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Old 07-20-03, 04:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Young Milksnake Died -- Need Input

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?
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Last edited by Ladyhawk; 07-20-03 at 04:07 PM..
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Old 07-20-03, 05:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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They should not have allowed you to take her home yet. It's their fault, afterall you did ask all the right questions. Even if it was against your better judgement. Sometimes we expect more from what we consider "experts" only to realize everyone has room to learn. Sorry about your loss. I would definately talk to whomever was helping you and ask for your money back.
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Old 07-20-03, 05:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm really sorry to hear about your loss. From my own view, it seems like it was the responsibility of the store not to let you take the snake home until it was safe. It sounds like they got caught up with the prospect of a sale.
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Old 07-20-03, 06:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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maybe the delicup's temp was higher than the other container, even though they were in the same container. i am deeply sorry to hear your new king has past, and fear the same fate for my sick ball python, hope you are doing better, i will keep you and your lost in my thoughts.
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Old 07-20-03, 08:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A sad day indeed. After researching this vigorously Ladyhawk, this was completely the store owners fault, and more than likely a result of being ferried across a long distance with a full stomach.

Snakes regurgitating is not a good thing. If a snake is kept too warm, usually over 85 degrees, the heat acts as a catalyst for the decomposition of a food item ingested. The reason for this is that negative bacteria begin to break the food down faster than the beneficial bacteria found within the gut of the snake can digest it. This is usually manifested in the snake as a visible bloating in the gut, usually the result of gasses which begin to form as a by-product of the bacteria.

After a while, the snake's internal alarm tells it to expel the decomposing food item before the bad bacteria spills out into the gut causing another slew of complications. I'm sure the bloated food item also causes a considerable amount of discomfort and could contribute to the regurgitation as well.

Long story short they should not have let you take the animal on that trip after a feeding.
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Old 07-20-03, 09:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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without seeing the snake You cannot detiermine the cause of death.... many other things could be at play. maybe the snake was sick before you bought it. possable RI if it was dehyrated in high heat it wouldnt have a chance after it regurged

Snakes can be taken home after they have eaten there is no problem with that (shipping is another story)
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Old 07-20-03, 11:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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After a quick skim, my verdict would be dehydration more than just the regurgitation. Any kind of stress to a snake causes dehydration. In this case it would be the move being the big stress factor. Then the regurgitation which is a major factor for water loss. Plus the heat increasing the metabolism of the snakes and making them use up more water in their bodies than norm. All those three seem like a deadly combination.

I now I should have said this earlier though, but sorry to hear about your unfortunate loss. We all learn. Sometimes we learn the hard way. But then again , you know that the lessons learnt the hard way are almost never forgotten.
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Old 07-21-03, 12:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i am no expert, but i remembered her saying that she added some water to the snake when ever it looked stiff, would it still be able to dehydrate?
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Old 07-21-03, 08:26 AM   #9 (permalink)
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It was a two-hour trip (maybe a little more), so I'm not sure if that falls into the category of being shipped or just taking her home.

Because she was such a small snake, she was more prone to becoming dehydrated or overheated. Also, she had ingested quite a lot: two pinkie mice. And up they came. That can't have been good. And if dehydration was the culprit, that very well could have been the fatal blow.

I tried to get her to take some water as soon as I got home, but she would only swallow one small drop. I misted the enclosure, hoping if she couldn't find the water dish, she could at least drink droplets.

I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but I'm not very happy about it. I am not in the mood for a fight, so I will just let this go, monetarily speaking.

I am more upset about the death of a living creature, no matter who was at fault.

Hiya Smaug.
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1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot

Last edited by Ladyhawk; 07-21-03 at 08:30 AM..
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Old 07-21-03, 08:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well I think you did everything you could, but I know it's hard to loose a pet...The store should not have let you taken her home after a meal, it seems to me that the "expert" just wanted to make a sale.
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Old 07-21-03, 10:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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You need to contact the place you got him from and ask for a refund or a replacement. Let us know what happens. If he gives you a hard time, at least others will then know to avoid this place.
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Old 07-21-03, 01:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Old 07-21-03, 02:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 07-30-03, 04:16 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks to everyone for your comments. Losing this snake hit me pretty hard, harder than I thought it would. I didn't care about the money. I was mostly quite upset about what had happened to the beautiful young milksnake.

I contacted the owner of the store and told him that I'd gone over and over the event in my mind and that I felt strongly the stress from the regurgitation had pushed her over the edge. I also informed him that if he felt differently, he should do what he thought was best.

The man came through for me. He referred me to a milksnake breeder in my area and I came home with a very beautiful yearling female...no cost to me. The proprietor of the store set everything up. I love the tiny little creature, though at nine inches she'd be barely a snack for my male. I've named her "Bijou" which is "jewel" in Cajun. Like most young milksnakes she's a bit shy, but she's eating well, having already consumed two meals.

I've also found quite a resource in the local kingsnake / milksnake breeder. He sold me about two hundred frozen mice for a mere $50. I also acquired a pair of beautiful Arizona mountain kings from him. He and his friend in Lodi have really come through.

Of course, none of this can bring back the beautiful milksnake. I'll chalk it up as a learning experience. Never again will I transport a snake with a full stomach. And you can bet you booty I'll be very careful about heat, too.
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1.1 Arizona mountain kingsnakes (Chris Baubel and Gerold Merker)
1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot
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Old 07-30-03, 04:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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sorry bout ur loss mate, but congrats on ur new snakes-how long did ur milksnake live 4? they r my fav snakes but im not allowed 2 hav 1 >

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