Thursday, January 19, 2012

Common snake feeding problems

Unfortunately, feeding any snake is not always as simple as putting a mouse in the tank to take it away the next morning. An occasional snake will refuse to feed, and it can be hard to get going again. There are all sorts of feeding hints and tips, but there is always a reason why a snake is not eating. Below is a checklist of reasons, and then solutions to the problems:

1) Inappropriate vivarium / box

2) Insufficient heat protection

3) No cover or hiding area

4) Unsuitable food item

5) Recently, wild caught animals

6) Other

1) Inappropriate vivarium / Box

Generally, when a snake refuses to feed, the first thing you should consider, especially if it has recently been purchased, if the environment is correct. Is your vivarium too big? It is possible to have something too small, but this is rarely the case since snakes often prefer tighter surroundings. Many owners are so eager to put their Hatchling snake in a 3 or 4ft vivarium that they are shocked to hear that this kind of treatment can ultimately lead to a dead snake. The vivarium / box should gradually get larger as the snake grows. For a Hatchling snake a tupperware box no larger than the length of the hose should be given.

2) Insufficient heat protection

All hoses must have a thermal gradient, meaning they can go to one end of the housing to heat up and move to the opposite end to cool down again. If the hose is kept too warm, its metabolism speed up who generally do not get it to go from his food, but it would need more food to keep it going. If the snake is kept too cool, it can go off its food. Not only that, its metabolism will have slowed causing the digestive system work more slowly than normal which can cause the snake to regurgitate all the foods they may have ingested.

3) No cover or hiding area

By keeping snakes in a Tupperware box, a hiding place not entirely necessary, especially if you have a deep layer of the substrate for the snake to hide in. But perhaps the most crucial factor in keeping snakes is that they feel safe . Whether you choose to use an ice bath, a cereal box or a naturalistic piece of cork bark, the hose must have an area to retreat back to where it feels safe.

The size of the hide area is also important. It should be large enough to fit in the hose, with very little room for anything else. You can also use artificial plants and branches, covering a larger area in the vivarium. Some snakes can feel more comfortable among the leaves and branches.

If the snake refuses to feed all these hidden places provided, it is worth placing the food in hiding himself, or at its entrance. The snake can feel secure but not secure enough to venture out to eat. This technique often works with the newly acquired units.

4) Unsuitable food item

There are many ways to offer your snake a food item. First, find out the size food item it needs. A rule of thumb is that the amount of food offered should not be wider than the circumference of the hose. If the snake refuses the food, try something smaller.

Below are some bullet points that explain the different foods, and your method of feeding them:

o Try offering mice and rats of varying sizes. If these fail, try chicks, gerbils, hamsters or similar sized rodents or birds.

o Many users believe that certain snakes will only take special colored rodents. Try white, brown and black rodents or other colors, you can find.

o scenting food item with a lizard frog, chick, fish, canned fish oil or a live mouse can stimulate its feeding response.

o Try using freshly killed mice, this smells a lot more, and must still be hot. This method works in many cases and are worth considering.

o Try to cut the tip of the nose away from rodent to expose the meat slightly.

o Braining is another method - this works by using a needle or a sharp knife and cut the top of the rodent head, exposing the brain. For some reason brain smells really good to snakes!

o Do not touch the food item, sometimes, if it smells like the owner of the food, it will not go for it.

o Try to warm up for rodents, put it on a heat mat in a few minutes, or dipping the head in boiling water. Be careful not to overheat the food as it can be so hot it will literally split in the stomach, which is not pretty!

o Tease feeding is a method commonly used by many users, and this involves a pair of long tweezers or forceps, and literally wiggled food around in front of the tube, acting as if it were alive. If this fails, try lightly tapping the tube on the nose with the food, sometimes they seem to be out of anger, so if it connects with the rodent head will often coil round and constrict as a natural reaction.

o Live-feeding is a method that should be a last resort. There are many users who are able to get almost any snake feeding without resorting to feeding live. But the more inexperienced users may not be able to try all the tricks of the trade. Before resorting to feeding live phone around a few known herpetologists and ask for help. Any herpetologist who is a member of a sort of club or organization is usually more than willing to lend a helping hand. Live feeding is not a bad thing in itself, but often a snake will take to meet food and begin to reject anything else. Unless you have easy access to live mice, this should be avoided.

5) Recently, wild caught animals

This could possibly be the most difficult problem to solve in terms of feeding. A wild caught snake will be feeding on live animals all his life. So is take it out of its natural environment in unfamiliar surroundings and offer it to a dead mouse is often just asking too much! Not only will it only be fed with live, but it will have encountered almost all animals that naturally co-habitat, such as frogs, lizards, small rodents, birds and bird eggs, plus other smaller snakes and many more potential food sources. The snake could have been feeding on a dozen food items throughout its life, so be sure to try as much as possible.

6) Other

Breeding season is a common time when snakes will go out of their food. Males very often refuse to feed because they think more about mating than anything else. This is familiar with many snakes and generally starts from February to May depending on the breeding cycle of the serpent in question. Females rarely go out of their food when it comes to breeding, as they need all the fat reserves to produce eggs. It is not uncommon, but for the woman to stop feeding about a month or so before she lays her eggs. The reason for this is not entirely clear, it could be because the eggs take up so much space in the snake's body, it can be hard to digest and process food. The only solution to this is to wait and keep trying, it should not last longer than 2-3 months and for a healthy snake, it will not be affected.

Stress is a major killer in snakes, and can be purchased for many reasons. A significant factor is over handling. Many owners buy a pet snake and all they want to do is play with it. This is trivial, but snake needs its own time like everyone else. I propose a newly acquired Hatchling hose to handle it for not more than 20 minutes a day. This can be spread out in 10 minute intervals if you wish, but the less you handle it the better. As it grows older and becomes more accustomed to you and you can now do it more and more. If the snake refuses to feed, the first thing you should do is to stop dealing with it because it just adds more stress.

Other methods of non - feeders

1) Drying the snake out - This method stimulates the snake to look for moisture, which can be in a food. Remove the water bowl out for about a week and move the temperature up just a few degrees. After a week, soak an appropriately sized rodent in water for thawing, and offer it to the hose dripping wet. Make sure the hose is not offered food item on a substrate such as wood chips or aspen. You should keep your snake in the newspaper for this entire process. If the snake starts to look at all emaciated, put water back into the same. This whole process should be monitored very closely.

2) If the hose is very young or small, try to offer the tails of rodents or chicken legs. It is easier to swallow, and may stimulate them to feed. If it will only eat these foods instead of pinky mouse, coat them in a vitamin and calcium supplement. A good balanced vitamin supplement is Repton.

3) Try to offer food at different times of day. Most snakes are primarily nocturnal, but they may prefer to take food in the early morning hours instead of the evening.

4) Place the food in different areas of the vivarium. Try the higher up in a branch or under the hide area. Many users have had success by placing a rodent in the middle of a toilet roll. The snake will feel secure in this, and is a perfect hiding area to safely eat its prey.

5) The temperature of the food is sometimes a stimulant. Keep food at normal room temperature to begin with, but if this fails, place it on a radiator or something similar, until the food item is hot.

6) If your snake is a Hatchling, try to find a small, dark pot with a secure lid. The tubs which wax moth larvae put out perfect. Place a pinkie and the snake in the bath together and then place in a warm area but not directly on a heat source. Leave it overnight, and with luck the food will be gone. You can also try braining method and placing it in the tub.

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