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need help with blind old rat snake

Discussion in 'Ratsnakes' started by nicole, Feb 17, 2007.

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  1. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    Hi, I am new to this site and I must say an excellent site! My question is I took in a blind old rat snake yesterday that has cataracts in both eyes and a cyst in one, or some kind of tumor. I run a reptile rescue/rehab mostly specializing in iguanas so this is the first rat snake for me. I was wondering if any of you have heard of this problem with the eyes and could give me some tips on how to care for it. the center that takes all the snakes i get in is full so it looks like this one is up to me. I do have a vet appt for Friday, however I was also wondering if you could give me some tips on how to sex this snake without probing as i do not want to cause anymore undo stress on the poor thing. thanks so much for any info you could give me!!
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member


    To the best of my knowledge, there isn't much of anything you could do for the snake in regards to the eye issues. I may be wrong, but nothing is coming to mind.

    Sorry I wasn't of more help, but welcome to the site!
  3. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    is there a possible way to give an educated guess to the sex of this snake without probing? he/she is a big sweetie, i just fed it 2 f/t medium mice and it does not even strike or coil around them or anything. It just opens it"s mouth like a little baby bird and i placed the mouse in with tongs headfirst and it ate both of them like that, i have never seen anything like it as far as behaviour goes. the only info i got on the snake was they felt that since it could not see that it needed to die naturally so they had not fed it in over 5 weeks. that confused me a little as to starving to death is not a natural death to me, so i asked a few more questions and they said the snake could never find the mouse they dropped in the corner and it would sit there and rot, so hence they fed no more. the snake is pretty skinny and about 5 and a half feet long, dehydrated and barely moves when he had his first bath last night. Oh did I mention the mites.
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    First off Welcome to HerpCenter! Do you have any previous experience with snakes. There care is a lot different than iguanas.

    Letting an animal starve to death is natural?:confused:
    People like that make me want to ,....:mad: Well I can't say it but it would be very ugly!

    An adult snake does not become noticeably skinny in just 5 weeks. They can go for months without eating and show no ill effects or even loss of weight. It sounds like this snake has had improper care for a considerable length of time!
    First thing is you need to get rid of the mites as they are draining an already weakened animal.
    Here is our page page on mites.
    Snake Mites - An approach to snake mite removal and identification
    When you soaked him did he drink?
    I would continue to give him daily soakings to both rehydrate as well as keep the mites knocked down. I would also put some pedialyte in his water bowl to aid in the restoration of electrolytes.
    The fact that he is feeding is a good sign. That is one less hurdle to cross. A fecal sample to rule out internal parasites is also a good idea.
    I don't know of anything that could be done for the cataracts but the cyst or tumor could be surgically removed.
    As for sexing, probing, properly done by someone that knows their stuff, is not particularly stressful. I have had snakes probed that didn't act like anything was even going on! Some say you can tell sex based on the tapering of the tail but this is not found to be anything more than a guess. The sex is really not necessary to know unless you intend on breeding since sex doesn't affect behavior as it does with iguanas.

    If you have any questions or uncertainty about anything please post back and ask. And keep us apprised on how he is doing
  5. Colleen

    Colleen Elite Member

    Welcome to Herp Center. Sorry you have to join us with a sick snake, the advice that has been given is great. As for sexing ask you vet on Friday when your take him in, the vet should be able to probe him for you. Like Merlin said take a fecal sample with you to the vet also.
  6. DarkMagician207

    DarkMagician207 Elite Member

    welcome to HC! glad you joined us. good luck with the snake. let us know how things work out. :)
  7. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    thank you merlin for all the wonderful answers!! as far as experience with snakes compared to most of you i would consider myself with much to learn, I at the moment have 1 red tail boa, 2 ball pythons, and now the rat snake. The snakes I get in are not usually here for more than one week as i transport them to another rescue who specializes in snakes and he has been full for quite some time.All the above snakes are rescue. As far as how long they had him i am not sure I did not stick around long enough to ask a whole lot as I was horrified!! I was really sure the other rescue would take him! LOL.
    As far as the mites I am doing the baths actually morning, noon, and night also for rehydration. He is also a great drinker, every single time so far that he has had his bath. He also drinks from the water bowl too!! YEAH! He drinks more than any other snake that has came in here. I use paper towels for his substrate as they are fairly easy to spot the mites on and will clean his habitat daily. It is just basic for now, water bowl, hide box, and paper towels.
    I will bring a fecal sample to the vet on Friday if I can manage to get one by then. As far as his feeding I just fed him 2 should I give him more? I do not want to overfeed but geez he looks like he has not eaten in months and months!
    Last but not least the tumor is on the inside of the eye, wow! Do you think that can be removed? I have had a lot of snakes come in and out of here quickly but I have never seen one in this shape ever. Once again thanks for any help!
  8. Sean Boyd

