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Adult Milk Snake Not Eating For 2 Months

Discussion in 'Milksnakes' started by MorganLeFay, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. MorganLeFay

    MorganLeFay Elite Member

    Hi everyone,
    I apologize in advance if this is the millionth thread of this kind ;), but I'd rather be safe than sorry. My 9-year-old Milk Snake has been extremely hyperactive for the past 1,5 months or so and has refused to eat for close to 2 months. I tried offering a different prey item (rat pup instead of mouse) and he sniffed it a bit and then continued his crazy cruising. I lef it in his vivarium overnight and he ignored it; had to throw it out the next day. This has already happened 3 times when I tried to offer him food. He's trashing his cage and moving about all the time, non-stop, climbing, cruising, bumping against the glass, it's maddening. As far as I know he is a male, so I suspect it might be breeding season behaviour, although isn't it a bit late for that? :/ I've had him for close to 4 years now and he's always been a bit crazy at this time of year, but it's never lasted this long or been quite so intense. He looks a tad leaner than he used to be, although not emaciated or anything, so I'm not panicking yet, although a bit of worry is starting to set in ;) I would like to know how much longer he can safely go without food before I have to take some additional measures. I've also noticed that he's rubbed off the top layer of some of his scales, but that could be just because he's constantly rubbing against the wood and rocks he has in his viv.
    He has access to clean drinking water and nothing about his tank has changed. The temps are 75 and 85F (I don't know the exact humidity, because my hygrometer broke down, but from what I remember it was somewhere in the 60s right next to the water bowl). The light cycle is sometimes a bit off, because I go to bed rather late and my bedside lamp is usually on until very late. On several occasions it was accidentally on all night, but that doesn't happen very often...I don't know if it could've thrown him off to such an extent.
    Basically I just need some reassurance or info on how long milks can go without eating before they require assistance or a vet visit. Or how long can breeding season behaviour be expected to last.
    Thanks in advance for any input.
     
  2. AmityReptiles

    AmityReptiles Well Established Member

    What size enclosure are you keeping him in? It is a little late for breeding season for wild males, but you have him in a controlled environment, he could be a month or so off schedule. I wouldn't worry for a few more weeks probably, or if you start to see unhealthy loss of weight.
     
  3. MorganLeFay

    MorganLeFay Elite Member

    I'm not too good with imperial units of length, so bear with me ;) The enclosure is 80cmx40cmx50cm (lengh/depth/height). The snake itself is about 110-120cm long. He's been in this particular setup for more than 4 years now; never had any issues.
     
  4. AmityReptiles

    AmityReptiles Well Established Member

    That is a tad on the small side for me. If you have the ability to, I would put him in an enclosure atleast as long as him lengthwise, and for width at least as wide as half his length. So we're looking at 120cm x 60cm.
    That's the ratio I've found works best for colubrids. The size may not be the problem, but sometimes a change of scenery starts them eating again, just a thought.
    There's a few things you can try if you get desperate, what time of day do you usually feed him? One thing I do for colubrids is wait til the "sleepy time", and gently wake them with a mouse infront of their face. Might try that on next feed day.
     
  5. MorganLeFay

    MorganLeFay Elite Member

    OK, thanks for the tips. Unfortunately I don't think an enclosure upgrade will be possible, because that would mean a complete refurbishment of my room (including changing the carpet, which was specially cut to accomodate the - also purpose-bought - chest of drawers supporting the terrarium ). It would be a logistical nightmare, plus rather costly :/ I went for this size because several websites recommended it as the minimum for one adult milk snake (yeah, I know, picking the minimum isn't necessarily good :/). Anyway, I take him out regularly and make sure he gets enrichment and exercise, and so far he's had no issues whatsoever, healthwise. But I will probably be moving house within a year, so maybe then I'll upgrade his enclosure. It will certainly be a prime opportunity ;)
    Btw, he's just as hyperactive outside of his vivarium as inside; he's gone completely insane, which kind of reinforces my suspicion that it might just be breeding behaviour. I just hope it stops soon :/
     
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Your enclosure size is fine. Do you have other snakes nearby?
    To me this does sound like breeding behavior.
    You might try bringing your basking area up to 90.
     
  7. MorganLeFay

    MorganLeFay Elite Member

    Nope, no snakes anywhere in the vicinity. Just the one :)
    Thanks, I'll try that.
     
  8. MorganLeFay

    MorganLeFay Elite Member

    *sigh* No luck yet. I'm starting to get concerned. I've offered several times since posting here, and still no interest. About a week ago he shed and calmed down slightly, but he still takes no interest in food items. I pierced the belly of the last mouse I offered and got some blood out, but it didn't work. I took him out into the garden for an hour in the hot sun, to hammer it into his head that breeding season is OVER ;), to no effect. The problem is that tomorrow I'm going away for 2 weeks and won't be able to monitor his condition. I will try offering again when I come back, and if that doesn't work I think it's time for a vet visit :/ Thing is, I've checked him all over and there is no sign of anything, no mites, no emaciation, no external symptoms whatsoever, although he seemed slightly dehydrated (had slightly 'flaky' scales in a few places, the same thing that happened a few years back when I got him - but it seems fine now, and last time it didn't cause a feeding hiatus:/). He has visibly lost weight, but not to the point of emaciation (his spine is slightly more prominent and he looks leaner, but his sides aren't sunken in or anything). He appears to be drinking regularly. I can't even get his stool analyzed, because the darn thing has nothing left to poop with :mad: I think the last time he ate was early June (I honestly can't remember, but that's what my family tells me).
     
  9. MorganLeFay

    MorganLeFay Elite Member

    OK, he did finally eat. After 3 months (!) he finally decided he was ravenous and threw himself at the mouse as if I'd been purposefully starving him :p He's been through 1 more succesfull feeding since then, and appears to have gained some weight back, so everything is back to normal. :cool:
    Thanks for all your input.
     

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