Richard S. Funk, MA, DVM
Venomoid surgery is a surgical technique developed to render a venomous snake functionally nonvenomous. The first descriptions of this surgery involved an approach to the venom duct through the scales on the side of the snake’s face, transecting and double-ligating the venom ducts; the venom gland remained in situ. This technique resulted in facial scars and a significant number of patients developed a granulomatous response at the surgical site.
An intraoral approach was developed by the author. An incision is made through the oral mucosa between the maxillary teeth and the lip margin, exposing the venom gland and its duct. The entire venom gland and venom duct are then removed. A silicone prosthesis is then placed into the site to help preserve the cosmetic appearance of the head postoperatively. A segment of surgical stainless steel suture, or a transponder microchip, is placed inside the prosthesis to facilitate future identification of the snake. The incision is closed with absorbable suture in a continuous pattern. The patient is not fed for 3–4 wk postoperatively and is fed only dead prey thereafter. Legally, most jurisdictions still consider a snake in which the venom gland has been surgically removed to be a venomous species although it is no longer functionally venomous.