Phoenix Herp performs life-saving surgery on beloved caiman


Silver, a fairly new resident Caiman who lives at the Phoenix Herpetological Society in north Scottsdale, under-went life saving surgery on April 19, removing an infected hind leg.

Silver was a part of a group reptiles from Canada who were transported to the United States in August 2015, after facing the risk of being euthanized, and has remained at PHS.

He is the largest known spectacled caiman in captivity, according to PHS Director of Education and Outreach, Crystie Baker, in an April 21 emailed response to questions. He weights over 200 pounds, which is extraordinarily large for that species, Ms. Baker said.

“We noticed an injury to his back hind foot and his previous keepers said they had noticed it too, but it happened a couple of years ago and nothing has ever come from it,” Ms. Baker explained.

“It recently became enlarged and swollen so we enlisted the help of our vet, Dr. Kiedrowski, who came out and immediately recommended an office visit.”

Silver was sedated on the day of his surgery and transported to Dove Valley Animal Hospital, where Dr. Mike Kiedrowski and Dr. Jose Evans determined an amputation was the best course of action.

“The picture shows the deterioration of one of the lower digits and shows how the bone infection was basically eating away at the bone from the inside out,” Ms. Baker said. “The surgery went really well.”

There was only one time when additional sedatives were needed when Dr. Evans reached a nerve.

“It was a little bit of comic relief to see everyone’s reaction in such a tense situation,” Ms. Baker said.

The surgery went perfectly, and it was a clean amputation.

“Silver has been a trooper,” she explained. “We brought him back to PHS and he is in a recovery enclosure, seperate from other animals and where we can observe him more closely.”

Silver will have approximately an eight week recovery time and during that time he will learn to swim, walk and do everything that a normal caiman would do, Ms. Baker said.

PHS plans to start a fund raising campaign to help with veterinary bills. More information can be found on the PHS website,

“A lot of places would not have chosen the amputation, they would have chosen euthanasia, but when he is so healthy otherwise it just did not make any sense to us,” Ms. Baker said. “Of course being a rescue is hard, but seeing survivor stories like Silver is really rewarding.”

PHS has the second-largest collection of crocodilians — which include crocodiles, alligators and caimans — in the United States, with 21 of the world’s 24 species in residence.

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