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Old 08-11-03, 09:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How do you identify RI?

I see alot of people talk about Resparitoty Infections. But to be honest, if one of my snakes did have a RI, I wouldnt know how to identify it. Can someone tell me what the warning signs are?
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Old 08-11-03, 09:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You can see them having labored breathing some times. You can hear a weezing. And you can see a fluid bubble from the nostrils and mouth.
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Old 08-11-03, 09:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by burmer
You can see them having labored breathing some times. You can hear a weezing. And you can see a fluid bubble from the nostrils and mouth.
Yes that is the best way to tell.
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Old 08-11-03, 09:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Occasionally my snake will make a sound when breathing, but I only hear it when he doesnt want to be touched, and it isnt continuous. It is almost a hiss sound.

Should I be worried about that?

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Old 08-11-03, 10:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 08-11-03, 10:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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As long as you keep your snake warm enouph you wont have to wory about it
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Old 08-11-03, 11:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Signs of an RI are excess mucus, gaping mouth, bubbling at the mouth, sounds coming from the throat (clicking, popping, whistling, etc), wheezing, "stargazing", and puffy throat.

Sometimes you also have preshed or stress whistles as well. They sound similar. Sometimes if the snake is stressed when being handled it will make a whistle, and also when they are going in to a shed, the excess skin in the nostrils creates a whistle.

Its not uncommon for snakes to hiss a lil and puff some air when handled, they are just letting you know they don't like being handled.
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Old 08-11-03, 12:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think Linds covered it the best...except that loud exhaling doesn't always mean they don't like being handled. They have very long lungs and your constant moving and adjusting your grip will cause them to kinda burp air out that sounds like a soft hiss... I have been doing rescue rehab work with reptiles and other animals for well over 20 years. I get far more false RI symptoms brought to me than actual RI....People are very quick to want to treat with Baytril or other antibiotics at the first hint of symptoms. This is bad. Don't do that! young snakes under a year old shouldn't be treated for antibiotics and older snakes can USUALLY be treated without them by reducing humidity to near dryness and raising the temps to right at 90 degrees and keeping them warm 24/7 for a week or so. A quick easy check to see if there is anything to be concerned about is to listen to the side of the snake about 1/4 to 1/3 down the body by placing your ear against his side...listen for raspy wheezing or clicking sounds...Like Linds said though, it is not unusual for this and/or whistling to happen during the preshed days so if he is about to shed...wait it out and check again. You don't have to wait for snot bubbles to appear nor do you have to actually open a snake's mout to check for excess mucous...gently squeeze the snout and lower jaw flat shut with your thumb and forefinger..If there is any excess mucous...bubbles will appear in the nostrils. Even this may be a false symptom...did the snake just take a drink of water? If you are sure your snake has an RI and unmedicinal treatments have failed to work and you feel an antibiotic is important...first make sure the snake is over a year old...make sure the snake is well hydrated. antibiotics dehydrate and an already dehydrated snake will likely drop dead soon after an injection of antibiotics. Make sure the shot is given in the upper 1/3 of the body even if a vet is doing it....many vets are clueless and are blundering through these things. A shot given in the lower 1/3 will go right to the liver and do some serious damage there. Many vets also figure a dosage somewhere between 5 mg per kg to 10 mg per kg and give a series of 3-4 on an every other day schedule. This is not too bad a plan really but I spoke with the manufacturers of Baytril and got a better planned assault on fighting bacterial infections...10 mg per kg booster shot for the first injection followed by 3-4 every other day shots at 5mg per kg is what was recomended to me by the people who should know best. Please pass this on to your vets and other herpers who might care. Also make sure you know how to figure the proper dosage before attempting any home medications. I find way too many people thinking that 10 mg means 10 cc of actual fluid from the bottle. baytril comes either 22.7mg per cc or 100mg per cc so be careful and make sure and double check your math. the formula is simple but also easy to screw up.
if using regular old baytril from most vet offices, it is 22.7 concentration. If you want 10 mg of baytril for a 2 kg snake... 10 x 2 = 20mg of baytril...20 divided by 22.7 = .88 which can be rounded up to .9 or 9/10ths of a cc

I know I went a bit overboard but since RI was brought up I was certain that treatments would too and these are just some things you need to know to keep your animals healthy even if you rely on vets for everything...DO NOT be afraid to question your vets knowledge and experience. Even the best herp vets out there still don't usually see many reptiles as compared to cute fuzzy animals.
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Old 08-11-03, 01:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've had the exact opposite experience in my rescue. Cultures and/or bloodwork confirm RI in many snakes that the owners never even suspected had a problems, they just knew the snake was acting listless.

