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Old 10-12-17, 11:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sluggish boa; need advice!

Hi all, I've become a little concerned over the past few days as my 1.5-year-old hog island boa has become a bit sluggish. He is isually quite active, especially at night, but has pretty much been staying in his hot spot hide the past couple days.
Temps are around 91 F on the hot side and 78 F on the cool side. As it's gotten a little cooler in California lately, I recently added a 100 watt ceramic heater to raise ambient temp a bit. Humidity in the room stays between 43 and 50%. He's never had a problem with shedding.
So, I'm not sure what's going on or if I should be concerned. I cannot see any signs of illness--no respiratory problems, swelling, or skin issues. Eyes are clear so I don't think he's starting a shed or anything.
The only difference I can account for is last Saturday and Sunday I fed him rats (one on each day) that were a little on the small side. Normally I feed him one medium rat but since these were a little small, I fed him two days in a row. The rat on day two was slightly wet and I am concerned he may have swallowed some substrate (aspen bark). But I didn't see any large pieces get swallowed and I used tweezers to remove any pieces he was about to swallow.
A day or two after he fed, I noticed a few urate excretions (one was more runny than usual) and he has not defecated since the feeding.
If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them. I'm getting worried. Thank you.
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Old 10-15-17, 07:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Sluggish boa; need advice!

This is often a good sign of an impending shed cycle in my more active snakes. Generally, humidity inside the enclosure will be different than the room's humidity. If you kept your house 70-80% you'd quickly become overrun with mold, but it's possible the humidity may be higher inside the enclosure or they have a humid pocket they can hang out in and that's why you haven't run into problems yet.

Shedding happens in these stages:

1. Beginning of shed: hiding away, pink belly, darkening of colors, scale separation in the head sometimes apparent in this stage but usually not until they go blue. I can usually notice subtle color/iridescence changes a couple days before their belly goes pink, and their bellies go pink a few days to a week before they actually turn blue.

2. "Blue phase": they will turn a milky blue all over, especially apparent around the eyes and belly, and any dark pigmented areas. This generally lasts a few days to a week.

3. They clear up. The blue tint goes away, and they will look much like they normally do, this lasts anywhere from one day to a week before they actually shed. You can miss this stage if they shed on the same day they clear up, and you're not checking on them every day (which I don't advise doing anyways).

Always feed one prey item, even if that prey item is undersized. If you do feed multiples, they must be equal to or less than the weight of their normal prey size and be within the same sitting. Feeding them on separate days means you're giving them the second prey item long after their acidity has reached its peak and fallen. It's still higher than during a fasting period, but not quite high enough to begin digestion of the second prey item properly. He should still digest it fine, but a sensitive individual might not be able to, and could regurgitate up to a week after eating. You do not want to overfeed, so multiples are not recommended, but this one instance should not harm him. I would not make a habit of it, though.

Your boa is also quite large for it's age, if it's already eating medium rats. My boas of that age are either still eating mice or weaned rats. Even my almost 2.5 year olds aren't that big yet. If the mediums don't leave a bulge, I'd feed them every 3-4 weeks. If it does leave a noticeable bulge, I'd either move down a prey size and feed every 2-3 weeks, or feed a medium every 4-5 weeks.
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