Respiratory tract disease is common in captive snakes. Pneumonia and/or tracheitis are typically caused by opportunistic Gram-negative bacterial infections that are allowed to take hold due to poor husbandry practices. Disease is often unapparent to the owner until the problem is quite advanced and open-mouth breathing is observed. This presenting problem article explores key points of urgent care as well as general principles of case management.
After recognizing a dyspneic bird, the clinician’s initial response should be: Hands Off!! Dyspneic birds can die soon after presentation with the additional stress of restraint and handling. Therefore minimize handling and place the bird in an oxygen-rich cage. Humidify air and provide 40 to 50% oxygen. As in mammals, oxygen therapy is potentially toxic if given for prolonged periods at high levels.