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Old 08-16-17, 06:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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early brumation?

Just as I'm getting ready to increase feeding before fall really gets here and do further research into details of brumation Nicon (over 6' bull snake) has decided to reduce eating. He ate a guinea pig, shed, refused 2 rats, and is in shed a month later. I see no external health reason for the somewhat increased shed. He was acting strange digging around on the cool side and shoving his head under wood that was not going to fit his body. I thought he was ready for another meal but he refused. Finally he piled substrate around the sides of the largest stone hide, has not come out to bask for a couple weeks, and I went to tempt him with a gerbil today to find him in blue. He's shed 2 other times since I got him late winter/early spring right out of brumation and now it's within a month of each other. No other health issue or mark on him except he's not up to ideal weight from not getting on a good feeding schedule for months after I got him and his 2 sheds have not been in one piece despite humidity in the 60s and I upped it to 80% for a short time this last shed to no effect. It comes off smoothly including head and tail without help but in large chunks instead. I thought I could spend another 2 months making sure he was better fed, hydrated, and probably shed again but maybe he has other ideas?

His warm side is low 80s and his cool side is low 70s with the stone platform right under the heat being a little warmer where he usually spends a few hours a day even during shedding and the room itself is 68-70F. Humidity is low in here over winter but it's been steady 60-70% for at least 2 months across the whole house and the colubrids get misted. My house gets little natural light so I have a full spectrum fluorescent strip mounted above his enclosure on a 10hr schedule which currently he's made a cave so he's not getting light or direct heat.

I'm debating what to do with him. If he were in good weight and my spot I wanted to brumate anything that large didn't rely on some natural temp drop from outside I'd see if he was going to brumate early and let him but neither is true since we are still at least 60F at night. For now I'm going to moisten his cave a little directly because it's mostly dry soil mix and put a small water dish under it with him but I'm thinking I need to increase heat, light, and reduce the size of his 2x2' hide or pull him out regularly to try to get him to eat better before attempting to brumate. He had to complicate it with shedding again. Or if he's started this change should I let him be in 70F and see if he'll eat small meals and do only a partial brumation through the season like my young ones did last year? I just lowered their meal size and they stayed mostly in hiding at room temp but did not fully shut down and did not lose weight even if they didn't grow much until spring when particularly the texas bull went crazy for all food of any size he could get down. This is my first year with adults and one who has brumated before.
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Old 08-16-17, 10:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: early brumation?

How big of a guinea was it? Could just be that the guinea pig was really big and he's not hungry?
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Old 08-16-17, 11:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: early brumation?

About medium rat equivalent not even 3 week old pups but they are crossed with imported giant peruvian meat cuy (same species "guinea pig", different purpose and up to 8lbs adult size) so they don't match typical build and growth of an american guinea pig and will have muscle and fat sooner. I weigh them out for size since they are misleading and account for a higher fat content than a rat but a slightly lean 6 1/2' bull shouldn't take a month to digest a pup when I think they were ranging 123-130grams then. I found he starts refusing them over about 150grams (less than they often wean at) because the width is considerably more than that of an equivalent rat so I either have to grow out the last 4 I didn't get in the freezer for sale or find someone with a big python. Pure peruvian imports are still selling $100 each but that's why I don't have pures lol
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Old 08-19-17, 08:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: early brumation?

I've always been more of an "eyeball it" type of keeper rather than one that relies on scales and the like. I think that feeding smaller food items less often is what keeps snakes lean and strong.

Just for a reference I have never seen a colubrid in person that I would feed anything larger than a small rat too. I've never kept some of the largest colubrids but I've been to more than a fair share of reptile shows, pet stores and zoos and still haven't seen one.

Question, what the main difference between the Peru Guinea Pigs? Is that something people are keeping here in the US now? Do they make good pets?
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Old 08-28-17, 12:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: early brumation?

I don't weigh rats but the guinea pigs aren't really established by as many on what to feed and their difference in nutrition or digestion. Guinea pigs are a meat animal in south american mountains for lack of livestock space. They've been developed for centuries but more recently even had scientists work on improving their genetics. Most you get will stop at 2-4lbs but they grow a ton faster than american and european pet/show bred guinea pigs and they can get 8lbs depending on the strain. While the US is too against eating rodent and eating cute guinea pigs they are actually spreading to other countries as a contained meat animal that can live on most any vegetation quickly collected or left to forage alone without the high protein needs but their production is much lower than rabbits or rats. The pures can be pets and many keep them for such purposes and to develop a new show animal but they aren't great pets to most people because they were not bred for handling. The crosses are easier to keep. Natively they are raised fairly "free range" as they will make home base and stay on a property or in large pens. Often high stacked concrete blocks on the ground between houses in more populated areas of south america and bamboo slat floor and bar raised large cages in southeast asia. They are fairly wiggly, which is annoying in a 4lb "guinea pig", they can jump considerably higher with a longer body and legs plus muscling so need tops usually, and they may nip but still don't usually break skin. It's just caused my husband to drop some to have a female that big grab his finger and pinch it in her dislike of being moved around. Although I have my pure male in a mostly open top cage but contained indoor room if he does do anything. They are still the same species and they like known safety so even escapees don't really travel. Outdoors they often show back up next to the cages or follow other guinea pig noises even into a house if possible. We used to catch our loose yard ones that way. The problem is that they are bottom of the food chain even with increased size so while they are efficient to throw in outdoor pens or even typical backyards on forage like mini livestock and forget about, everything in the neighborhood will be trying to get through your fence. People have been using old trampoline frames for the quick durability against ground predators with wire to contain the guinea pigs on the meat cavy group but lost several to the increasing return of hawks without bird netting.

It seems Nicon was just finally establishing himself with all his flurry of activity, digging, mounding things, and then tucking away. He still hasn't come back out to sit in the heat like he was several times a day but he ate the largest rat so far and had a 3/4ths intact shed. I haven't pulled him out to see if it's all off but even in pieces it has before so I'm not too concerned. He's been so slow to settle in compared to the other colubrids. Maybe his age (4year old where my others have been babies to 1 year old except a corn) and more simple cage design in his previous life. Sometimes they see actual dirt and just recoil like I'm setting them on lava when I first get them. The small lizards are more amusing because they can actually play the dirt is lava and bounce between objects or if they can stick to smooth walls before they eventually mess up.
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Old 09-01-17, 08:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: early brumation?

Hmm sounds like a neat little critter. I wonder what they taste like lol. I'm glad your snake ate again.
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