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Old 12-23-18, 11:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

Hi all - I've made a post on Reddit about this already but I figured I'd try an actual reptile forum as well. I've googled the hell out of this but can't seem to find much information on the topic.

Long story short, I have some new hognoses and one of them developed this weird muscle twitch/spasm thing about a week ago. It's very infrequent; I've seen it maybe four times total and this is the first time I've caught it on camera (video link: https://youtu.be/joETBhxwtVc). Aside from an awful lot of wall-surfing lately (I've been meaning to ask about that too but that's a post for another day), he's acting perfectly normal, active and alert.

Some background info: He's about a year old and I've had him for almost three months, but the room we were keeping him and the others in was getting far too cold for the winter, so a few weeks ago I moved them all up to my bedroom where the ambient temp tends to be around 27 C during the day. Hot spot is ideally around 34-35 C, but the heat mats kind of fluctuate a bit and I've seen it drop to room temperature when it's in "cooling" mode. The thermostat probe also came loose the other day which made the mats overcompensate and get up to an absurd 50 something C for at least a day... completely unacceptable, I know; I'm pretty mad at myself for not catching it much earlier. Luckily no one seems to have any burns, but could the muscle spasm be a result of prolonged exposure to that kind of heat? Not sure how he'd have managed that without burning himself, but I imagine it's possible.

He also refused his last meal, which normally I wouldn't be too concerned about given the time of the year, but it was around then that this twitch started happening. Could be coincidence, but who knows. On top of that, he's been my best eater by far and is normally very food-oriented (I suspect his breeders either didn't handle him very often, didn't feed him as often as a hognose should be fed, or both; for weeks after I first got him he tried to eat pretty much everything that came into contact with his mouth). His next scheduled feeding is tomorrow so my plan was to wait and see how that goes; if he refuses again and the twitch doesn't go away, maybe a vet visit is called for?

Oh, and before anyone asks, I haven't been using any chemicals near them, and I'm pretty sure it's not mating behavior given that it's December. It doesn't look like the same sort of twitch anyway (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLvmgKTop_Q).

Please let me know what you think and feel free to ask any questions. His name is Cyrus, by the way.
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Old 12-23-18, 03:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

I don't recall having seen that exact same twitch in my own collection, but based on similar behavior that I've seen in my own snakes, I'm going to make a guess; it looks to me like the twitch is a nervous behavior, and possibly indicative of the snakes displeasure at being handled.
Have you noticed the twitch when the snake isn't being handled or disturbed?
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Old 12-24-18, 08:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

I haven't seen it when he's just in his box, no; only when I'm handling him. But it's strange, because like I said he's been wall surfing a LOT during the past week or so - as in, pretty much constantly from the moment he wakes up to when he decides to give up and go to sleep, he's on the side of his box, tapping at the lid with his nose. And he seems to genuinely enjoy being handled too (as much as a snake can, anyway). He explores, he finds a comfortable spot in my hand and lies still for a bit, he explores some more; he doesn't seem particularly nervous... the muscle twitch seems like a weird involuntary thing.

Not trying to be argumentative, just pointing out everything I've noticed I could try leaving him alone for a while and see what happens. It just seems like he wants to be out.
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Old 12-24-18, 08:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

Like, no joke; here he is doing it right now - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ALq...ature=youtu.be

EDIT: oh cool, my reply before this didn't post, that's...that's great

Last edited by ccannava17; 12-24-18 at 09:11 AM..
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Old 12-24-18, 09:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

Whatever I'm just going to retype everything I guess

I haven't noticed the twitch when he's in his box, no; only when he's being handled. But it's weird because like I mentioned he's been wall-surfing constantly for the past week or so. As in, from the moment he wakes up to whenever he decides to give up and go to sleep, he's up on the wall bumping the lid with his nose. When I take him out he acts normal - he'll explore, find a place on my hand to settle for a bit, explore some more... he seems much happier, honestly. Not nervous at all. (And I have three hatchlings who definitely still get nervous when I handle them, so I know what that looks like.)

