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Old 08-25-14, 03:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

My first post is gonna be a doozy yall!

I wish yall had an illness forum that I could post this in. Hopefully the right people will see it and can help. Long story short, I have a sweet little sand boa named Carrot who is not doing so well. We bought frozen mice from a local pet store instead of a chain store. The man told us she was ready for hoppers (she was eating 2 fuzzies per week), so we did as he said. Carrot had a lot of trouble with it and hasn't eaten since. We took her to the vet after a month to find she hadn't digested it. Another month has passed and we have done everything the vet said with no results. We raised the cage temp, cleaned it, offered only pinkies, brained feeders, cleaned the feeding box, soaked her daily, and offered food in cage. The vet gave her mineral oil and an enima to get the mouse out of her, oral liquids and vitamins, and a steroid shot.

She has been a lot more relaxed since we moved Lily (our female albino sand boa) in with her and has quit trying to get out of her cage (something that started two weeks after she stopped eating). They are very close and like to be near one another (something that sincerely surprised us both!). Also, they were both professionally sexed as female and Lily is only about 4 or 5 months, so they have plenty of room for now.

Reptile's Info: Kenyn Sand Boa, female, and about 9 months. We got her about February or March from PetSmart. Her tankmate is Lily, a 4-5 month old female albino sand boa. She never refused food until now.

Handling: We handle them both every day save on feeding day and the day after that for digestion. They are both very social and get upset if they go without being held for long. They love their backs stroked and their chins scratched. They are very passive and had fun being passed around the vet's office from nurse to nurse. Carrot isn't to fond of the vet for obvious reasons, but shows no aggression and mostly just tries to crawl back to us (or a nurse) when the vet has her. Niether have ever bit or tried to bite anyone since we have had them.

Feeding: Carrot was eating 2 frozen fuzzy mice every Sunday. They were thawed in room temp water and put in warm water right before feeding. We use filtered water (my dad has a well fed from a spring, so we use his instead of ours. It's extremely clean, but we filter it anyway to be safe). She is put in a critter keeper with a washcloth and a small under tank heating pad underneath that takes up 1/3rd of the critter keeper. She is not held that day and taken directly from her tank to the critter keeper. We dry the mouse well using a paper towel and use long feeding tongs. The trouble started when we fed her a hopper rat (they we're the same size as a hopper mouse because they were miniature) we got from a non-chain store during a mouse recall. She had trouble with it and hasn't eaten since. She's lost a lot of weight, but has shed once and is about to again (they are still young, so they shed about once a month). She is normally ravenous the day after a shed. We occasionally use a calcium spray on the mice. We tried to add vitamin drops to the water, but she refused to drink it.

Hydration: We have a water dish that has a gradient from shallow to deep. We use filtered spring water changed every day to every other day. Before she became sick, she got a soak once a week (she loves them). Now it's every day to every other day. She always drinks the water during. We mist daily until the aspen is not dry, but not sticking to fingers. The hydrometer reads 20-50%. During shedding, we increase it.

Feces: Black. She went an entire month without a bm. After enima, she produced white feces with yellow urea. The vet has not tested for parasites, but will be the next visit.

Symptoms: Not eating for 2 months, not pooping for a month, and weight loss of nearly 20 grams (according to vet scale). She has no bad smell, leakage, wounds, discharge, breathing issues, skin discoloration, or swelling. The only remotely odd thing (other than obvious) is I have witnessed her sneeze on a couple of occasions.

Cage Info: 20 gallon glass cage with locking screen top. Under tank heater with rhenostat in tank to control temp. It is located in our bedroom away from air vents and fans. It's low traffic and quiet with no tv or electronics to make noise. Small amount of natural light from windows on the opposite side of the room. The top of the cage is about 4 feet above the floor.

Temperature: Warm spot was max 95 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 92. Vet had us increase it to 98. Cool spot is about 80 under aspen. Climbing tree for temp down to 75 if they need it. Temps are measured using a rhenostat and a digital reptile terrarium thermometer/hydrometer.

