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Old 06-05-17, 03:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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stuck shed, lost tail?

Ugh, I just feel sick over it and when my husband finally got a response I just showed him Eoghan and broke down crying for the night. A week ago I knew Eoghan was going into shed and I made extra sure his humidity stayed 60-70% and this time he chose to sit on the warm side which he's been getting better at moving around to proper conditions instead of where he feels he can hide best always on the cool side. I have him on bioactive soil so an actual water container gets very dirty and according to others keeping blood species on bioactive I put in a humid hide instead. I had to put him in it a few times before he started going in and out which was the same with getting him to soak the first time but like I said he's gotten better at doing what he needs instead of where he just feels most protected. The blue was gone and his skin was loose without coming off but he was sitting in the humid hide end toward the heat so I thought he looked fine to sit on his own with another misting to make sure humidity didn't drop and fresh drinking water.

Maybe 36hrs later he had left his humid hide but still on misted soil, 70% humidity, so I was going to try returning him to it and then checking in a couple hours if I could help the shed off when I felt his hard tail hit my hand. I pulled him back out to find it completely solid. I rinsed the substrate off him and while wiping his tail with my hand after getting it wet it just squished and split to white, bloodless tissue. I put him in a shoebox with a little water and set him near his heat lamp for the moment while I looked online and had a breakdown. After showing my husband he found the same info I did that Eoghan will probably lose his tail and a case of a corn snake they couldn't get ahead of the necrosis and it died. I finally got some juvenile blood specific info and put him in a small bin overnight on a heat mat at 80F but I didn't like the standing water used for adults and had no moss for young so I just layered paper towels until it had absorbed the water and left him. Next day no progress so I switched him to a gravel bottom with water filled to the top of it so he stayed damp and was on a rougher surface. It might have nicked the shed a couple spots by this evening but still it is not coming off.

I tried to rub at it a little but nothing. I don't want to get his tail infected but like I said no sterile moss and I was worried of the risk of a respiratory infection leaving him in the tiny soaking container another night. I moved him to a bigger bin that is more like a foot high with a water bowl he can soak in, a rough rock the same height, and filled it with wet coco fiber to the top of the bowl and rock so there is more air space and he's not forced in water but still damp like the spaghum moss suggested for juveniles. 4am again and I'm waiting to check temps and air flow one more time before I leave him over night again.

I know he's going to lose some tail but with soaking it doesn't look damaged as far up as I initially thought. Still on a short tail there isn't much tail to lose before the reproductive organs. Any that doesn't fall off will probably have to be amputated/cut away to avoid necrosis, I actually have some veterinary training even if not in reptiles, but I have got to get that dang skin to start coming off first or no one can see what's damaged and what isn't. He's been in the water bowl by the coco fiber tracked in and has his front half on the rough rock with his back half in the wet coco fiber. I used warm water so I want to make sure it will hold that suggested 80F all night and cross my fingers with a rough rock against a bowl of water and coco fiber to sit on and slide through things will progress without further intervention. Next step I'm thinking probably has to be a reptile vet to get more forceful/invasive.

I don't know how that tail declined so fast and I feel so bad to think he will live the rest of his life without a tail for not checking soon enough or moving on to soaking from just moisture exposure soon enough during only his 2nd shed (3rd? if he had one with his breeder). I also would just be happy he lives the rest of his life with that as the worst result. His last shed he took like 3 weeks and spent 2 of it trying to maintain on paper before going to soil and soaking, which worked in 24hrs, without suffering any ill effects. Less than 2 days with a single layer of stuck shed he is losing his tail and hopefully not worse. It's been a horrible weekend with some lost fish and a bird problem on top of the 2 snake problems I posted plus not so much an immediate health problem but crazy explosion of fruit flies that forced me to move the pair of geckos I am trying to breed from the glass enclosure to a temporary bin. I also have both the desert king and lavender corn in shed that has always gone fine but I still always worry anyway and now I've got one with major complications from it.
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Old 06-05-17, 06:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: stuck shed, lost tail?

Do you have any pictures of his tail? It's hard to imagine what you're describing. :/

If the tail is injured and he's ill, the only thing that is sterile are paper towels. Slightly lower humidity should be fine for a short time until he heals, if his tail truly is necrotic.

How damp is damp? I describe my bedding as damp for lack of a better word, but it's not even really damp. Damp bedding that you can squeeze water out of is too wet and can cause scale rot, so make sure you're not keeping the bedding wet all the time.
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Old 06-06-17, 07:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: stuck shed, lost tail?

