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Old 03-01-18, 08:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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BRB Feeding Questions

I'm starting to think I was sold a brand new neonate BRB that's never actually fed before.

He was 27 gms the day I brought him home. From what I've found online, which hasn't been much, neonate BRBs are usually 35-40 gms. So he's either the runt of the litter or he's lost a significant portion of his birth weight. I'm pissed. I assumed that, since I was buying directly from a breeder this time, I would be getting a healthy, well-established feeder, but apparently not.

How do I get a snake that's never fed before to take its prey?
How many grams can he lose before he's in danger?
Do baby BRBs ever starve to death because they simply will not eat?

I spoke with someone at the breeding company - The Gourmet Rodent, a VERY large reptile breeding operation in Florida. They told me their babies are fed every 4-5 days on live pinky mice, but since they're a large breeder they have no specific records of my particular baby. If that's true and he has been fed previously, it's now been at least 10 days since he's eaten. Based on his size though, I have my doubts.

I was under the impression that boas were voracious feeders that were way easier to feed than ball pythons. My baby BP stuck an adult mouse right off the tongs 3 days after I brought her home from PetSmart.

So, yeah, surprise, surprise, I got a better established feeder from a mass market chain than I did from a so-called reputable breeder. If they weren't 3 hours away, I'd take the baby back to them so they can get it feeding properly before it starves to death.

Husbandry notes:
20x10x7 glass enclosure with 3 sides occluded and all but 2.5 inches of the screen top blocked by plastic. Temps are: 87 (UTH) at the warm end and 74 ambient and humidity is being maintained 95%+. He has 2 hides and a water bowl, cypress mulch for substrate and a live pinky mouse snuggle buddy.
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Old 03-02-18, 07:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

My young BRB doesnt eat when people are watching. I leave the live pinky near her and leave the room. When I come back a few minutes later it is wrapped, if not consumed already. This past feeding day my wife wasnt completely satisfied with that and was worried she wasnt going to eat so she dangled the pinky in front of the snake...and got a strike to her finger for it almost immediately. So apparently mine is just bored by the pinkies and wanted a little sport lol. If you chose to do the dangle, use tongs.

Your husbandry sounds pretty in line with mine. My bedding is cypress/eco earth mix and I have 3 hides but those are small differences.
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Old 03-02-18, 12:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

How long have you had your critter phenyx, how many meals has he refused, and are you feeding live or f/t? Sometimes new arrivals take a while to get going but I've never had a healthy snake starve itself to death when consistently offered food. I had one young snake that didn't eat for the first month but she finally got on track even though she's still a finicky feeder. I'm a firm believer that the hunger ALWAYS wins in the end. Keep offering food every 10-14 days and your boy should get with the program.
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Old 03-02-18, 02:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Question Re: BRB Feeding Questions

He's had his live (barely now) pinky mouse in with him for well over 12 hours. I'm surprised the poor thing is still alive, but it is. He has zero interest. Every 10-14 days? But babies are supposed to eat every 4-5 days! I'm so confused.

So many posts here say leave it alone! Don't touch it until it eats! Zero handling! But in the next sentence the post says get a scale and keep track of your baby's weight to ensure it isn't losing too much.

How exactly is one supposed to get a baby snake out of its hide, remove it from the enclosure and put it on the scale to weigh it without handling it?

For that matter, since the live pinky has found its way into the hide with Salazar, how do I get the soon-to-be-dead pinky out of the hide without further freaking the snake out?

Because the hides are tiny and dark I can't tell which one Salazar is in unless I A) lift the hide and look or B) use a flashlight and shine it inside. I'm sure both of these are equally disturbing to the snake.

"Absolute zero contact until it eats" sounds good on paper, but I can't see how it's possible.
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Last edited by phenyx; 03-02-18 at 02:45 PM..
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Old 03-02-18, 04:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

Phenyx- When we say no handling until he eats that's referring more to recreational handling. It's ok if you have to handle him briefly for cage maintenance or if you just want to weigh him. Also when I say to offer food every 10-14 days that's only so you don't waste a lot of feeders, and only until he's eating consistently, then you can assume a normal feeding schedule. Are you feeding him at night? Sometimes they're a little shy and will only eat in the dark when no one's watching. Another trick you may want to try is putting the snake and the feeder in a deli cup or paper bag together where the snake has nothing else to focus on. The pinky can't hurt your snake so there's no risk of injury. Keep at it and he'll eat eventually.
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Old 03-02-18, 06:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

I've only tried feeding at night because it made no sense to me to try to feed a nocturnal animal in the daytime. I put his live pinky in with him last night around 8 pm EST. As of this writing at 7:53 pm EST, the pinky has been in there almost 24 hours. I have no idea how it's still alive, but it is. It's in his tiny warm spot hide with him. I even covered most of his enclosure with a towel all night long for even greater darkness. Darkness is not the issue.

