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Western Gaboon Viper Named Cookie Receives Extraordinary Medical Care

Warning: Graphic image below. 

Recently one of our scaly residents, western gaboon viper (Bitis rhinoceros) “Cookie,” was taken to Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists for a CT and ultrasound. Cookie had not eaten since April of 2023 and had not been acting like her usual self. While 10 months of not eating sounds alarming, adult gaboon vipers can go almost a year without food if they have good hydration and appropriate temperatures!

The Houston Zoo’s veterinary team wanted to get a close look at her follicles (egg cells) that were present during her radiographs a couple of months prior. After her CT and ultrasound scans, it was determined that the undeveloped follicles had not changed in size and could potentially be stuck inside Cookie. Usually, if the eggs are not fertilized the reptile’s body would reabsorb them on its own. However, if there is a problem in the reproductive tract or in the environmental conditions, then follicles could get stuckThe Animal Health team decided that their best option was to spay her and remove the undeveloped follicles. 

After several hours of surgery, our vet team was successful in removing the undeveloped follicles, and Cookie is expected to make a full recovery! She will continue to take antibiotics and pain medication while being monitored by both her keepers and vet team.  

Get well soon, Cookie! 

When you visit Houston Zoo, you are helping our animal care teams take care of animals like Cookie. Although she will be recovering behind the scenes, you can stop by the Reptile & Amphibian House to see our other gaboon viper, Gibby. 

All the undeveloped follicles that were removed from the Gaboon Viper.