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Ladyhawk 09-16-03 03:52 AM

My Arizona Mt. Female Finally Ate! (And a Question)
At least, I'm reasonably sure she did.

I've owned her for about two months. Her boyfriend, Elvis, is one of the most outgoing snakes I've ever seen, and one of the most beautiful, as well.

Elvis, King of the Arizona Mountains...well, King of the 20-gallon terrarium. :D

His girlfriend, Akasha, on the other hand, is Queen of Hiding in the Sand...or aspen litter, as the case may be. For the past two months, she's hidden under the bowl on the cool side of the terrarium and I've pretty much left her alone. She seems so skittish. I've never even seen her out by herself.

Two days ago, I did see her out, so I took notice. She was shedding. And it wasn't going well. There were aberrant pieces stuck to her neck, sides, everywhere. I couldn't even define where the shedding process started and stopped. Bad shed. Bad, BAD shed. Prior to the process, I hadn't noticed an opaque phase. Of course, that could be because I mostly make sure she has water, is alive, and leave her alone.

An interesting fact: the fellow that sold me the pair told me the female was getting ready to shed. She hasn't until the ecdysis from hell two days ago.

I hope you guys don't yell at me for intervening again, but I did. She needed a good soaking and a peeling. For the first time, she bit me. Hell, I'd have bitten me, too. Poor snake.

During the past two months I've tried to feed her f/t mice, brained f/t mice, live hopper mice, everything I could think of. Tonight I decided that her shed might have booted her system. I decided to try a small brained f/t pinkie mouse. I warmed up, put it under her favorite hidey bowl and she ate it! Yes!

I just now tried it with two more pinkies. She's a big snake (maybe four feet), so one pinkie isn't a meal. Three pinkies would make a small meal for her. Just about right for kick-starting her system, I think. I really hope she eats them.

Question: how long after the opaque phase can a snake go without shedding its skin? She seemed normal to me, but could a stressor like moving to a new place, new surroundings, new movements, new elevation, etc. stop a shed in its tracks?

She's so skittish...I wonder. She's way more skittish than the milksnakes I have.

Akasha the female Arizona that is scaring me half to death by not eating:

Ladyhawk 09-16-03 07:29 AM

She ate the other two pinkies. Things are looking up for Akasha.

BTW, I helped with the shed as gently as possible, but she still didn't like it much. I wouldn't either. The skin came off easily.

Probably she needs a bit more humidity in her environment.

Invictus 09-16-03 11:12 AM

Yes, more humidity will help with sheds. If she's 4 feet long, pinkies are not even a meal - you can give her 100 of them, they'll be fully digested in 2 days. Not blaming you for this, by the way... just saying that it's a bit troublesome that pinkies seem to be all she will eat. Good luck giving her some real food items.

vanderkm 09-16-03 01:19 PM

Congrats on getting this girl to take a meal - hope it is all uphill from here. Hopefully you will be able to get her up to the size prey she was on with her previous owner now that she has settled in and is at least willing to feed. Brumation may help to give her an appetite too if she isn't feeding well for you after this. It certainly worked for a couple of ours (mexican milksnake and cornsnake).

I don't see a problem with intervening to assist with a shed - I have not had a snake go an extended period of time after being blue before shedding - most are within 14 days (max). When we have had to clear bits of shed off snakes (tail tips and such) I put them in a rubbermaid with a warm damp towel for an hour or so and they usually get it off themselves - no struggle, no hassle. I don't have mountain kingsnakes but suspect they might not want higher humidity all the time, so you might add a humid hide box when she does go blue the next time.

good luck with her - they certainly are beautiful snakes,

mary v.

Ladyhawk 10-09-03 01:32 AM

Interestingly enough, both she and her husband did a double-shed. She went opaque again. Just before the blue phase, she refused two pinkies.

This time I put some wet moss in her enclosure to keep up the humidity and her skin came off in one beautiful piece. :) Her weight looks fine, considering. I think she will brumate just fine. Hopefully, she'll come out very hungry, ready to eat something besides pinkies.

Her husband is actually fat. I hope he loses weight when he brumates.

As for Arwen, I will try feeding her a substantial meal in a day or two. I'm not very hopeful because her records show that she tends to shut off in October. I guess I'll just have to see what happens.

An aside: it really bothers me when a mouse is wasted. For awhile I would come back after two hours and if she rejected the meal, I would give it to Aragorn. That's why he got so fat. I realized that feeding a snake that didn't need a meal is harmful, so I started throwing the rejected mice into the trash. I know something else will eat the mice when they go into the trash, but it feels wasteful to me. It's like I'm hovering over the snake, telling it about all the snakes starving in the red center of Australia. :) But they don't finish the food on their plates, regardless.

Part of the problem is that sometimes you have to give the skittish feeders lots of time and that means sleeping on it. By morning, the mouse can't go anywhere BUT the trash. If you wait a couple of hours and have enough snakes, you could probably avoid throwing mice out, but I don't really have that luxury.

Aragorn is getting WAY too chubby. For his health, I have to be wasteful.

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