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Black MilkSnake Question

Discussion in 'Snakes - General' started by Skumbo, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    So, i just got my first snake - a Black MilkSnake at a reptile expo in manchester, and the breeder only breeds black milksnakes, and has been for a long time now.

    I can't find much info online about them, but some things i find about "normal" milksnakes seems to go against what the breeder suggested in the big packet of information he gave me (he also gave me his email but has been slow getting back) He had a very healthy (and nearly 7 foot o.o) adult whos offspring i purchased one of. I just couldn't get over how awesome he was and how friendly he seemed. I've always wanted a snake, and just had to do it.

    Now, He's about 22 inches long (measured the sheded skin, hes always in knot it seems lol), had his first shed (a good clean one!) two days ago, about a day after I got him. I tried feeding him a pinkie (but he didnt take it, though im sure hes just scared about moving/etc. and im not worried yet)

    Anyway, so here are a few questions of info he gave me vs what im seeing for "other" milk snakes.


    Heating/Lighting:

    He says no need for UV lighting, as they hide all day and are active at night in nature and get their vitamins from their food (makes sense as I minored in nutrition)
    The big confusion is.. no need for heating as long as its 68-75 degrees during the day and 65-70 at night (about, since thats how they live in the wild) with plenty of places to hide/burrow. Slightly cooler during winter, slightly warmer during summer (will probably happen anyway).

    I'm also finding lots of info saying that it might take 1-2 weeks, and to keep trying for him to feed for the first time after his first shed, but the breeder told me to try once a week for 4-6 weeks (and if he wont feed after that he'll come get him and refund me or give me a new snake, but im attached and want him to be healthy and happy!)

    He also said to use paper towels, but a lot of things online suggest Cyprus mulch, whats a good brand? I dont mind paying the money for a brand that wont be dusty or sharp, and is healthy. (I'm thinking he'd enjoy burrowing into it more as he's definitely a burrower!

    He also suggested that as they dont like to climb, they'd rather burrow, that i dont need a "tall" cage and a long/wide cage is better for the money.

    Just looking for some people who have experience with these other than someone who sold me the snake, you know?

    I tried searching around the forum but didnt find anything on black milk snakes specifically..

    Thanks!!


    edit: here's Eddie on the day we got him:

    snakey.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

  2. teach920

    teach920 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Welcome to the site...and very nice looking snake you have there...
    As to your questions, sorry, I don't have any firsthand knowledge or dealings with MilkSnakes, so I can't offer you any advice on your questions, but I do know several of our members have plenty of firsthand knowledge regarding them, and hopefully one of them will be along shortly to answer your questions..
    Again, just wanted to welcome you and again, very nice looking snake:)
     
  3. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    thanks! Hope one of them notice my thread :D
     
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I have no personal experience with them but I can speak to a few generalities. Maybe I can help with some of the confusion until someone else comes along.
    From what I have been able to gather, since they live in the high elevations of mountain regions of Panama and Costa Rica they like it a bit cooler than the general milksnake species. 72-78 degrees for a daytime temp is recommended. At 80-85 degrees they metabolize their food too quickly and can be come obese.
    No special lighting is needed since the snake consumes whole organisms, Its gets all its nutrition from them.


    I would agree with that. The mistake many new keepers make is to try to feed day after day after day, which stresses the snake out. I would also recommend not handling until it takes a meal or two.
    The point of keeping a new snake on paper towels (or newspaper for that matter) is to make it easier to monitor wastes and check for the possiblity of external parasites. It also makes it so you don't have to remove the snake for feeding. If you feed on a wood substrate you risk the snake swallowing it and becoming impacted.
    As for cypress mulch later, that is just a matter of preference. I have used bagged mulch from the garden center. Just make sure what you get is not the red dyed stuff.
    Agreed!

    Try doing a search for Lampropeltis triangulum gaigeae
     
  5. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    Thanks for the replies!

    The breeder got back to me, he said he had 3 he didn't sell at the show, two of which ate for the first time today when he put them in a deli cup with a pinky, which i tried to no avail. I guess hes just being a stubborn one. He suggested putting an adjustable under-tank heat pad on low so it'll make one side room temp (about 70) and the other side upper 70's at the most, he told me to stay under 82 degrees as around 85 black milk snakes will digest food too quickly.

    So im gonna try and pick up an adjustable tank heater and see if he likes the heat gradient at all Everyone and everything im seeing says "he'll be fine hes probably not hungry yet" but i just want him to be healthy as possible :p
     
  6. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    So I got the heater pad and he definitely likes it, goes on it for a few hours a day then slithers around the rest of the tank. he seems a lot more "energetic" if i take him out now, but he still hasn't taken to food. :(
     
  7. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I know it's hard to resist, but try not to handle him at all. Let him get settled in. Offer food once a week, and feel free to try different things. Though we strongly encourage feeding F/T rodents, it may be necessary to start him off on live pinkies, and worry about switching him later.