If this tail problem you're having is due to retained shed on the tip, it would take much longer than what you're describing to develop. Is it possible that it retained the tip during the last shed or two and you didn't notice? The absolute best way to get a shed skin off the tail is a warm damp cloth that you hold around the snake at the problem area while it crawls forward...no other technique is easier and if that doesn't work than it must be layers of skin we're talking about. I'd also consider 70% to be a bit low for a blood python going into shed...they won't get an R.I. if the humidity is even at 100% provided the temps are fine...perhaps something to consider going forward. Good luck with everything.
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Old 06-06-17, 07:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: stuck shed, lost tail?

He has only shed one other time for me and when I noticed him getting the crinkly/wrinkled feel I put him in water. After soaking for one day it came off down past his tail tip in a single large piece and then I cleaned off his head. His tail has been shiny with no dulled marking until he got ready to shed again. I don't know how the tail could have damaged so fast.

I was told 70% is good with a humid hide (more like 90%) or a soaking tub on the warm side, plus not fully dry substrate, and the humid hide was just dry enough you couldn't drip water out. The overall substrate is misted to the point it will stick to your hand but could mostly be brushed off with a small fully dry area and flat rock under the far back of each 18" deep hide on hot and cool ends, he doesn't use open ground so I only left a tiny gap in the middle, so he can go to a dry area but usually fits in the front where it still gets misted and pulls nearby soil moisture. My current humidity gauges just read 100% if they touch even slightly damp soil so I set them on thin stone or plastic on the substrate to read right over it and the ambient air higher up on the hides which he usually doesn't even climb high enough to be on them so anything higher was not real important.

It seems he's just not rubbing anything and he's so sedentary. He barely crawls around so he doesn't break the skin loose. I had to clean it off him after soaking last time but he actually started moving to different conditions in the bin himself the past month so I thought being in the humid hide at will with stone and wood of various types around he would get it off. Even after I intervened the outer skin was only getting more solid despite 90-100% humidity with it dripping down the sides of the bin and 80-82F in the bin, after laying in standing water for a day prior, so I rubbed the nicked places but it was only moderately useful getting it off in little pieces. I decided to carefully peel some areas despite the risk but it was really separated except at his spine. His belly came down in pretty much one solid strip with no resistance and his head came off, which I was hesitant to pull over his eyes but just held the section I loosened from his neck and let him move lightly against it ready to let go if he pulled back. I saw the eye cap toward me pop off. I tried to go the correct direction starting at his nostrils but he was highly irritated at that and still has some stuck there. I had to go backward from his neck again for that reason and his breathing seems clear. I tried rubbing his spine but even just doing that with a wet cloth seems to have damaged a spot so I left his back too. It's so dry at his tail I did not feel I could get fully down to it safely but it's clean past his vent and raised area where his genitals should be now.

I know paper towels would be more sanitary but it wasn't working so I went with the sterilized coco fiber short term and switch asap before it's contaminated. When I put him back I decided to put some wet coco fiber over him. Apparently I taught him how to burrow now because I thought him lost despite the high sides to find him 4" down in what's reading as 84F coco fiber on the surface. He seems happier and healthier with response to touch but no irritated striking. I was going to pull him out this evening and see if having broken through the shed and him actually moving into the moisture instead of relying on ambient for his top will soak off the rest to deal with his spine and tail. Then disinfect and put back on paper.

My husband says the snake doesn't know how to snake. You provide the others with what they need and they use it. Eoghan has to be taught to soak, taught to go in humid hides, taught to burrow, taught to rub his shed, taught to go to the warm side when fed to digest food.... I'm not sure that snake has any useful instincts and would just sit in a cool spot doing nothing regardless of conditions and needs unless tempted by running live food and occasionally fresh kill wiggled correctly if in the right mood. Like I said it's only the past month he's moved himself around to different conditions properly such as the warmer hide when hungry and until digested before going back to the cooler side. He doesn't like to be hot and would make escape attempts if the whole bin was raised to 80F along with beginning to strike out at everything in irritation. He went to the warm side to shed though and humid hide once introduced. I guess I shouldn't have trusted him to use it fully even though he seemed to understand it equaled the soaking bin of last time.

