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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My partner and I have been considering a DWAL off and on for a while - with a particular interest in a couple of different species. Although we don't quite agree 100% in what we'd like to keep (I have off-and-on considered rattlers; he's more interested in adders - he's more likely in the long run to get his way because I don't think I personally have the reaction times for rattlers or ANY elapid species), there is one genus we do agree on - Heloderma.

Now, we're doing some initial research on Gilas (our preference) and Beadeds, and we are also discussing a sort of mentorship with someone who is willing to let us work with them under supervision. This would be primarily so that we have a chance to evaluate our ability to manage them - and practical hands-on experience in the event we decide that yes, keeping them in OUR home is what we want to do - at that point we would be going for the DWAL for ourselves, personally.

I'd really like to know what sort of protocols keepers use for this genus - specifically handling protocols and bite protocols.

With regards to the former:

What tools do you find yourself using on a practical daily care basis?
Do you ever lift/handle the animals with your hands - with or without heavy gloves?
Do you use "trap" hide boxes to manage them?

With regards to the latter:

If you have a written bite protocol file I would very much like to see that - how you would instruct a hospital to manage the bite, for example.
I will be doing further research into the venom, its effects and how I personally would want a bite to be treated if it occurred, but I would like to see any and all protocols that any keeper would care to share.

Any information or experiences would be very much appreciated.
 

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tbh as in the event of any bite most of the treatment instructions for the hospital would come from a doctor that is trained in the treatment of venomous animal bites either in person or over the phone.
 

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I keep gilas and to be honest with you so long as you respect the fact that these lizards are highly venomous and always follow your routine in regards to safety then you will not be at any risk. I for one always you tools to handle mine. I certainly follow my daily procedures in regards to husbandry needs. I always do a head count so as to locate before entering their enclosure. basic common sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
tbh as in the event of any bite most of the treatment instructions for the hospital would come from a doctor that is trained in the treatment of venomous animal bites either in person or over the phone.
Fair enough - I know that many American keepers write up specific protocols, particularly in cases of envenomations where a doctor is likely to want to treat using fasciiotomy (i.e. some keepers do not want prophylactic incisions to be made to alleviate the swelling and pressure; other keepers are willing to go ahead with the treatment).

As I am aware that Gila bites do involve some level of swelling, fasciiotomy would be a potential treatment.

I for one always you tools to handle mine. I certainly follow my daily procedures in regards to husbandry needs. I always do a head count so as to locate before entering their enclosure. basic common sense.
What tools specifically do you use, Snakekeeper - and exactly what are your procedures aside from the "head count" ? I'm eager to know the "ins and outs" of how a wide range of keepers manage them, so that I can begin building a personal plan of how I am going to manage, based on the best practices of others.
 

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well the problem they have in the states is doctors doing fasciotomies when they arnt neccessary, theres reports of doctors doing the procedure without even checking the comparmental pressure, there are situations where it would be really foolish to refuse as it could risk loosing the limb, I would imagine that it wouldnt be done here without it being completely neccessary.

The basic protocol to tide you over as you get to hospital is important but once in the hospital the doctors would want to be speaking to the proffesionals at LSTM or a similar institution :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
That's very good to know, SiUK - I have read about the unnecessary fasciiotomies.

Although I know the "plan" is "don't get bit, stupid" - how would you handle a bite situation should it occur while you wait for the ambulance to arrive? Although where I am living is actually quite convenient for a hospital (it's five minutes walk away and the ambulance station is five minutes' drive down the road) the place where we are discussing doing the "mentorship" of sorts is not quite so conveniently located!
 

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What tools specifically do you use, Snakekeeper - and exactly what are your procedures aside from the "head count" ? I'm eager to know the "ins and outs" of how a wide range of keepers manage them, so that I can begin building a personal plan of how I am going to manage, based on the best practices of others.[/quote]

I use a range of soft ended pincher tongs; mainly a 24inch pair which I find more comfortable to use. I'll start with the set-up so that you get a basic image in your head. First of all I keep them in an enclosure, 4ftL x 4ftW x 4ftH. The door is an aluminum frame with double glazed glass like your normal average double glazing windows but in the form of a door which opens out. The lock that I use is a thumb-press lock and not a handle to avoid any unwanted tampering by straying visitors. The vivarium enclosure is built of stone around brick giving the interior a rocky look. Usual substrate of sand semi-coarse along with a variety of rocks. UV Powersuns and 500W IR bulbs (2X 250W) attached to a PPH thermostat. Now the enclosure has a 4 inch ledge at the front base to avoid them from falling out although it is highly unlikely I still had it done as a safety measure. That's basically it.. the head count is a MUST each time I enter their enclosure as complacency is what normally causes the unwanted bite. You must never forget to count bodies and always take care when feeding. I feed them using a 24inch pair of tweezers and I always have to stand and watch them all eat because if one finishes earlier then a frenzy occurs which isn't a pretty sight. Your natural instinct would be to get your hands in there and separate them but believe me that would be the worst thing that you could possible do. I almost got tagged that way. Now I simply feed the prey head first and I do mean head first as when you keep more than one gila it's best to feed them the prey head first so that they can both easily swallow at near enough the same time. Cuts out alot of chaos believe me. I have met alot of zookeepers that handle their gilas but I wouldn't recommend it even though they are slow moving, when rattled they can turn quite sharply ans snap extremely quickly. In fact I heard about a keeper at a zoo which I shall not mention here who got himself bitten by their gilas which wouldn't loosen its grip and he was hospitalised for over a month. He almost didn't make from what I was told. I have read a few posts in here which state that Gila monster venom isn't as potent as venomous snakes, however, I beg to differ. Their venom is seriously potent depending on the duration in which they are chewing on your hand, fingers or whatever they have chosen to tag. The longer they grip, and believe me it aint easy to remove an angry Gila, you will see that when you first feed them, they just simply do not let go once their jaws have snapped their prey, the more potentially harmful the venomous bite. Treatment is easy either and I would advise that you visit a few hospitals near you and prepare a statergy if god fobid you do get bitten. I suppose that is the case for all venomous reptiles.. Anyone who hasn't been in contact with one of their local hospitals and prepared emergency treatment procedures must be out of their minds. To conclude, there really isn't that much in regards to keeping Gilas apart from a secure enclosure, use of handling and feeding tools, visual head counts, and emergency treatment procedures in place. Oh yes I do sometimes where elbow high heavy duty gloves when I do need to get up close to them. Usually in order to treat them. Hope i've helped and the best of luck, they are amazing lizards!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's incredibly helpful, Snakekeeper, thank you!
 

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personally if I was bitten i would secure the snake and get the person with me to call an ambulance, species depending I would wrap the limb with a pressure bandage, and grab my protocols, then best thing to do is to try and stay calm and wait for the ambulance, stay still as excessive movement means the venom goes around your body faster, then once the ambulance is there its up to them to treat you as best they can until you get to hospital, they would monitor your symptoms, heart rate, blood pressure ect.. at the hospital with any luck there would already be a doctor on the phone that could explain how to treat you and then they would go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
All things considered, I would have to be as concerned about allergies to antivenom if there WAS one as I was about the venom itself.

The goal will definitely be "don't get bit, stupid."
 
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