Geographical Location - USDA Hardiness Zone 8a, Kppen Climate Classification of humid subtropical climate, and elevation of 300-400 feet above sea level.
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Old 08-27-14, 02:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

Carrot was force fed pinkies today. We're running out of options. We are gonna try live next (it's a long drive to the nearest place to get any). Please, if anyone has any suggestions, we are willing to try just about anything.
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Old 08-27-14, 05:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Angry Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I'm sorry this is going to sound really harsh, but how about letting the snake be a snake? You're killing it with kindness.

First of all, something general.. Stop treating it like a hamster, start treating it like a snake. Snakes do not need to be handled every day, and the behavior it shows when not handled a while is probably the snake getting comfortable.. not begging to come out.. They do not have mammalian emotions, they might be curious and don't mind to be taken out every now and then. And i would never discourage that, unless the animal is unhealthy. Every snake is different, and one snake can handle a lot more interaction than another. But every day is overkill for any snake, especially a day after eating. This is not only too much, but also very unhealthy for their intestines. If your vet tells you otherwise, i suggest you find one who knows their stuff a bit better. After eating leave the animal alone for at least 48 hours.

For the snake not eating, House it alone and leave it alone. Snakes housed together often lie together, because they both prefer the same temperature. Doesn't make it a social act. Stop handling it, don't hover around in front of the tub. Let the snake have a feeling of complete security, like nothing is going to grab it. Having not eaten in such a long time means its not feeling well, handling does not contribute to this in a positive way. Make sure it has plenty of hides as well, don't get nervous if you don't see the animal for a couple of days.

Stop soaking the snake, a snake can drink fine on its own. And it has a water-dish so it could also soak on its own, being forcibly soaked is unnecessary for a healthy animal, and doing it too much might make a healthy animal sick. Snakes don't drink water every day, not in the wild or in captivity. And yours does, another unhealthy habit. So basically let the animal regulate it's own hydration, they're perfectly capable of doing that. Good reasons to soak: Badly stuck shed, or any medical condition that requires soaking.

Leave the snake completely alone for at least a week, do nothing else than make sure that is has clean water to drink and that the temperatures are alright (without bothering the animal). Defrost some food and put it in the enclosure overnight, do not bother the animal yet again. They can find it on their own. If it's not eaten the next day, try again 2 days later... maybe brain the prey. If the animal is kept properly, and left in peace for a while. It should start eating again when its no longer stressed out.

I've had had several 'difficult' eaters brought to me, and i always got them eating. By just giving them peace and quiet, not every snake can handle that level of forced human social interaction. If they have eaten before, and they do not have an obvious illness.. They are most likely stressed. (Al lot of stressed behavior is misinterpreted as cute social behavior, like crawling towards a familiar smell at a veterinaries office)

Good luck with your snake, hope it will eat again soon. Being forcefully fed is a horrible thing, it might take a while for it to take on food on its own now.
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Old 08-27-14, 06:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I don't handle her for 48 hours after feeding: feeding day and the day after. I want her to rest.

She crawls to our hand if we put it in the cage. If she's not in the mood, we don't pick her up. Believe me, I was very shocked by how affectionate and loving she is and how much she enjoys being held. While Lily is fine with being held less and going back in her cage, Carrot isn't. She would much rather be held and often crawls right back into our hand. If we are holding her and she acts especially wiggly, we put her back in her cage. She's okay with every other day, but any longer and she tries to get out of her cage. Every creature is unique.

We are soaking evety day to every other day because the vet told us too. Carrot is again odd and wont soak otherwise even pre-shed. She was getting 2 or so 10 minute soaks a month before all of this happened,

We tried leaving her alone and leaving food in the cage overnight. We tried braining too. We have been trying to feed her every day to every other day per vet's orders. He problems started when she was given a feeder that was too big for her and she couldn't digest it. I know you are trying to help, but you are being a little condisending. I appreciate your help and I hope I didn't make you upset with me, but could you... I don't know, be a little more considerate and friendly in your comments? I would sincerely appreciate it.
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Old 08-27-14, 10:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I would definitely move Carrot into her own enclosure, first and foremost. when you keep animals together, you have no clue which ones have defecated, or which ones that may be sick...The sneezing you heard could be an indicator of an RI.... Have you seen any mucus or bubbles coming out of her mouth?

