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Boa "Failed to Thrive"

Discussion in 'Common/Red Tail Boa' started by SackOfOreos, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. SackOfOreos

    SackOfOreos New Member

    Hi everyone. We recently got a RTB that has been described as having "failed to thrive." We were fully aware of this fact when we purchased her, but felt she would die if she stayed at the pet store. We know that she was taken to the vet for not shedding properly and was given a few shots of antibiotics, but no definitive diagnosis. They also told us that she didn't eat for a few weeks.

    When we got her home we found that she had mites and have done everything we can to get rid of them. We haven't seen any mites in a few days, so everything looks okay on that front for right now.

    We did her first feeding today and everything appeared to go well. She struck at the mouse and spit it out, but eventually ate it.

    I have a few concerns and am trying to figure out how to get her back to full health and maybe catch her up to where she should be.

    We were told that while she is eating (and we know she is because she ate today), she likes to eat the mouse from the side (and that's what she did today).

    Is there any way to get her to eat the mouse from the head or will it not make much of a difference if she continues doing what she's doing?

    Our biggest concern is that she came in to the pet store in January but is incredibly small. We know that she's lost weight because of her time being ill, but I'm not entirely positive just how far behind she is. She's about 20in and weighs around 48g. In comparison, the healthy snakes that came in around the same time are about a foot longer than her and 100g heavier.

    Is there anything we can do to get her up to speed or does anyone have any general care tips for a snake that failed to thrive?

    She's currently set up in an aquarium with 2 hides, a large water dish, and a large branch. Her tank is around 91 degrees in her basking spot and around 80 on the cool side. We're using an UTH on the right side of the tank and a heat lamp above. We keep the lamp on for about 14 hours a day currently and the temp only drops to around 78 on the cool side at night. Living in CO, we were having a difficult time keeping the humidity above 40% even with misting regularly, but with the addition of moss we were able to get it around 55-65%. I'll post a picture of her when I can.

    Attached Files:

  2. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Hi there, from the photos she doesn't look too bad. How are you measuring your temps and humidity in the enclosure?
    Here is our Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) Caresheet
    As for her taking the feeder sideways, I believe it's a sign she can be moved up to larger mice, or even rat pups if they are big enough. Does the mouse leave a noticeable lump after she eats?
  3. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    "Failure to thrive" is typically the veterinary diagnosis for animals that are born weak, never establish well, and pass early. The fact that your animal has eaten for you is a very positive sign. 68 grams is VERY small for a boa. That being said, if your husbandry is solid (sounds like it is), the mites are taken care of, and your boa continues to eat I dont think there is any reason the animal wont have a successful life.

    I wouldn't worry about eating sidewise. Its not really an issue, and honestly as long as its eating for you givin the condition of the animal Id roll with it

    As far as getting the boa "caught up" weight wise I wouldn't really worry about it. It may or may not. Just feed it on a reasonable schedule and see what happens.

    What kind of under tank heater are you using?
  4. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    Eating sideways is how many snakes learn to eat. If yours has not eaten steadily and it sounds like the case, just keep feeding it and eventually it should come around. I have seen many snakes eat this way and my 7 foot boa still tries on occasion to swallow her rat that way. Sometimes she takes forever to position herself and the rat correctly. Hopefully your little one will come around.
  5. Wyldrose

    Wyldrose Elite Member

    Feed her once a week, power feeding or giving her extra meals is known to shorten boas life spans. My girls are 2 now and eat every 2-3 weeks.

    As long as she is eating she will grow!
  6. EriksExotics

    EriksExotics Elite Member

    I don't want to post anything redundant but to put it simply.. Don't worry about her eating sideways, 9 of my 10 snakes ate their prey sideways last night, it happens and won't hurt her. Feed her on a regular schedule. Don't over feed, don't under feed. Over feeding can have worse effects than under feeding so don't feed her a lot to try to get weight on her. This is called power feeding and cuts most boas lifespan, most power fed boas won't make it past a quarter of their potential lifespan believe it or not. As far as I have heard, no power fed boas make it past 5, 6 years and captive boas that aren't power fed can make it to 20, 30, even 40 years! (40 years and 4 months is the current record, I believe) just give her regular meals and she'll make weight healthily. There's no immediate need to get her weight caught up. The last thing I wanted to mention because I didn't see anyone else say it... Don't think your mite issue is over unless you have some way to kill eggs because right when you think it's all good, eggs start hatching and the issue continues.
  7. TamJam

    TamJam Elite Member

    It looks like you are doing everything right for that little boa and I think she has a very good chance if she stays with you! And I second all the comments advice you have been given.

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