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Corn Snake Refusing Food

Discussion in 'Corn Snakes' started by TapaidhNaomh, May 17, 2010.

  1. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    Hello everyone,
    About a month and a half ago I bought a hatchling corn snake (who I have named Jude.) For the first two weeks I fed him a single pinkie mouse, which he ate with little to no fuss. Seven weeks later, Jude has consistently refused a meal.
    Now, for the first two of these seven food-less weeks Jude was shedding, and I know that they do not eat when shedding, so at first I was not concerned. However now I'm starting to get a bit wary. He had some skin left on him for a week or two (a small patch) but that is gone now.

    I know that environment has a lot to do with eating, so let me attempt to describe his enclosure.

    I have a tank that fits him comfortably and gives him plenty of roaming room. There is a shallow rock pool, a half-pipe log and a hollow rock for hiding, as well as a fake plant for him to crawl on. The non-water side of the tank is consistently heated to between 80-90 degrees. It is heated day and night by a red lamp which is supposed to be ideal for 24 hour heating (it claims it does not affect the snake's sleep schedule). The tank is a by a window that provides ample sunlight. Humidity in the tank is around 40 or 50 percent.

    As far as Jude's behavior, I can't say I have noticed a shift. He spends his down time either hiding under the log or in a tunnel he has dug under the water bowl. He remains active and is constantly roaming around the tank, scaling the log and rock and twining through the plant and sometimes shimmying up the walls. I handle him for 15-20 minutes a day, simply allowing him to crawl through my fingers and around my wrists and sometimes set him down to allow him a bit more range in his exercise. He's active, appears healthy, and is not noticeably thinner.

    I usually try feeding him at dusk or after dark.

    If anyone can think of a reason for him to not be eating anymore (stressed, improper habitat, etc.) I'd love to know. If there are any checks I can run to help further diagnosis that would be great as well.

    Sorry if this is a long post, but I wanted to put as much information up front as possible to shorten the time it would take to get a useful response.

    Thanks in advance, guys.
  2. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    I would try switching to an undertank heater. Place at one end and give him a hide right over it. You said the hot end is between 80-90 that is a big difference with snakes. I keep my hot end at 90 and room temp at the cool side. An undertank heater is way easier to achieve this with. Make sure you use a thermostat with it. My opinion is it sounds like he is to cold. You can also put a large water dish in there as he will soak and help shedding. What type of substrate are you using? How old is he? We also love to see pics.
  3. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    Please move his enclosure away from the window, direct sunlight will cause the heat in the tank to rise extremely high and will bake your little guy.
  4. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    Forgive my ignorance in this matter but I have a few questions, just for clarification.

    I can understand the reason for moving the tank from the window, though the sunlight isn't direct and I monitor the tank temperature very closely. If I do move the tank from the window, would I have to invest in a UV light in order to compensate for the lack of sunlight, or will he be fine with just the ambient light.

    I suppose a similar question is due for the use of an undertank heater. Would the lack of direct focused light for basking cause an issue? If so what should I do to remedy this. I do have a large pool at the moment that Jude seems to make use of. It also helps to keep the humidity at a steady level, I have found.

    Just to be clear, i am not trying to second guess or contradict, but I have been all over the internet and talked to both the breeder I purchased my snake from as well as a local shelter-keeper and received conflicting information from all sources. I'm just trying to discern if there is a consensus among those in the know.

    Thanks again for your time, help and patience. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


    Pics coming soon.
  5. FXL5

    FXL5 Well-Known Member

    Snakes tend to like belly heat for digestion, rather than just air and overhead heat, hence the use of under-tank heaters. The lack of UV won't harm a corn snake, as far as I know.
    You say 80-90 degrees, that's a lot of variation - what are you using to measure the temperature?
  6. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    To measure the temperature I am using a side-mounted tank thermometer I bought at Petco.
    Also my substrate is a heat treated non aromatic chip. I think the brand is T-Rex Sani-Chip. Something along those lines.
  7. FXL5

