Emergency Surgery Due to Egg-binding

Checkers is a sweet, young female California Kingsnake who we initially took in as a male. Unfortunately, not only did Checkers turn out to be a female, but she was also unexpectedly gravid. Since we were unaware that she was carrying eggs, we did not tend to her as we would with breeding females. As a result, she lacked the extra weight and nutrients required for a female to be strong and healthy enough to lay a clutch of eggs.

She was passing the eggs over the last 10 days and had a ravenous appetite until a couple days ago when her condition suddenly took a turn for the worst. Checkers is currently undergoing surgery to remove the remaining egg(s) and we could use all the good vibes we can get that she recovers well.

The wonderful people of the reptile community have supported us so much in our time of need through donations to fund Checkers’ surgery and kind words to lift our spirits. We are beyond grateful for all of you and feel very fortunate to be a part of such a loving and caring community. Thank you all for your support, it means the world to us!


She’s a beauty for sure. Hoping everything works out for the best


Good luck! We’re wishing for the best. :crossed_fingers:


Two of my (leopard gecko) girls recently had surgery for egg-binding. One pulled through but the other eventually succumbed to unusual complications.

Picture of healed incision under cut

(The retained shed on her toes was promptly removed after photo was taken)

I applaud you for being willing to go the distance and give her such a high quality of care. I’m rooting for her! :crossed_fingers:


I hope she pulls through for you. She’s a gorgeous girl. Can I ask, did you try any at home remedies first?

Checkers is safe at home recovering from her surgery. She has one more appointment next month to have her staples removed, but otherwise she is on the road to healing up :slightly_smiling_face:

Somewhat; in my personal experiences with egg-binding, I have found it best to provide them with a nesting box, keep a dark sheet over the enclosure and leave them be for about a week to allow them to try and pass the eggs on their own before intervening. Almost every time I have simply given my snakes a chance to pass the eggs on their own, they do so within a couple weeks without any issues.

If they haven’t passed any more eggs after a week, I do attempt to assist them w/ a warm water soak or gentle (but brief) massage. I have also aspirated eggs before with great success, but that is something that should only be done under the guidance of a qualified herpetoloculturist.

When I first began breeding and experienced egg-binding, I tried the “immediately go to the veterinarian” approach that is most often recommended; but honestly, after reflecting on my experiences over the years, I think the stress from the premature vet visit made the situation much worse, and by the time surgery was finally considered as a last resort, it was too late. Lesson learned.

Checkers carried a total of 15 slug eggs, 13 of which she was able to pass on her own over the first 10 days. Once she began refusing food and I noticed she was losing more weight and becoming weaker, that’s when I immediately scheduled her for surgery – emphasis on immediately schedueled for surgery. I didn’t waste any time with a separate visit for X-rays, calcium injections, oxytocin shots, etc… don’t wait. IMO, if a snake has not been able to pass the rest of their eggs after a couple weeks and they are refusing to eat and losing weight, opt for surgery because their time at that point is very limited.

All of that said, the “correct” action to take in cases like this is very circumstantial. I only speak on behalf of my own personal knowledge and experience and I am sure others would approach such matters differently. In the end, knowing your animals is key in finding an appropriate solution that gives you the greatest chance at saving them.


Glad everything went well with the operation! I wish her a fast and full recovery.