But not all infections are bacterial, and so they don't all respond to antibiotics. Aspergillosis, a fungal infection, is a leading cause of RI in snakes kept on organic substrates such as mulches, bark, peat moss, or soil. Nearly 1/3 of the snakes I've treated for RI had aspergillosis.
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Old 08-11-03, 01:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes that is true and likely why other treatments other than antibiotics clear it up so easily. The substrate isn't the cause. It is that people allow too much urates and urine to build up before a thorough cage cleaning. dry urate dust is a proven leading cause of RI...mulches or substrates like reptibark, aspen etc that mold easily when moist are another problem...but again, it isn't the mulch or bark it is mold and mildew. Cypress and Eucalyptus mulch seem to be the best natural substrate as far as not growing mildew and mold. But still....thorough cleaning and substrate changes on a timely schedule is a must.
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Old 08-11-03, 01:48 PM   #11 (permalink)
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what do you think of the use of newspaper or papertowels as a substrate? Its obviously much easier to maintain compared to mulch substrates. It doesnt mold. Can an adult snake (ball python in this instance) be kept on it indefinately?
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Old 08-11-03, 02:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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newspaper and paper towels do mold but anyone with half a brain will change them long before this happens. Some people however use newspaper and paper towels UNDER mulch substrates for some unknown reason and this is a huge problem and mold/mildew is automatic.

Many people use newspaper or paper towels. I do too for newborns or hatchlings or for snakes being treated for various ailments but I don't make a practice of using them because and only because I personally don't like the way it looks and I prefer my snakes have the ability to burrow. It's also easier for me to get my UTH temps stable with some depth of substrate. I don't like having to change it daily because of waterspills either. My current collection is about 70 some odd snakes. Too much daily paper changing for me to deal with. Many of my snakes require high humidity (brbs, emeralds, amazons, gtp etc) Cypress holds moisture well. I just pour in a gallon of warm water once a week or so over the UTH and the cage stays steamed up for days and doesn't grow mold...It did for awhile on the wooden perches but I replaced them all with PVC and now have no mold problems.

It all comes down to taste, common sense and what's best for your pets. Some like the sterile lab cage look. I prefer the as natural as a cage can look look.
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Old 08-11-03, 06:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Aspergillum is a microscopic mold that has nothing to do with the visible molds such as grow in over-moist environments and ones that aren't changed often enough. It's usually found in a symbiotic relationship with peat so any peat moss or soil mix containing peat can be considered to have aspergillium in it. So don't think because you don't see mold that it doesn't exist.

It even grows on newpapers or paper towels as they have enough organic matter to support the mold's need for protein. It's a natural component of house dust in homes with humidity levels above 60%.

Molds large enough to be seen with the naked eye are too large to penetrate mucus membranes and do not cause respiratory infections, although they can cause skin infections and digestive upset.
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Old 08-11-03, 09:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This is very in depth and informative.

Like JuliusSqueezer, I do not like to jump straight to antibiotics. When the time comes to use them I always have a culture done to see what will be most affective. Certain bacteria can have adverse affects when treated with certain antibiotics and start to grow rapidly.

I once had a boa that had 3 gram negative bacteria, when one drug would work on one it would make the other two grow. We ended up going to avian antibiotics and that still didn't work. Aspergillosis was also present. $4,000 later It had to be put down.

When a snake is ill it is definately a good factor to keep the cage clean, husbandry at its best. I keep them on newspaper and change it every day with a good cleaning of nolvasan. Like eyespy said, Bacteria can grow very rapidly in an enclosure even though you can not see it.
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Old 08-13-03, 09:54 AM   #15 (permalink)
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If there is visible mold, there is also plenty of invisible mold and more importantly spores...I wouldn't go so far as to say that visible mold is harmless because of this...it's a good indicator that there is a serious problem in your snakes cage that needs attention when you can actually see mold growing.

Now then...to go so far as to try and battle any little microscopic organism that dares venturing within 20 feet of your snake's cage is just not healthy for either of you. You will go nuts...and your snake needs a little tiny bit of nasty now and then to keep his immune system on guard and active. Let down the defenses and down comes the castle walls.

nonbacterial RI is probably a secondary condition brought on by lowered immune system from some other issue that allowed the otherwise benign pathogens to overcome and rear their ugly little heads. With boids that's usually cage temp issues. Healthy well kept snakes are far less likely to allow the bugs to bug them....take that same healthy snake though and drop the temps a bit and the bugs take over. (for instance...never ever ever never ever ever ever ever let a boa go at or below 70 degrees for more than a few minutes)

But anyway...I guess what I am saying...is if you understand what antibiotics do and how they work...and also understand how natural antibodies work and how they can sometimes work together or inadvertantly against each other especially when used incorrectly...you will understand how over medicating and over sterilization can sometimes lead to bigger problems down the road. I am not saying don't clean your cages...nasty cages are a far bigger problem than cages kept too spotless. The main point is to correct husbandry and give the animals natural defenses a shot at it before pumping them fulla bugjuice...push fluids and keep em toasty warm...it will usually go away on it's own. But somehow even as hard as I push this....I still manage to go through a few full viles of baytril and other various drugs a year so I'm not one of these anti-doctor people...there is a time and place for any and everything.
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