And is the vet you took Carrot to a qualified Reptile Vet? A lot of Vets that deal with small mammals do not specialize in exotics, such as reptiles.

Also, there really isn't any need to dust the prey item with calcium powder....they get their calcium through the bones of their prey....

I would definitely not handle carrot until she is eating, and eating consistently....
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Old 08-27-14, 10:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewind View Post
I don't handle her for 48 hours after feeding: feeding day and the day after. I want her to rest.
Good, i probably misread it now that i read that part again, thank you for clarifying.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewind View Post
She crawls to our hand if we put it in the cage. If she's not in the mood, we don't pick her up. Believe me, I was very shocked by how affectionate and loving she is and how much she enjoys being held. While Lily is fine with being held less and going back in her cage, Carrot isn't. She would much rather be held and often crawls right back into our hand. If we are holding her and she acts especially wiggly, we put her back in her cage. She's okay with every other day, but any longer and she tries to get out of her cage. Every creature is unique.
All good and great, and yes i believe yu believe it. However you're still putting human emotions on a reptile. Every research on it ever stated that reptiles just do not display the same emotional bonding as mammals do. And i will never believe it. 'tries to get out of her cage' does not have to do anything with affection.. I'll drop this subject, we won't ever agree on it.(Also i really don't want this topic turning into a debate about snake emotions, it is about carrot not eating) So lets agree to disagree.
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We are soaking evety day to every other day because the vet told us too. Carrot is again odd and wont soak otherwise even pre-shed. She was getting 2 or so 10 minute soaks a month before all of this happened,
A healthy snake never needs to be soaked, this tells me your vet is slightly full of hot air. Stop soaking your snakes for no reason, it can do more harm than good. Especially if you do it so often. They will soak if they wish to, if they don't soak at all? No harm done. Sand boa's are not the type of snake to go for a swim in the wild either.

Btw the previous part i quoted, collides with this one in nearly every way.
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Before she became sick, she got a soak once a week (she loves them). Now it's every day to every other day.
So which one is wrong?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewind View Post
We tried leaving her alone and leaving food in the cage overnight. We tried braining too. We have been trying to feed her every day to every other day per vet's orders.
Hearing you have been soaking the snake more often since she stopped eating doesn't sound like leaving her alone to me. Leaving her alone means no interaction whatsoever for at least a week preferably even more. (At least until she eats regularly like she should)

Quote:
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He problems started when she was given a feeder that was too big for her and she couldn't digest it.
I'm sorry but this is a very odd thing to say, if you can see the massive sizes prey a snake cn eat, then you must of fed a ridiculous sized prey. It is not unusual for a snake that has had a large meal, to have a bulge extending way over 48 hours. Sometimes it takes up to 5 or 6 days for a bulge to go away if it was a large meal, does not mean they can't digest it. It just takes a bit longer. Also, if a prey animal is so big it puts so much pressure on their body, they will attempt to push it back out the wrong end. And if it was just poop inside, that the prey Did digest but she just did not poop it out. That is no problem, i had snakes that hoarded 3 meals worth of poop just for the hell of it. (And then poop horse sized poops, yay retics)