I'll get pics now my phone is charged and he's recovered awhile from me getting off what I could but these are after his last shed with a fresh food bulge. I don't have a great one of his tail because I had no reason to concentrate on it when it felt smooth but you can see his cream markings were back to mostly white instead of yellowed like areas where skin was stuck and there is not a line where it turns to stuck shed going around it. There was nothing there to feel and the tail tip was in the shed I collected. It was just his head I had to help with after I taught him getting wet was what he was supposed to do which took an afternoon of putting him back and putting him back and putting him back in the standing water container until the next few times I checked he was soaking himself and he was still in there when it came off the next morning. I repeated that with the humid hide but he seemed to understand this time after only putting him in twice and was there most of the time I checked.



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Old 06-07-17, 12:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: stuck shed, lost tail?

Sorry to hear about the troubles you're having and I hope he recovers.

One thing to bear in mind regarding Curtis. You say he would just stay in one spot forever unless 'taught' to move about. Curtis are incredibly sedentary animals so I would not see that as an issue at all. I certainly wouldn't be teaching it about hides, bowls, warm sides, cold sides etc.

For example I've never seen any of my snakes soak in their bowls and I don't dunk them in their because of it.
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Old 06-07-17, 05:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: stuck shed, lost tail?

I'm concerned that you think this snake needs to be "taught" anything as well as wondering how you're "teaching" it and how much stress would be caused from it. I've owned a few short tails and have ample experience with hatchlings and adults...they aren't pups in training...if your snake isn't "snakeing" then it's usually because of stress caused by something, or in this case as Danny mentioned, it's a species that doesn't do much and you're misunderstanding normal behaviour. Hopefully you were being a bit hyperbolic...

Last edited by Andy_G; 06-07-17 at 06:02 AM..
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Old 06-07-17, 06:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: stuck shed, lost tail?

If he just sits and doesn't shed though because he is not breaking the old skin and having to be hand soaked or removed by hand even in the highest humidity then that sedentary is a major health problem. No amount of humidity makes a shed come off a not moving snake. I think I thoroughly experienced that this past weekend. He'll sit there and either dry out or rot if he does nothing for himself unless I do it all artificially. I'm not sure if one or both has led to the current damage.

If he takes up the activity on his own after shown it and repeats it by himself on further occasions instead of being sedentary by choice I would think it only a good thing. I'm not forcing him to stay somewhere uncomfortable or repeating things forever like a closed soaking container. Only until he shows if he will prefer to do it on his own or recognize it as beneficial to physical needs. I put coco fiber on him once and now he won't stop burrowing in coco fiber and is calmer even at higher temps because he can disappear in coco fiber until only his nose sticks out. Plus he seems to be having the snake equivalent of entertainment piling the stuff and then shoving it all to the other corner to burrow and then do it again. He's not just in one spot every time I look and the bin is not exactly the same with one packed down little sitting spot on top. I have to go hunting for a nose or digging in the biggest pile to sometimes find he's on the bottom of a shallow section instead. He's not sedentary and he doesn't seem to be doing it out of any source of stress or looking for any sort of specific conditions consistently. I put him in water several times and now he goes in water by his own free will when he didn't before. I moved him to the warm side before feeding because he was very slow to take prey at cooler temps but unhappy to have a bin solidly at 80F and now he goes to the warm side when hungry, eats better/faster/more eagerly, and seems to digest faster before returning to the cool side after a couple days. He even realized to go to the warm side and higher humidity this time when shedding which he did not know last time. He's doing these things on his own after experiencing them but not until he is given a reason to. Without a reason he just sat through dry, wet, hot, cold, hungry, not sheltered enough to feel secure...... His only answer to uncomfortable was strike out random directions at noises and movement until it goes away instead of seek a better location with these specific things he's never experienced. I had no clue from him what he needed because he didn't seem to know what he should do. How is it not better to show him he can choose to not be sedentary instead of creating an artificially controlled little sitting spot where everything is done for him to keep him healthy while he does nothing and if his preference was to be sedentary all the time why would he start to be active when shown new things? Maybe I went too fast for him and expected too much compared to showing new things to naturally more active species, they recoil at actual dirt at first and cautiously slide onto real stone tiles until they realize it's appealing stuff, but he's obviously learning new things to do and becoming less reactive toward things that cause stress in doing so. I wonder about a lack of stimulation that would exist in the wild to initiate attempts at new behaviors.

I screwed up somewhere or multiple places. I found out things. I hate a life to be harmed learning and it will bother me forever but I saw new things to understand. If I don't learn a lot in a mistake I reconsider the entire hobby (like birds) because it means it may be beyond my understanding to get it right (like hookbills/parrots).
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