Snake Subspectacular Abscess

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Subspectacular abscess

Infections associated with the eye are commonly seen in snakes. The spectacle, the subspectacular space and the globe may be involved. Infections of the subspectacular space usually occur from ascending infections of the oral cavity. Less commonly they occur from a puncture through the spectacle or a local periocular infection.

  • For more information on the normal anatomy of the eye, see Snake Eye.


Examination of the eye reveals an accumulation of purulent and/or caseous material in the subspectacular space. Bilateral subspectacular abscesses occur and investigation of the oral cavity may reveal a stomatitis adjacent to the openings of the nasolacrimal ducts.

For more information on physical examinations, see Snake Physical Examination.


Diagnosis of a subspectacular abscess is on physical examination and bacteriology. Samples of the subspectacular fluid and any oral lesions are submitted for microscopy, culture and sensitivity. Direct microscopic examination of the material may reveal flagellates. Subspectacular abscesses are often an extension of upper alimentary tract or systemic disease so collection of blood for haematology and biochemistry is advisable.


The treatment of subspectacular abscesses requires a multi-pronged approach. Surgical removal of a 30° wedge of the ventral spectacle allows drainage and flushing. Culture and sensitivity indicate the use of appropriate topical and systemic antibiotics. Treatment of other lesions such as stomatitis needs to be aggressive.

For more information, see Lizard and Snake Surgery.


Poor husbandry such as unhygienic conditions results in immunosuppression and resultant disease. Thorough evaluation and correction of inappropriate husbandry is essential for healthy snakes.

For more information on appropriate husbandry practices, see Snake Housing.