In the Netherlands we say a normal meal is 1,5 times as thick as the thickest part of the snake, and a big meal is 2 times as thick. In the wild they don't look that closely, if they can catch something 4 times as thick and they think they can eat it, they will try to eat it, and they usually can. Was the prey really that much bigger? I don't think you would feel comfortable feeding an animal that size so i doubt it was. And even if it was, i wonder why the snake did not try to push it back out? Also, if it was not digested, how can it come out using an enema? It would also have started to rot inside the snakes body, if it really wasn't digesting, because the prey would be in the stomach not the intestines. And that would of caused a lot of different issues. This and the soaking really makes me doubt the skill of your veterinarian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewind View Post
I know you are trying to help, but you are being a little condisending. I appreciate your help and I hope I didn't make you upset with me, but could you... I don't know, be a little more considerate and friendly in your comments? I would sincerely appreciate it.
I was not aware i said anything unfriendly, the hamster comment might not be the most kind things to say it. But it was the easiest metaphor i could think of on the spot. I am not upset but merely stating the facts as i know and experienced them, but it is most surely true i do no tend to sugarcoat anything. I also however do not try to be condescending and i apologize if my comment made it feel like i did.

I still stand to my point, i think this animal is stressed out to the core. An enema, constant forced soaking, forced feeding, trips to the vet. It all sounds like a horrible ordeal for a small snake. Leaving it alone and housing separately seems the best way to go.

Edit: Also what Ck said is true, the calcium is unnecessary.
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Old 08-27-14, 12:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

Sorry. Let me clarify...

We soaked her once a week to every other week before she got sick, or about two to three times a month. Otherwise she has a hard time shedding. She never soaks on her own.

She went a month without eating before we involved a vet. We tried everything including not handling for a straight week before leaving food in cage overnight, cleaning the feeder box, and braining.

I litterally mean she couldn't digest it. Over a month without food and the xray clearly showed the mouse mid way in her body. That's when we were instructed to start soaking and she was given an enima and mineral oil. It had squished and rotted and came out as black stuff and some white. I can't discribe it, but it didn't look like a normal bm. Some came out with enima and the rest came out with soaking. I don't know why she couldn't digest it. She didn't poop for a month until the enima and soaking.

The vet I use is a general vet, but has had reptile training and is co-treating her with a reptile specilist at LSU (couple states away). He is the only one we have found that is remotely familiar with snakes. Believe me, we drove hours to vets that supposidily worked with reptiles just to discover they were clueless.

The atempted feeding every day to every other day has been the last 3 weeks or so.

No bubbles noted. Nothing around the mouth looks abnormal or any red stripes or rash on the body. I've been watching her since she sneezed and it looked to be a fluke.

We put in Lily because she is much more calm snd relaxed when they are together. We are trying to do everything to keep her calm and moved Lily in... between 2-3 weeks ago I think? If you noticed, I'm not the best at timetables. :-[

I guess I should explain a bit about how I reacted. My snake is ill and I'm scared of loosing her. I'm already stressed to the point of tears, so it doesn't take much to push me over. Plus, I have a severly hurt tooth that needs a root canal and 4 wisdom teeth trying and failing to come in pushing on it making it worse so I'm in constant pain. I also have hemiplegic migraines that sporatically temporarily paralyze half my body (making me legally disabled) and causes extream pain on top of a boat load of other issues. To top it all off, I'm an Aspie so I'm not the greatest with social cues, reading between the lines, sarcasim, paraphrasing, and so on. My partner thinks it's adorible that I can be sarcastic myself, but take everything that everyone else says litterally. I know that is tmi, but I figured you would want to know why I asked what I did of you. I really like data, statistics, and scholarly articals if you have any. I do random research for fun.

PS: I'm posting from my phone without the luxary of spell check, so sorry for errors. I can't smell to shave my wife! XD

Last edited by bluewind; 08-27-14 at 12:47 PM.. Reason: terrible spelling and name of college
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Old 08-27-14, 01:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I would cut down the feeding attempts to once a week....any more than that in my opinion stresses out the animal even more and makes it not want to eat.
If this was a healthy animal, I would ask if you were sure you have a female, as male sand boas will routinely go off fed when they're sexually mature and ready to breed.


The white parts that come out with a bowel movement is called urates and it completely normal....I'm just wondering if your snake is impacted....from what, I don't know...
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Old 08-27-14, 07:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

She was sexed via probing by the vet, so she's a little miss.

Oh yeah. I know the white is normal. The black was what didn't look right.The color a texture were wrong.

