Serpent charmed into eating ceramic egg in Seward chicken coop
A black rat snake looking for eggs in Al Filat's chicken coop in Seward found the ceramic version used to coax his chickens to nest pretty hard to swallow.
“The egg smelled like chicken,” neighbor Alan Hollingsworth said. “Let's face it, they're not that bright.”
Hollingsworth, 54, who volunteers with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission surveying timber rattlesnakes, took the 5-foot snake with a tell-tale bulge to the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Verona on Monday. A veterinarian who evaluated the reptile on Tuesday has called in a specialist to perform the “high-risk” surgery.
“I have never seen anything quite like this,” said Jill Argall, director of the center. “This is a little beyond what we can do.”
The co-founder of the Pittsburgh Herpetological Society said she was surprised that the snake swallowed an artificial egg.
“That's a good one,” said Dolly Ellenbrock, 63, of Aspinwall. “I've probably never heard of a snake swallowing a ceramic egg.”
Black rat snakes are frequent visitors to suburban backyards, farms and fields from Connecticut to North Carolina, according to the National Wildlife Federation. They can range from 3 1⁄2 to 7 feet long and live primarily on rodents, amphibians and young birds.
Snakes are opportunistic hunters.
“They will eat eggs if they come across them,” said Edward Bennett, 60, of Franklin Park, a veterinarian who works with reptiles and has been called upon to remove foreign objects from their bellies.
Bennett recently did surgery to remove a fish hook from a water turtle, more common objects that reptiles swallow after smelling fish or bait on them.
A 2 1⁄2-foot Northern water snake got more than it bargained for two years ago at Keystone Lake after swallowing a fish that had a hook in its mouth.
Park officials found the snake tangled in fishing line. The fish — and the hook — were inside the snake's stomach.
The Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center also treated that snake, dubbed Captain for the fictional character Captain Hook from the story “Peter Pan.”
An X-ray showed the natural course of digestion had pushed the hook to the snake's colon, making surgical intervention difficult because of the risk of infection.
Veterinarians instead treated the snake with enemas and waited about a week for the hook to pass.
That's probably not the course of treatment for the snake that Alan Hollingsworth took from his neighbor's chicken coop.
“I knew something had to be done, he said. “That ceramic egg takes up his whole stomach.”
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Online donors help Hempfield teen whose wallet was stolen
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- ‘Dope sick’ man in custody in Mt. Pleasant stick-up
- 2 from Westmoreland County charged in child porn investigation
- Lawyers for convicted killer Smyrnes want info about death row
- Numerous Westmoreland communities to observe Memorial Day
- Charges dismissed against former Westmoreland jail guard accused of sex with inmate
- Arnold man could get resisting arrest charge dismissed
- Westmoreland County Blind Association building brimming with activity
- Ex-Derry Township man’s troubles mount
- Penn Township man pleads guilty to assaulting 3 police officers