I am no snake expert, but I'm learning. Unfortunately, part of that learning experience now includes a dead snake.
I have only one snake: a young adult male Louisiana milksnake named Bayou. I have enjoyed him so much over the past several months that I've decided to get a few more snakes.
On Friday, the day before Bayou's feeding day, I took a trip to a serpentarium in horrible 105-degree heat. The proprietor told me he would sex my milksnake free of charge. I transported Bayou in a small Kritter Keeper full of wood shavings. I placed him on the floor and partially covered him to keep him out of direct sunlight. The air conditioner was going the whole time and he made the trip just fine.
I enjoyed myself at the serpentarium. The proprietor showed me his collection of beautiful breeders. I saw yellow and lavender California kings, gorgeous blair's phase gray-banded kings, beautiful corn snakes, wonderful bull snakes, lovely pythons, boas and anacondas, false water cobras, bearded dragons, chameleons, etc. But what happened subsequently marred the whole experience for me.
I found out that the sub-adult female Louisiana milksnake was for sale and I had to have her. As I handled her, I noticed she had just been fed. Her stomach was huge.
"Are you sure it's OK to transport her on a full stomach like this?" I asked. I had specifically waited until Bayou was empty before subjecting him to the two-hour-long trip.
"Oh yeah, she'll be fine," he said and placed her in one of those deli cups for transportation. Since he was the "expert" I figured he knew what he was doing and went against my better judgment.
Once in the car, I placed her next to Bayou and draped them both with a cover so they'd be out of direct sunlight. I made sure the ventilation holes weren't covered, turned on my air conditioner and traveled for a little over an hour.
I stopped to check on the snakes. Bayou was fine, but the female had regurgitated her meal of two small pinkie mice. This rather upset me, so I called the serpentarium.
An employee answered the phone.
"Yes, I just picked up a Louisiana milksnake and she regurgitated her meal. Will she be OK?"
"Oh, she shouldn't have been traveling on a full stomach."
I knew that!!! Why didn't I listen to myself?
I traveled for another ten minutes and couldn't help my worry, so I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped the lid off the deli cup. The female milksnake was stiff as a board. For all intents and purposes, she looked dead. I thought she was dead until her tongue flickered out and in several times. It was the only part of her body she could move.
I called the serpentarium again and they seemed to think she had overheated. I poured some water into the container and cooled her off. Both she and Bayou were warm to the touch, but Bayou seemed fine. She obviously was not.
I took her home. At first she couldn't move, then slowly, she regained control over her muscles. I was up all night watching her, trying to leave her alone as much as possible.
She got better and better, then suddenly died approximately twenty-four hours after her ordeal.
I am very upset. A beautiful animal under my care died because of trauma. The serpentarium seems to think it was because she overheated, but my other snake (right next to her) survived the journey just fine. I suppose she could have overheated, but more than just heat had to come into play:
1. Not enough ventilation
2. Smaller body size than the other snake (more susceptible to ambient temperatures)
Please tell me....what do you think happened? I will accept whatever is my fault and try to learn from it, but I need some input from people who are more familiar with snakes than I am.
What do you think happened to her?