    Sean Boyd Elite Member

    Welcome to HC! Keep us posted about the snake.
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    If he is drinking that much then I suspect that not only were they withholding food they were witholding water. This is criminal neglect and animal cruelty! I would report him to the authorities!

    I would allow the snake to rest for a week to digest his feeding and then feed again. You don't want to over stress him by keeping the digestive process going full tilt all the time. If he has been off feed for so long if you over feed you risk a regurgitation which will further tax his system.
    You want to use a prey item about the size of his body at the widest point, and equal size rats would be preferable to mice as they contain more meat and fat for their size but if all you have is mice thats fine. If your prey items are small then multiples are ok, just don't get carried away.
    If the snake hasn't been feeding it is possible that there will not be a bowel movement between now and the trip to the vet but the vet may be able to extract one by going in and getting it. Mine has done it.
    As for the growth behind the eye, I am not a vet and am not qualified to speak on that. Your vet is your best option there.
    Do you know what kind of ratsnake it is?
  10. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    I have no idea what kind of rat snake it is, the man told me a leucistic (spelling?) rat snake from texas? I do not know if that is where he got it from or not. It is albino with at one time pretty blue eyes. As far as the authorities, exotics have no rights here, you can report them until you are blue in the face, animal control does nothing! The only thing they will do is call me when they get them in, they have never followed up on any reports that I have made. The only thing they follow up on are dogs, cats,horses, and livestock only if it is extreme.
    Good news is he is moving around in his enclosure, finally acting like he is alive!! YEAH! Bad news is he gets to the top and completely falls over backwards, maybe somekind of neurological disorder? Or just serious malnutrition. I do have frozen rats in the freezer always handy, i just don't think I have any small enough for him. I will let him rest tonight and take a pic tomorrow and post it when I figure out how to do that, forgive me I am technically challenged, although my 5 year old could probably do it for me!! Lol. Thanks so much again!
  11. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member


    The advice I am about to offer is going to go against what most people who keep snakes will believe or endorse. However, I have had some lengthy discussions with a friend on this, so I feel this is a good place to share the information.

    While it is believed that most snakes do not require any type of UV exposure to properly digest dietary calcium, it has been shown that low level UV exposure benefits them greatly. (There are current studies being conducted on snakes and UV exposure.)

    If you have the ability, offer UV exposure to the ill snake for 2-3 hours a day. Make certain the snake can hide from the UV if he chooses, but offer it. Amazingly, if the snake needs the UV, it will actually lay out beneath it.

    This is not as strange as it actually sounds. In the wild, every animal (diurnal and nocturnal) has direct and indirect contact with UV exposure.

    Seeing as you normally keep iguanas in the rescue, I am confident you have a UV light that you could give the ratsnake access to for only 2-3 hours per day.

    I would also suggest the use of a probiotic such as Nutribac. You don't want to stress the snake any more than needed, so I would suggest getting the nutribac in paste form, and then placing some in its preys mouth. This will help replace some of the gut flora and will help re-strengthen the current supply.
  12. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    From your description it sounds like a trans pecos ratsnake, Bogertophis subocularis, which is often seen in the Leucistic form, white with blue eyes. And they are from Texas.
    The raising up to the top of the enclosure and falling back over is not an unusual behavior and doesn't necessarilly signify a problem. Many snakes will do this. They just extend to a point where they lose their balance and Thump!
  13. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    Wow all of you have been extremely helpful! Thank you! Merlin I do believe you are right on the Trans peco rat snake as I was up for hours last night on the internet trying to figure out what this poor baby was, and the pics I found on them are the closest looking.
    Rich what type of uv lighting as Yes I do have an enormous stockpile of it. I would hate to put in a tropical or desert and have that be too much I do have the 2.0 for the frog/amphibian when I got in dumpys that had a skin infection and I used that on them and it seemed to work great, but that is a whole different topic in itself! I do have an area to bask for him which runs from 90 to 92 then the bottom runs about 80 to 85 where he seems to like it the most. I know the uv lighting is controversial as some people say yes, others say no.
    The other question I have is I am using an antibacterial cream on his burns, which some are from direct contact with some kind of heat source and, hold on to your seats here, cigarette burns. Hideous! What would be the one you recommend the most? Also he is still being treated for the mites of course I do everyhting I can to keep the medication out of the open wounds. I am using Reptile Relief made by Natural Chemistry for the mites.
    Looks like the vet and I are going to be real good friends! Snakes are a lot different than Igs thats for sure! I am going to get a few books sometime today or tomorrow as it looks like the 4 i got in are going to be here a while until there is an opening at the other rehab. i already have the books that the pet stores sell that just have the basics, I want something that has a lot more detail in it. Any recommendations?
    Oh by the way he has been named King Arthur, as it seems fitting that he finally be treated like the king he deserves to be!
  14. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Cigarette burns?:mad:
    Good grief!
    Some people are just a waste of good air!:mad: :mad: :mad:

