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Morphological Study of the Oesophagus and Stomach of the Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer

Khamas, W., Reeves, R.
Anatomia, histologia, embryologia 2011 v.40 no.4 pp. 307-313
birds, body length, epithelial cells, esophagus, gophers, histology, mucosa, snakes, stomach
With 2 tables and 7 figures SUMMARY: The gastrointestinal tract of the snake has various distinctions from mammals, birds and other reptiles. Five gopher snakes (Pituophis catenifer) were studied in relation to the gross anatomical measurements of visceral organs relative to body length as well as the histology of the oesophagus and the stomach. The oesophagus closely resembles the empty stomach upon gross examination. A small palpable thickening was observed at the junction of the oesophagus with the stomach. In both the oesophagus and the stomach, there were cellular and structural differences observed in the tunica mucosa which can be linked to the feeding habits and natural biology of the snake when compared to those of mammals. Both oesophagus and stomach were lined by simple columnar to pseudostratified columnar epithelium. There were no glands in the wall of the oesophagus. Scattered ciliated triangular cells (brush cells) were present among the columnar epithelial cells in the distal portion of the oesophagus. The stomach can be divided into three portions (proximal, middle and distal). The stomach has a small non-glandular portion with low folds. After this small non-glandular portion, glands started to appear and gradually increase in quantity. The largest quantity of glands appeared in the middle portion of the stomach with more branching folds resulting in a decrease in the lumen diameter. The tunica muscularis increased in thickness at the oesophageal and the pyloric-duodenal junctions. Positive statistical correlations were established in thickness of the tunica muscularis between proximal and distal portions of the oesophagus and the stomach.