    Most milk and king snakes are good eaters - be patient, I'm sure your guy will eat. He is cute!
     
  8. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    no place near me to get live pinkies, so im working with F/T, ive only handled him twice in the last two weeks, once cause he tried escaping when i was giving him fresh water and another when i replaced his paper towels with substrate (he burrows around and seems better off than paper towels)

    I last tried feeding last thursday, and will again this thursday, thanks for the reply :D
    what "different things" should i try?
     
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I was thinking the trying a live pinky, but you said you can't get them. Maybe try offering at different times of day, try warming it up a little, so it feels like it has body heat (hair blow dryer may work)
     
  10. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    I tried warming it up the last two times, i even tried putting him in a deli cup (on suggestion by the breeder, he said hes gotten the others to feed this way.. but with live pinkies), i also tried braining one of them (im not squeemish or anything, ive done cadaver work before, so a dead baby mouse isnt going to bother me much.) I read somewhere that braining them helps with the smell, apparently?
     
  11. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    It's strange that someone would sell a snake that he had not eaten yet? Weird! Is the guy willing to trade one of the ones that took the feeder without hesitation!
     
  12. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I have read about the braining as well.

    You might try scenting, by getting your dead pinky to smell like another rodent (gerbils, hamsters) you can use bedding from another rodent to thaw it. Some of my snakes react better to food that is scented like something else.
     
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Something else you can try is dipping the pinkie in chicken broth. Sometimes this entices reluctant snakes to feed.
     
  14. hennisntacanibal

    hennisntacanibal Elite Member

    Is it wrong that I thought that sounded kind of tasty? Maybe it's the cravings... ;) I'll just have some chicken soup instead.
     
  15. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    LOL, you crack me up! go and have yourself a nice cup of chicken soup minus the mouse!;)
     
  16. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    I went to feed him again today, and he looks pretty milky, like hes about to shed (and therefore probably not interested in feeding) it's been a week, so im trying anyway (have him in a deli cup w/ a F/T warmed up pinky in a dark room)

    is it normal for a snake to shed twice before feeding?


    He has been in contact and is fully ready to refund or replace him if he doesnt feed, he told me this when i bought him, and they had a big sign that said "Those marked blue have not fed" (and the three that had fed were gone, also being new to this i wasnt sure why that was such a big deal..) He assured me he would guarentee they eat or hed refund me and swap snakes for one that has fed. Im a bit attached now though :(

    he said if it goes over 8+ weeks without him feeding, he can meet up with me and try and force-feed him, he said hes been breeding for 11 years and only had one snake he had to force feed, and a few that took about 6 weeks to feed. (as im sure force feeding is not great for a snake, though better than dying im sure..)

    Ironically, i have a pet rat (my girlfriends) and i tried this, we dont use pine or anything bad for snakes for their bedding so i rubbed a little "scent" onto the pinky hes currently in with right now.

    I read about this. I dont really eat soup, but i guess i could try it if all else fails.. haha.

    I did too. >.>
     
  17. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It won't hurt to try,
    One really has nothing to do with the other other than for an impending shed to make the snake not interested in feeding.
    At least the seller was honest about it and willing to work it out with you.
    Occassionaly a baby snake is difficult about feeding. It may take some doing to get it going but once done they are more co-operative in the future. But every onc ina while you get one that just will not feed due to some sort of issue.
    I understand the attachment, but if your experience goes bad,....

    Having to assist feed, which is a little different than a true force feed is not too difficult if you know what you are doing. I have had to do it a few times myself with couple of hatchling cornsnakes
    But even that is to be avoided if possible.
    I would just let the snake shed and see what happens afterwards.
    Please keep us posted!
     
  18. Skumbo

    Skumbo Active Member

    Yeah, the big thing for me is I want him to be healthy, so if that involves giving him back to the breeder so he can take care of him (assist feed for a while, etc.) in a way i dont know how, i'd rather do that. its just a bit sad. Hasnt happened yet though!


    So if hes gonna shed again, should i not try to feed him till he sheds again?

    I had him in the cup w/ it for about an hour, he didnt take to it. so i just put him back in his cage (breeder suggested feeding away from the cage so he doesn't get substrate in with the pinky by accident)

    I have no problem "assist" feeding him (i looked up videos on it now) if thats what it comes down to, hes my only pet, and it doesnt bother me. So if it comes to trying assist feeding, im willing to do that before giving him up
     
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    When my snakes are in shed mode I don't even try to feed them.
    Most of the time they won't take it.
     
  20. hennisntacanibal

    hennisntacanibal Elite Member

    My ball was in shed (actually half way out of his skin) when I went to feed him last, so I put the rat back in the freezer to wait a few days. It's very common for baby snakes to shed several times in between feedings because they are growing so rapidly. Also I don't know exactly how old your snake is but the very young ones (who haven't fed yet) are sometimes still full from the egg stuff (what is that called? I want to say amniotic fluid).

    I hope he eats for you! It sounds like you are doing everything you can and with any luck that will pay off.
     

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