Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 164-172

Maintaining rear-fanged snakes for venom production: an evaluation of mortality and survival rates for Philodryas olfersii and P. patagoniensis in captivity

Braz, H. BRocha, M. M. TFurtado, M. F. D

This study evaluates the mortality and average survival rates of captive female Philodryas olfersii and Philodryas patagoniensis snakes maintained for venom production. Also, two factors likely to reduce captive survival were studied - body condition at admission and seasonality. Mortality peaks occurred during the second month in captivity. More than half the individuals were dead at the end of the third month. This suggests that the first three months in captivity are the most critical in terms of survival and adaptation. Females collected and admitted during spring and summer lived less time than those collected in autumn and winter. As gravidity and egg-laying occur during spring and summer, we suggest that the lower survival rates in these seasons may be due to high costs and stress involved in these reproductive events. Unexpectedly, body mass and body condition were poor predictors of survival in captivity. Our results have important implications in maintaining snakes for venom production. We propose some prophylactic measures to minimize the deleterious impacts of captivity during the adaptation period.(AU)

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