When they don’t shed with the rest of the skin and get stuck over the eye – they are known as eye caps, or retained eye caps.

Snakes with mites or other infections around the eye might retain the eye caps after a shed, and this is probably what happened to my rat snake, as he had an obvious infection of some sort around the eye.

First I held the rat snake’s head with my right hand and touched the eye cap with a piece of cloth to see how she reacted. No reaction. I wanted to see – was she going to really get agitated if I tried to remove it? She didn’t. Then, using a piece of tape I rolled up into a little stick I attempted to brush against the eye cap from the nose to the neck… hoping it would come off. It did not. The snake still wasn’t agitated. I took a jeweler’s screwdriver and very gently eased it under a little ridge of the eye cap and lifted the cap slowly. The snake was still not having a bad time of it – so I kept going. Eventually it was off completely. Then she livened up because she could see how close I was to her.

Feels good have the snake better off for having seen me, not worse off.

Exterior eye-cap from Ptyas carinata

I will let this keeled rat snake go at the Thailand mountain I found him on, but in a different location. There is a place I know they are always complaining about the rats. This snake will help with that.

Will shoot some video and photos as I let her go, but it’s with the iPhone – which isn’t the best, but hopefully will give me something usable for YouTube. These keeled rat snakes in Thailand are lovely animals – I hope you get to see one sometime. They are non-venomous, and though they bite if agitated, they can also be hand-held if you know how to do it.

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