I wondered if she was impacted too, but we are extreamly careful about feeding for just that reason. Plus, one of the vets we went to who wasn't completely clueless, this one, and the expert all agree her problems oraginated with the hopper rat. The guy we are going to now worried that it's psycological and after having a negative experence with feeding, she might not want to repeat it. It's only one theory he has, but it's the one that bothers him the most, so he's trying to rule out everything else.

By the way, we spoke to him today about leaving her alone for a week and then trying feeding and he said to give it a try, but keep an eye on her when she surfaces from the aspen and try to do a visual check. With another shed comming up and her refusal to soak, I will just have to mist the top of the aspen well and hope for the best. He wants us to try to feed her Monday and if she still refuses, he wants to see her Tuesday.
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Old 08-28-14, 07:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

Couldn't find the edit button, so had to post again...

Just got a call back from the vet. He said she showed no oral or respatory issues any of the times he has examined her. He also called the expert who said paracites were extreamly unlikely. We are gonna leave her alone until Monday when he said he would like us to try live pinkies. I've read several articles about feeding them lizards, so I think I will bring it up next week to see if it would be a good option. It's gonna be hard to find live pinkies - harder still for lizards - but we will do what we have to to get her well.

She hasn't came out since the force feeding which is part good because we know she wants to be left alone and part bad because we can't visually check her. Normally she would crawl out of her aspen and lay down in my hand if we were changing water or something, but she hasn't come out at all, even to drink or used the rough wood decor piece to assist with shedding. By the way, the tank has aspen bedding with a shallow water dish with a gradient, a rough wood stick thing that is good for both hiding under and climbing, and a cave with two enterances, a large middle part, and a small more confined area to the side. It's stone, the inside is smooth and outside is textured, and it reminds me of the house shapes on The Flintstones. We have another similar cave that was in Lily's tank that we ocasionally add.
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Old 08-29-14, 12:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I hope no one minds if I update daily to every other day. I.would just edit old posts, but the option isn't there.

Carrot still had not surfaced from her aspen. I weighed my options and decided to do a visual check since she had been force fed chopped up pinkies which could have caused issues that would need immediate attention. I slowely and carefully picked up the aspen in pinches so not to startle her. I had a moment of fear when I saw her laying in an odd position (in a U or O shape with her tail on her head) and dead still. I called her name which led to her flicking her tongue. I went on with a quick visual and gentaly recovered her. My obsevation is as follows: No oral or respitory abnormalities witnessed. Pale skin consistant with upcoming shed, but not in blue yet. Appears lathargic, but she was not observed at full arousal so could be because of that. During last handling, the last 1 inch or so of her tail appeared stiff. Visual inspection appeared to show this is still true.
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Old 08-29-14, 01:04 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I'll agree that you shouldn't anthropomorphize your snakes. They have emotions, but not our emotions. And even though I think their intelligence is underestimated, they are also creatures that rely highly on instinct. If you treat your snake like a mammal, you're going to cause more problems than you're fixing. They don't want to be doted on.
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Old 08-29-14, 02:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

You need to understand snakes are like fish nice to look at but you don't hold them think of it this way if a giant picked you up how would you feel
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Old 08-29-14, 08:28 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

I'm guessing you don't own a betta? I have a sorority in a 25 gallon tank and they love interacting with me. They like to follow my finger and eat from my hand. My old male (seperate tank) who passed away a few months ago use to play with.a ball and would come to the top of the water for a pet. Plenty of aquatic pets have very little individuality or interest in human interation beyond feeding, but there are several breeds that seak it out. Again, every creature is unique.
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Old 08-29-14, 10:39 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: 9 month old sand boa refuses to eat!

Sorry but, why do you ask us for advise, if you're going to choose to ignore it when 'weighing the options'.

It is not strange for a snake not to show itself for days, especially if it's going to shed. Snake's don't have ears like we do, they can't recognize their names. It is normal for a tail to be a bit stiff during shed, its just a thin piece of bone and meat with some dead skin wrapped around it.
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