I could try leaving him alone for a while and see what happens, but I don't think it'll help. He seems to want to be out. It's very strange.

Last edited by ccannava17; 12-24-18 at 09:20 AM.. Reason: phrasing
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Old 12-24-18, 11:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

When a snake is constantly trying to escape, I find it is usually due to one of the following:
- lack of suitable hiding spots
- excessive heat
- hunger
- looking for a mate, generally males during breeding season
I would suggest looking at these factors first. If your snake is a male, perhaps the temperature fluctuations have stimulated his desire to breed. This will make a snake restless, and also make them go off feed.
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Old 12-24-18, 12:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

He definitely has plenty of hiding places, and the heating issue was fixed... He seems very off of 'food mode' right now, just not interested in the mice at all (and he's always been a very eager feeder). So I guess that leaves mate-searching. It would actually make a lot of sense, the twitching only seems to happen when he's being touched (by me); maybe he thinks my hand is another snake lol.

Still though, it is December; I thought they could tell (generally) when breeding season was. But if the sudden shift in ambient temps is what's confusing him, I can totally see it. Have you ever had a snake go into 'breeding mode' 3-4 months too early?
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Old 12-25-18, 04:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

No, I haven't had them go into breeding mode early but- is it really early for western hognose? Many people in the hobby forget or don't realize that this species may breed in the spring and/or fall. Here in the upper Midwest, I have most often found wild nasicus locked up during the first warm days of spring, and I have found them locked up on cold, rainy days in the fall. So, the drop in temps and shortened photoperiod may have signaled to your guy that it's time. At least that's a theory, based on the behavior you've described.
I no longer breed hoggies, but when I did (20+years ago), I didn't really subject them to much of a fall cool down; just enough to condition them for brumation. I paired them the following spring. Currently, I work primarily Antaresia, which are winter breeders. Short days and cool nights make the males restless, and they seldom eat. They have one thing on their mind, apparently, and spend a lot of their time trying to escape.
It is my understanding that some modern hognose breeders skip the brumation process, and pair their animals during the cooling process itself, similar to what I do with Antaresia.
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Old 12-26-18, 10:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

Zero doubt about this: That movement is breeding/courting behaviour. Coupling that movement with the fact that he is constantly cruising backs this up further. Cycling/brumation is rarely actually needed for most north american colubrids (aside from water snakes and rubber boas). I have quite literally reproduced hognose in every month of the year except for November and couldn't be more confident in what you are experiencing.

Last edited by Andy_G; 12-27-18 at 08:19 AM..
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Old 12-27-18, 07:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

Ha, alright, guess I've just got a horny hog after all Thanks so much guys, that's a relief to hear. I'll keep an eye on him just in case he starts displaying any other weird behaviors, but now I'm 99% sure that's what's going on.

Any idea how long it'll last? And is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable (besides giving him a mate, lol), or do I just let him ride it out? He definitely settles down when I hold him but obviously I can't have him in my hands 24/7.
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Old 12-28-18, 07:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Western hognose muscle twitch/spasm - does this look alarming to anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herpin' Man View Post
When a snake is constantly trying to escape, I find it is usually due to one of the following:
- lack of suitable hiding spots
- excessive heat
- hunger
- looking for a mate, generally males during breeding season
I would suggest looking at these factors first. If your snake is a male, perhaps the temperature fluctuations have stimulated his desire to breed. This will make a snake restless, and also make them go off feed.
Any point doesn't rely to my snake.
My female carpet python behave herself like that. She try escape a lot. If I don't let her exploring my room about 2 days she's going to her branches and laying looking down. She just love exploring and I let her a lot.
And she used to stay upside wardrobe or eaves but now she try to escape to another room.
And she still afraid me after 1.5 years since she was baby.
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Sorry my English Feel free to correct my mistakes.
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