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Old 11-22-19, 08:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Dried out scales on snout

This is Cosmo. Heís a Bairdís rat snake thatís about four years old, and for the past few months heís been having this problem. I think itís from digging in his substrate too hard, but it almost like he scrapes off his scales just a bit before theyíre ready. His jaw looks kind of wonky, and the scales feel dry and rough.
He isnít having trouble eating, and heís perfectly active, but this is happening lore commonly now and Iím getting worried. Thereís no sign of an RI but Iím worried heís going to injure himself further if it keeps up. His scales go back to normal after a shed or two.
Heís on a bark chip substrate and has silk plants and three hides. Itís about time theyíre replaced with something larger but he stresses when I remove them. I want to change them out soon in case this is caused by boredom but itís slow going.
Is there something I can do to prevent him from doing his to his nose? Or am I wrong about what this is? If this is something serious there is a vet I can contact but I donít want to unless this is serious.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 11-22-19, 09:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

Welcome to the community! Hopefully someone can chime in on your situation
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Old 11-22-19, 10:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

I haven't kept Baird's rats, but I have kept corns and Texas rats. My guesses are that either a)your substrate humidity is too low or b)your snake is is damaging his snout against the lid trying to escape.

To fix the humidity issue, add cocoa coir to your substrate, and then add water until it is moist but not wet at depth. It captures moisture much better than the bark chips. Don't get rid of the bark, as having a couple different textures of substrate tends to work out well. I usually mix some variety of bark, mulch, or moss with coco coir (eco earth).

The escape issue, if that is the case, can be more difficult to address. It typically requires getting a larger enclosure, or covering three sides of the tank with something opaque, like paper (or switching to a pvc enclosure). That creates a little more security for the snake, reducing the likelihood that the snake will try to force his way out of the cage.

You could also try adding a humid hide, but I find adding moisture to the substrate by adding eco earth works just as well.
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Old 11-23-19, 05:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

Quote:
Originally Posted by chairman View Post
I haven't kept Baird's rats, but I have kept corns and Texas rats. My guesses are that either a)your substrate humidity is too low or b)your snake is is damaging his snout against the lid trying to escape.

To fix the humidity issue, add cocoa coir to your substrate, and then add water until it is moist but not wet at depth. It captures moisture much better than the bark chips. Don't get rid of the bark, as having a couple different textures of substrate tends to work out well. I usually mix some variety of bark, mulch, or moss with coco coir (eco earth).

The escape issue, if that is the case, can be more difficult to address. It typically requires getting a larger enclosure, or covering three sides of the tank with something opaque, like paper (or switching to a pvc enclosure). That creates a little more security for the snake, reducing the likelihood that the snake will try to force his way out of the cage.

You could also try adding a humid hide, but I find adding moisture to the substrate by adding eco earth works just as well.
I’ve got a bag of eco earth left over from my skinks last substrate change so I’ll add that in and see if it helps.
Hopefully that’ll be enough of a change until I can find him some new hides, too.
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Old 11-26-19, 04:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

I added ecoearth to his substrate this morning, and I’m trying to up the humidity, but cosmos exhibiting some new behavior that’s scaring me.
I saw him just holding his mouth wide open. Not yawning or realigning his jaw, just an open mouth.
Thought this did give me a chance to see the inside of his mouth and there’s no discoloration or signs of mouth rot.
If he wasn’t upright I would’ve thought he was dead.
I don’t know what he’s done to himself. It looks like he’s got chapped lips, but I doubt some burts bees would be a solution here.
I’ll call the vet tomorrow but I just want to update this and ask for any more advice.
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Old 11-27-19, 02:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

Did his breathing sound different?
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Old 11-27-19, 04:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

Did your temperatures get too high? Any accidental exposure to an airborne toxin like a cleanser, insecticide, or any smoke like an incense?

None of my snakes open their mouths except to eat or yawn, except one time that I had a snake get a piece of mulch stuck in the corner of his mouth while eating. All I had to do was gently remove the little stick, and realistically, he probably would have dislodged it by himself.

I did have a gecko suffer an injury to its jaw. It ended up dislocating the jaw and I had to gently reset it. I suppose that could be the case with your snake, extreme pushing could have caused damage. Reticulated pythons seem to get snout injuries from pushing with a certain amount of frequency.

Hopefully the vet can help out.
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Old 11-27-19, 09:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Dried out scales on snout

The vet did help out. I had a real bad gut feeling, and called my vet right after I made that post. It was late, but they squeezed me in.
Cosmo has a very, very, very early RI.
So light they almost missed it. He made a light clicking sound with his mouth, and he’s been holding it a bit open. Gives me a heart attack every time I see him.
The vet did a physical exam and took some xrays. His jaw bones are fine.
I’ve got about nine predosed antibiotic shots to give him over the next month, one every three days, and something to put on his nose. I think he’ll be okay.
I’ve no idea what could’ve caused his RI, though.
No incense or candles or air fresheners in this house, let alone the room he’s in. And I keep his temperature and humidity up to their proper levels.
Only thing I can think of is a day his lamp burned out and I wasn’t home to change it right away. It was off for maybe five hours but the room he’s in doesn’t go below 75f.


Also I just want to say how nice he was for the vet. He’s been almost just as active as normal and took the whole visit in stride, and the only bump happened when the vet tech was trying to keep him still for the X-ray.
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