Veterinary Technology Students Take Reptile Adventure

Published on December 9, 2014 by arothstein

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Rena, a red tail boa, curled around a veterinary technology student’s neck.

“This snake is keeping my neck warm in a cold way,” said Heather Williams, veterinary technology instructor. “It’s like getting a little massage.”

Tyler Messina, from Reptile Adventures, recently visited Heather’s Lab Animals, Exotics and Pocket Pets class. Reptile Adventures is a non-profit organization that rescues reptiles and educates people about them.

“Reptiles are gaining in popularity,” said Tyler. “They used to be the villains in popular media, and now they are comic relief. You now see reptiles in pet stores and specific pet stores for reptiles.”

Tyler, also a veterinary technician at All Valley Animal Care Center, discussed reptile anatomy, classification, and care to the Broadview University-Boise vet tech students.

Common types of reptiles and the diseases that they encounter were also included in Tyler’s presentation. “Inclusion Body Disease (IBD) in snakes has no treatment. There’s increased pain and a decreased quality of life,” he said.

“Sounds like mad cow disease,” said Mista Brock, a vet tech student. Fellow classmate Brian Swartz asked when the first case of IBD was and whether it was in the wild or captivity. Tyler answered, “It’s a retrovirus, and no cause is known, but the snake mite is suspected to carry it.”

veterinary technology program

Tyler Messina discussing turtle and tortoise anatomy while a student examines Hot Mess, a tortoise

Animals from Reptiles Adventures were brought out to help illustrate proper restraint. These reptile visitors included Rosie, a tarantella; Gomer, an alligator; Beast, a monitor; Chester, a turtle; Hot Mess, a tortoise, and two snakes: Slash, a ball boa and Rena, a red tail boa.

“A tube hold is the safest for the snake and you, but it can be hard to get snake in a hold,” said Tyler. “Anything over six feet – you need more than one person to hold it.”

Tyler gave students the opportunity to practice what they learned. “When handling them, you can’t be scared.” The majority of students, though, were brave enough to try.

“It was fun,” said Ian Kluck, a vet tech student.

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