Snake with headache

Vets at UQ Gatton saved the life of Aggro the venomous tiger snake who suffered from a tumour on his head.
Vets at UQ Gatton saved the life of Aggro the venomous tiger snake who suffered from a tumour on his head. Contributed

THIS wasn't your normal day for the vets at UQ Gatton.

While surgery on dogs, horses and even birds is common fare for vets, similar operations on deadly snakes are less so.

But that all changed when a highly venomous tiger snake from the Downunder Reptile Park in Childers developed a tumour on its head.

Reptile Park owner Ian Jenkins was referred to the university's vets after the snake named Aggro couldn't be treated by the Childers Veterinary Clinic.

UQ Small Animal Hospital head of service Dr Bob Doneley anesthetist Dr Martin Pearson were called in to operate on the snake.

While he is normally a specialist avian vet, Dr Doneley said he had experience in reptile surgery as well as on small mammals.

But despite the previous experience, Dr Doneley said this wasn't a regular day in the office.

"Surgery on snakes is uncommon, and surgery on venomous snakes is very uncommon," Dr Doneley said.

However, the specialist nature of the UQ facilities meant they were able to perform the surgery that stumped other vets.

"At the UQ Veterinary Medical Centre we have the resources and trained staff to be able to handle unusual cases with avian and exotic animals."

"My colleague Dr Pearson anesthetised Aggro while I removed the tumour using a skin flap to cover the area.

"The surgery was a complete success and Aggro has made a complete recovery," he said.

Dr Doneley said the tumour was benign and is not expected to recur.

Tiger snakes like Aggro are a highly venomous snake native to the southern regions of Australia.

They produce a powerful neurotoxin that affects the central nervous system and can cause muscle damage and blot clots.

The University of Queensland Gatton Veterinary Medical Centre is an advanced veterinary clinic and teaching hospital that services south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales and is equipped to handle unusual cases.

The UQ Gatton Veterinary Medical Centre is open to the public and offers medical and surgical facilities for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, small mammals and fish.

It specialises in surgery, internal medicine and ophthalmology. To contact the UQ veterinary surgery phone 5460 1788.

Topics:  childers gatton snakes uq