A few days prior to the live pinky, I had tried a live fuzzy. Though it was appropriately sized, he showed even less interest if that's possible.

I haven't done any "recreational handling" with Salazar at all. I've picked him up and moved him a few times when I've misted his enclosure or added more substrate but that's it.

At this point I don't even want to handle him because I'm afraid I'll get attached to him and then have to watch him die.
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Old 03-02-18, 10:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

This is Salazar and his snuggle buddy. That little 2 gram live pinky has been in there since 8 pm Thursday March 1st and it's still kicking. They've been together in the tiny warm hide since last night and it's now 11 pm. He's bright and shiny and not cloudy at all so he's not in shed. He just has no concept that this is food. I just read a very long post about a BRB that had continuing regurg issues and eventually had to be euthanized. That did not inspire confidence. One of the comments said that BRBs sometimes never develop proper digestive systems and now I'm even more depressed and hopeless about his chances than I was before.
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File Type: jpg Salazar and his snuggle buddy.jpg (50.5 KB, 33 views)
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Last edited by phenyx; 03-02-18 at 10:09 PM..
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Old 03-03-18, 08:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

I'd go ahead and remove the pinky and give it to your BP. If my snakes don't eat a meal that's left overnight they have to wait until the next scheduled feeding date. Offering food frequently after a refusal is usually just a wasted effort. Give him some time to get really hungry and try again. Your BRB most likely won't starve itself to death. I've never seen it happen with a healthy snake. Some are just fussy feeders or hard to get started. I have one myself and I know it can be frustrating but my attitude is it's our job to provide them with food and a comfortable environment. It's on them to eat. It sounds like you're doing all the right things so just hang in there. A couple of weeks without food isn't a big deal. Even young snakes can go months without food. Your boy still looks healthy and not emaciated at all so I wouldn't worry too much just yet. Keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 03-03-18, 01:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

As of about 1 am this morning the pinky was missing. I don't know if he actually ate it or if it died on its own and somehow got buried in the substrate during one of his burrowings. He tends to really churn up his substrate when he burrows. I don't feel as relieved as I thought I would.

How long should I wait before offering him another?

If he is one of those snakes that prefers to eat in secret, at his leisure, and when no one's watching, how does one accomplish this with an F/T prey item (because eventually I will switch him over) that will quickly cool off and no longer ping his IR?
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Old 03-03-18, 01:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

If he ate the pinky I'd offer him another one in 7-10 days or when he starts actively roaming for food. Once he's better acclimated to the new environment and eaten a few more times he should finish his meals a little sooner. Some snakes will eat f/t prey at room temperature and with others you may have to reheat the prey item with a hair dryer and try offering again. I will only do this for my young snakes. If my older snakes don't take their food from tongs and it hasn't been eaten after an hour or two I'll remove the prey item and give it to one of my other snakes and the snakes that refuses will eat again in a couple of weeks. I used to get upset when a snake would refuse a meal but not anymore. I've learned that they know what their bodies need and they'll eat when they're ready. Don't let 'em drive you bonkers with their snakey behavior.
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Old 03-03-18, 03:47 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

Most BRBs are born under 30 grams, my BRBs have been large babies at 31-33 grams and one was a whopping 36 or 37 grams. But that isn't the norm, that breeder just seems to get large babies.

I'd worry if he lost more than 20% of his weight or started to look underweight.

I feed my baby BRBs every 7-10 days. 4-5 days is not enough time to digest their food, and most of it will go to waste, though they'll still rapidly grow so they are better equipped to take larger meals.

Baby BRBs are notorious for refusing food because they're an incredibly shy species. Make sure it has plenty of hides, cover, and some bedding to burrow into, and do not handle at all until it starts eating for you (as mentioned, this refers to recreational handling and not when weighing weekly or every other week). I would offer maybe every 2 weeks, to reduce stress and increase the chance of it taking the food.

At 27 grams, a fuzzy mouse should be fine, pinks are barely more than glorified water bags with some milk in them. He looks more than large enough to take a fuzzy mouse, that pink is barely a snack.

With UTHs/heat tape I keep my hot spot around 83-86F, with ambients 79-81F. Make sure you're using a temp gun to measure the surface temp of the enclosure underneath the bedding, and not using a thermometer.

Is the UTH on a thermostat?

In my experience, snakes will eat at any time of the day, including my BRBs. Just feed whenever you get around to it, and they should take it. Some may not, but most should.



As for the BRB with regurge issues, he was mine, and he was a special case. He had a congenital issue I suspect was genetically tied to his morph, Picasso stripe. From what I hear, many owners have similar problems with this morph, though not to the degree I experienced with him. I doubt you will encounter the same situation with this baby.
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Old 03-08-18, 01:42 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: BRB Feeding Questions

If you want to check the substrate for the dead body then comb through it. You shouldn't have any issue.
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