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Old 11-30-17, 08:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Seasonal change in feeding behavior?

Just wanted to get some opinions in order to be prepared. The situation, my racer starting about 1-1.5 months ago has started to eat less and even more recently refused to eat (only a little over a week now, but the longest he's gone without food since I've had him, except when in shed). Given the timing, I've wondered if he might be picking up some seasonal cues that are telling him to brumate. I've tried to keep conditions as uniform as possible, his light/dark cycle hasn't changed and the temps are in the mid to low 80's during the day (warm side). This is my second fall with him and though he wasn't eating well last fall, he was new and I attributed it to racer feeding difficulties. Once he started eating well, in January, he has been reliable until now. I haven't notice him decreasing activity nor does he spend more time on the cool side of the tank. Also, does not appear to be getting ready to shed.

So my questions, Is brumation prep a possible explanation? I've had turtles before that stopped eating in fall and didn't start again until spring despite being in controlled conditions. If this is possible, what is the best way to proceed? Allow him to brumate fully? Do something to reverse it?

or if it's something else, just keep offering food and see what happens? Appreciate any comments or suggestions.
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Old 11-30-17, 11:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Seasonal change in feeding behavior?

I don't keep racers so I don't know much about their husbandry and metabolism. Generally speaking lots of snakes, especially males, will slow down or go off feed during the colder months and breeding seasons. A couple of mine go months without eating with no issues. You could try dialing your feeding frequency back and see if his hunger picks up. I've started offering less frequent and smaller meals to all my snakes this time of year. We call it the cold and lean season. I feed them every 14-21 days now vs. their usual 10-14 day feeding schedule. I have one finicky eater and she's been more consistent now that I'm offering food more sparingly.
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Old 12-01-17, 01:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Seasonal change in feeding behavior?

My NA natives seem to vary in how much they seasonally go off food even in the same species and it seems to become more likely with age. My pines are in their first year and I am having trouble keeping the pickier one eating. My oldest bull snake is pretty much not eating after being finicky about things for months and my younger male texas bull seems to only reduce food intake. He was eating the odd fuzzy mouse through his first winter until Feb. The female is still willing to eat more than she probably should and took a medium rat in blue last week. The corns seem less affected but they pretty much inhabit only warm areas without a need to brumate. Racers have populations up into Canada so I would imagine like bull/gopher snakes there might be more variation. The 4year old rosy boa stops eating for a lot longer than the colubrids and last year went 4months without eating, ate 2 meals, and went 2 more months before eating all summer to fully refuse all food over a month ago.

If their behavior doesn't show a problem I learned to just give up and feed less while watching their weight. Most that are still putting on a lot of growth even still continued to gain size last winter on reduced food. The older male bull though keeps not even coming out enough to drink water and stay hydrated so I probably have to fully brumate him. I couldn't get things ready as quickly as I planned and he started digging a better cave and not basking back at the end of Aug. I delayed him by raising the ambient temp so the cool areas can't get as cool but he's back to refusing to leave his cave or eat anything bigger than a gerbil/very small adult rat periodically.
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Old 12-01-17, 09:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Seasonal change in feeding behavior?

Appreciate the info and help. It sounds like I should expect him to eat less, should feed less frequently, keep an eye on his weight and make sure he comes out to drink. Great info. Thanks.
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