Little Garter Snake with a Big Problem

Student Blog by Yvonne Wong, VM 21

In November, a juvenile Common Garter Snake presented to the Wildlife Medical Clinic. The little snake, just 30 grams or around 1 ounce, was found in a basement! It is not uncommon for reptiles to find shelter in residential homes during the winter months, but this choice is not always supported by the human inhabitants.

Patient on initial intake

Upon intake, multiple small skin lesions (abnormalities) were found along the snake’s body. Otherwise, the patient appeared to be healthy.

Based on the physical exam findings, clinic members were immediately concerned about one particular disease – Snake Fungal disease (SFD), an infection caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophidiiocola.

This relatively newly-discovered fungal pathogen (first seen in 2006) is highly contagious, and potentially fatal, to numerous snake species (including garter snakes).

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A Different Kind of Thanksgiving Bird!

On the day before Thanksgiving this year, a female mallard duck was brought to the Wildlife Medical Clinic after being hit by a car four days prior.

Physical examination found that the patient was not able to stay standing, although she was able to place her hindlimbs appropriately underneath her and move them when held in the air. No fractures were palpated, and the rest of the physical examination was generally unremarkable. Unfortunately, she appeared to have lost some waterproofing, which ducks and other aquatic birds normally need to keep their feathers dry. The patient was started on an anti-inflammatory medication and given swim time twice daily.

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WMC Conservation Newsletter Spring 2018- Endangered Species of the Month

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters – Indiana bats
Uploaded by Dolovis

From US Fish and Wildlife Service: The Indiana bat was listed as endangered in 1967 due to episodes of people disturbing hibernating bats in caves during winter, resulting in the death of large numbers of bats. Indiana bats are vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves (the largest hibernation caves support from 20,000 to 50,000 bats). Other threats that have contributed to the Indiana bat’s decline include commercialization of caves, loss of summer habitat, pesticides, and other contaminants, and most recently, the disease White-Nose Syndrome.

Indiana bats are quite small, weighing only one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) although in flight they have a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. Their fur is dark- brown to black. They hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. During summer they roost under the peeling bark of dead and dying trees. Indiana bats eat a variety of flying insects found along rivers or lakes and in uplands. Click here for more information on endangered species in Illinois.

Continue reading: WMC Conservation Newsletter March 2018

By: Kate Keets, WMC Conservation Chair, Class of 2021