Eighteen snakes representing 11 species were subject to mouth swabbing on 58 occasions. Of these swabs, 52.2% were positive for bacteria. A total of 92 bacterial isolates were cultured, representing 30 species of which 81.5% were Enterobacteriaceae, 16.3% Gram positive cocci, and 2.2% anaerobes. Swabs from non-venomous snakes were more commonly bacteriologically sterile than those from venomous snakes ( P=0.0107). The oral bacterial flora did not differ between captive and newly captured snakes. The bacterial species found were not constant in a single snake with time, in the same snake species, the same serpentarium or geographically. The bacteria most commonly cultured were Proteus spp., Pseudomonas spp., Salmonella arizonae and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Colony counts tended to be low. Three or more bacterial species per venomous snake per occasion were more common in winter than summer ( P=0.0192).
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