How do you give a king cobra a check-up?

Posted February 24, 2022 by Angela Hatke

The Cincinnati Zoo has an entire vet staff on site to help keep all of our animals, big and small, scaly and hairy, healthy! Most animals receive regular checkups and health assessments.  Some animals, especially primates, have learned behaviors that allow them to participate in their own care, eliminating the need for anesthesia.  Other animals, such as venomous snakes, require extra caution, equipment, and expertise to treat. 

Here’s a look at how our reptile and vet teams work with timber rattlesnakes, king cobras and Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes safely. 

Timber rattlesnake

This is a snake tube. They come in a variety of sizes. The idea is that once you get the snake in the tube you can examine them more closely while not worrying about getting bit!

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

King Cobra

How do you care for hundreds of different species? 

There is 7-day-a-week coverage at the Zoo’s Animal Hospital.  The hospital staff is well-rounded, experienced, and ready to provide care for whatever animal needs attention.! Every morning, the vet team meets to figure out what the day will be, what procedures are scheduled, which animals need post-procedural checks (rechecks) and to discuss cases. Cases are assigned, and they head out! 

How often an animal is given an exam depends on a variety of factors including the risk of going in to treat the animal, the age and health status of the animal, whether or not anesthesia is needed, and general well-being of the animal.  Doing a checkup every single year on every animal would be taxing on both the animals and the hospital staff, so the team relies on keeper staff to carefully monitor behaviors and to reach out if something is off.