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Old 05-14-17, 11:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Swollen Throat Help

Hello I have a boa and she I noticed today that her throat is swollen after changing the bedding to pine shavings and feeding her. It was the first time I used pine shavings and I noticed that some got in her mouth during feeding. Now her throat is swollen underneath. I opened her mouth and there was some white film on the left side of her mouth but her breathing tube seemed clear. I was wondering if anyone knows what could of happened and how to I fix the issue? Thank you
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Old 05-14-17, 01:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

If I'm not mistaken...you should never use PINE!!!! Pine contains oils that are toxic to snakes!!! Get her out of there, clean the cage, use Cypress, Aspen, or ReptiBark. You also might want to consult a vet, though some here might disagree and just tell you to get the snake out of that viv until you clean it thoroughly. In the meantime, just use paper towels until you get some other substrate...newspaper will do too.

Kiln dried pine is NOT ok to use for Ball Pythons, especially not hatchlings. Pine and Cedar contain phenols which can cause significant health problems.

Not to sound condescending, but next time do some reading or ask in forums before using something inside your viv (i.e. cleaning solutions, substrate, heating fixtures, etc.).
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Old 05-14-17, 05:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

Agreed pine is toxic to most if not all reptiles!! Change it asp I like to use aspen bedding as it is none toxic and pretty cheap and can be found in many stores even like walmarts carry it.
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Old 05-14-17, 06:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

Kiln dried pine is fine. I know keepers who have used it for a LONG time, and although I prefer aspen, if I could only get kiln dried pine I would use it and I have in the past. Anyone who says different is probably new and has either misread something or believed someone without looking into it themselves. These are usually the same people that say coloured newsprint is bad, perpetuating old or incorrect info. Furthermore, what is being explained wouldn't be a toxic reaction but possibly one of trauma due to substrate being lodged or having nicked something on the way down.


Chris, give it a day or two and keep an eye on it. If things change for the worse in any way go to the vet.
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Old 05-14-17, 06:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

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Originally Posted by Andy_G View Post
Kiln dried pine is fine. Anyone who says different is probably new and has either misread something or believed someone without looking into it themselves.


Chris, give it a day or two and keep an eye on it. If things change for the worse in any way go to the vet.
Andy what makes that kind of pine safer then regular pine shaving?
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Old 05-14-17, 07:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

The process of kiln drying removes the harmful phenols that can cause respiraratory issues. Even when rewetted by water or urates there can simply be no ill effect unless you're using something real nasty and sappy. People have claimed that it's the dust but dust from any substrate can be an irritant. I know of keepers who have even used dessicated pine needles as decoration for decades with no ill effect.

Edit:something to add. There's a really nice substrate in europe that isn't available in North America yet called lignocel...it's got pine in it yet it's heavily used and advocated. I challenge someone to show me proof that a snake diednor even got sick strictly due to being kept on kiln dried pine because of phenols..cedar however I know of 3 cases with veterans in thr hobby before it was figured out.

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Old 05-14-17, 07:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

Great good to learn something new! Thanks for the tip and explaining that to me. I have not ever used it before and I was just wondering how it was made safe for reptiles.
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Old 05-14-17, 10:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

Yeah lignocel is very popular over here and it's a great substrate. Also I know a lot of keepers who used dried pine needles in their naturalistic setups.

Indeed you guys have the northern and southern pine snakes that can be found in such and environment and many of the European colubrids as well.
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Old 05-15-17, 09:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Swollen Throat Help

Kiln dried pine generally does not cause respiratory symptoms or direct contact problems but they did find in rats it was stressing the liver and may risk long term internal organ damage. Unseen problems that will never cause symptoms but just shorter lifespan so I only use pine pellets which are even more strongly heat treated and pressed so there's no oil left. Sometimes I use spruce which is often just sold as "softwood" shavings and doesn't seem to have anywhere near the oils or any smell but it's rarely individually labelled and often contains some pine. If you can find good aspen and afford it then it works but I've also pulled splinters and heard of others having to remove dozens to even hundreds of splinters from various animals they received so I avoid wood altogether except pine pellets when I need to really absorb something like guinea pig urine and have you ever smelled hedgehog poop if you don't dry it out real fast.... All wood products have downsides so if I can get away without them I do.
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