    FXL5 Well-Known Member

    If it's a stick-on thermometer, it's almost useless. You're measuring the air temperature, but it will give no indication of the ground temperature, which is far more important - the snake, after all, spends its time on the ground. You need to get a decent digital one, or IR, and measure the substrate temperature.
    The wood chips are almost certainly fine unless they're pine or cedar, which it sounds like they're not.
  8. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    Corn snakes do not require UV light, I use a regular household bulb for mine to give her day/night and basking light,if she chooses to use it. Belly heat is best, as previously said it helps in digestion. Throw away the strip thermometers, they are useless, it is recommended that you purchase a hygrometer, you can pick one up from Lowes, it will give you a digital read out on temp and humidity.
    are you using frozen thawed pinkies? if so try warming them a bit more, put them in real warm water, mine won't take anything f/t unless it is HOT LOL she is picky and spoiled:)
  9. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    No, it's not cedar or pine. I figured if my human olfactory senses could be overwhelmed by the scent of that stuff it must be doubly terrible for a snake.
    I'm currently researching under the tank heaters so I can pick one up later today. The two main brands seem to be Zilla and ZooMed. Anyone have a preference in this area?
    And I thaw the mice in warm water, so they should be pretty warm by the time they get to Jude.

    Also, let me ask: Is it possible he is too warm? I've begun to notice that when it comes to roaming he is very open about where he slithers and spends time, but whenever he settles down to rest it is almost always on the unheated side of the tank.
    Though I suppose if the light isn't heating the substrate correctly it could be that he is warm on that side, but still lacks the belly-heat neccessary for proper digestion. Another reason to get the hygrometer, I suppose.

    Thanks again for all of your advice, by the way. I really appreciate it.
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    What you need is not a hygrometer, which measures humidity but rather a digital thermometer.
    The strip thermometers are inadequate. Get a digital thermometer with a remote probe from the hardware store garden section.
    something like this one.
    Acu-Rite® Model 00888 Wired Digital Indoor Outdoor Thermometer

    Cornsnakes do not require UVB light.

    Its quite possible that the temperature variation is responsible for the lack of eating. They need a warm spot in the tank of 90 degrees to enable them to digest. If its too cool they cannot digest their food.
    Have you seen our caresheet?
    Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus) Caresheet

    The Sanichips are aspen, which is fine for snakes. But you don't have to buy the specifically for snakes bag. Just buy the aspen intended for small animals. For about twice what you pay for the bag of sanichips you can get ten times that much!

    I would suggest feeding outside the tank so that the chips are not accidentally swallowed.
  11. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    I do have a separate tank for feeding, as I was concerned about accidental ingestion of chips. I'd be told by a number of sources that this was a good move.

    I am wondering, though, as I hear more about this: if the problem could be that he is too cool to digest properly then why does he seem prone to avoid resting on the heated side of the tank?
  12. FXL5

    FXL5 Well-Known Member

    Is there anything else different about that side? Proximity to water, perhaps it's darker, a nicer hide? Temperature isn't their only concern.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It may be that your temperatures are more off than you realize. Possibly even too hot. Which could also result in them not feeding due to stress.
    The temperature strips only register the temperatures of the glass wall, not what is going on in the tank. Get the digital themrometer with the remote probe and we will see what is going on. The probe will allow you to move it around and check temperatures in various parts of the cage.
  14. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    I have hides on either side of the tank, though the water is on the cooler side. I will definitely have to invest in a digital thermometer to see if that is the problem. I will let you know what I find out and what developments occur in the meantime.
  15. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    OK, I think we have a possible answer to this conundrum.

    On the cool side, the tank is registering 74.3 degrees with the probe placed just beneath the substrate. On the warm side.... 100.3. degrees. I guess the extreme heat is making Jude stressed.

    Sound about right?
  16. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    I would say so. I still would really look into getting the undertank heater with a stat. Once it is set you have no worries. It is like Ron Popeil says set it and forget it.
  17. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    Oh man, if you can quote me a classic informercial line then I am powerless to resist your influence. It shall be done.
  18. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    And I am a firm proponent of thermostats myself!
    Makes things sooooo much simpler!
  19. TapaidhNaomh

    TapaidhNaomh Well-Known Member

    Well, ladies and gents, I have it now so that Jude's enclosure is around 75 on the cool side and about 87-88 on the warm.

    Jude is still favoring the cool side for most of his inactive time, lounging next to the pool of water. Still slithering up the walls of the enclosure as though looking for egress from time to time.

    However, still hasn't taken any food.
  20. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    How old is he? You said he ate for 2 weeks and now nothing. Established corns eat with no problem. On the other hand, about 10% don't ever really get going. They may eat for a while and then nothing or not at all ever. Look at his belly and see if there is any black discoloration. This is what all of my problem feeders exhibited. The other thing is try moving him to a smaller enclosure and feed live x-small mouse pinks. This worked for some of my guys. Good luck.

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