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  1. #1
    Registered User royalreilly's Avatar
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    Question Dekay's Brown Snake with... Tongue Injury?

    My dad found this very little guy in the mulch in our yard yesterday.



    He was obviously super cute, but something was strange about his tongue? His tongue never fully went inside of his mouth, it was just sticking out, not flicking. And instead of being forked, it ended bluntly, almost as if it had been cut off at some point and scarred over. I've never seen this in a snake before. Any clues as to what could have caused this? We set him free. I felt bad letting him go if he was injured, but there were no other signs of anything wrong with him. Hopefully it doesn't affect his ability to eat or anything. I would've considered keeping him and monitoring him if I was more prepared! I also don't think we know much about keeping Dekay's brown snakes in captivity...



    Anyway I just wanted to share his pics here, and to see if anyone knew anything about the weird condition of his tongue.

  2. #2
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Aw, poor little snake. I've never come across a snake like that before: if there are no forks to the tongue, then obviously some is missing, and if it doesn't go
    completely inside the mouth, that's a different issue; snakes can have an infection of the glottis, for example, which can make the tongue difficult to flick, so they
    may flick it slowly, which is something I've seen before, or I suppose it might just be stuck as this one seems to be? I'm not sure about his prognosis, because
    snakes find & recognize their food by scent, & to do that, they need their tongue tips. The tips of a snake's tongue pick up molecules (of scent) which are
    transported to the Jacobsen's organ in the roof of their mouth, in order for them to identify what they're smelling. They might still be able to smell a little bit
    nasally, but I think it would be a real hindrance without their tongue tips. The one good thing is that he seems to be surviving...I mean he doesn't look like he's
    starving & if you didn't see a fresh injury, it's possible that he's coping???

    But he may also have some sort of mouth (glottis) infection too. In fact, the problem might have started with a mouth infection, and when his tongue stuck out
    for too long, the tissues may have dried out, causing the loss?
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 10-04-2019 at 05:18 PM.
    Many friends in low places...

  3. #3
    Registered User royalreilly's Avatar
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    Re: Dekay's Brown Snake with... Tongue Injury?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Aw, poor little snake. I've never come across a snake like that before: if there are no forks to the tongue, then obviously some is missing, and if it doesn't go
    completely inside the mouth, that's a different issue; snakes can have an infection of the glottis, for example, which can make the tongue difficult to flick, so they
    may flick it slowly, which is something I've seen before, or I suppose it might just be stuck as this one seems to be? I'm not sure about his prognosis, because
    snakes find & recognize their food by scent, & to do that, they need their tongue tips. The tips of a snake's tongue pick up molecules (of scent) which are
    transported to the Jacobsen's organ in the roof of their mouth, in order for them to identify what they're smelling. They might still be able to smell a little bit
    nasally, but I think it would be a real hindrance without their tongue tips. The one good thing is that he seems to be surviving...I mean he doesn't look like he's
    starving & if you didn't see a fresh injury, it's possible that he's coping???

    But he may also have some sort of mouth (glottis) infection too. In fact, the problem might have started with a mouth infection, and when his tongue stuck out
    for too long, the tissues may have dried out, causing the loss?
    I feel so bad for the little guy!! I'm going to just keep hoping that because he had no apparent fresh wounds he's been living like this for a while and knows how to survive. I just don't think he would've even had a better chance in my care, or probably any captive care. I don't think I could've even gotten food for him... they mostly eat worms and slugs apparently, but he was sooo tiny! Dekay's brown snakes are known for being small, but I think this one may have even still been a juvenile.
    I've just got to hope he's out there doing okay now

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    Bogertophis (10-04-2019)

  5. #4
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    It sounds more like a birth defect than an injury to me. But apparently the little cutie still manages to eat, so (s)he'll likely live a full, happy life
    ...life is beautiful...

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  6. #5
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Dekay's Brown Snake with... Tongue Injury?

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiga 01453 View Post
    It sounds more like a birth defect than an injury to me. But apparently the little cutie still manages to eat, so (s)he'll likely live a full, happy life
    Could be? Or, if his tongue doesn't fully retract (for whatever reason) then something (like crickets, maybe?) might have chewed it off?
    Many friends in low places...

  7. #6
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    Re: Dekay's Brown Snake with... Tongue Injury?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Could be? Or, if his tongue doesn't fully retract (for whatever reason) then something (like crickets, maybe?) might have chewed it off?
    I guess we'll never know. It just seems to me that the tongue didn't fully develop, and the fact that the animal can't pull it back into his/her mouth makes me think there's a defect at play. But that's just my hypothesis...
    ...life is beautiful...

    0.1 Bredli Python - Fernie
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    0.2 Cats - Simba & Nala

  8. #7
    Registered User royalreilly's Avatar
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    Re: Dekay's Brown Snake with... Tongue Injury?

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiga 01453 View Post
    It sounds more like a birth defect than an injury to me. But apparently the little cutie still manages to eat, so (s)he'll likely live a full, happy life
    Who would've known that a little snake could be such an interesting case...

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    Craiga 01453 (10-04-2019)

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