    The most commonly used ointment for burns is silvadine. Neosporin(triple antibiotic) is also used.
    Reptile relief is a good product and is one of the safer things used for mites.
    With all due respect to Rich I have never seen any proof that UVB is needed for snakes. Of course it won't hurt them either as long as there is a place for the animal to retreat from it. Since you already have it it would't hurt to put on one. A 5.0 flourescent should be fine.

    What area are you located in. Perhaps we have some members around that might be intersted in rehoming the snakes.
  15. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    The closest area you would probably recognize is Seattle I am about an hour and a half away from there. I am willing to travel to get these animals a great home! On the down side to that I want someone with way more knowledge than I have and who has the room to properly house these babies, so I will be ooh whats the proper word, picky or discriminating as to who can adopt as I am with my iguanas. As far as King Arthur goes I have become very attached in the short while I have had him, so I have not decided yet as to whether he stays or goes He also needs vet care which he will be getting friday and a lot of rehab work, which is a lot to ask of someone financially.
    I am using neosporin on the wounds which are not looking like they have so much puss in them this morning. I spoke to the 24 hour vet early this morning and he says to keep doing the neosporin and the baths and the daily cleaning of mites and not to feed again until I see the vet on friday, just to let the feeding I already gave him settle and digest. I can say that he seems to check his water bowl quite often to see if it is still there and is still drinking TONS!
  16. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I completely understand!

    That is standard operating procedure with most of the legitimate rescues I am familiar with. Nobody wants to see an animal sent somewhere, only to have it show back up later in bad shape once again. We all like to see the animal go to a "forever home" where it will be appreciated and properly cared for.

    I also understand your attachment to King Arthur. I, myself,have a plain old, run of the mill, garden variety, corn snake that I paid 12 dollars for years ago. The snake became ill and, after a couple of hundred dollars worth of vet bills and having to force feed and give oral medicines every day for 3 months, finally pulled through. He is still one of my favorites and will always hold a special place in my heart.
    Due to the eye problem it will take a special kind of keeper to care for him. IF you do decide not to keep him I hope you find that type of person.
  17. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    I will probably end up keeping him and just let him live the rest of his days out in peace! I cannot imagine many people wanting to put out that kind of money on an old rat snake, or should I rephrase that, willing to put out that kind of money! Of course however if the right person came along with the knowledge that makes me look like a moron LOL, I of course would be tripping over myself to hand him over as that would be in his best interest, and that in my opinion is what it is all about! Of course there is the other snakes I have which is a whole different thread in itself, maybe I will put one up as soon as I can figure out why all my pics are too big to post on this site, maybe iI will have to use my childrens kid tough digital camera to post pics as that seems to be the only one that takes pictures that I can post on this site, Too bad I am so technically challenged!! (laughing Hysterically)
  18. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    Great news!!!! King arthur is doing so much better in the short couple of days I have had him!! He is so active now!! YEAH! The wounds and burns are looking better already, hardly any puss today. I am so excited! It is amazing what a liitle food, water and care will do! Today is a great day for him I cannot wait to see what the vet says about him on Friday! I will keep you posted.
  19. The D

    The D Mango Empress

    that's fantastic! thank goodness he ended up with you and is getting the TLC he desperately needed. good work and definitely keep us posted!
  20. petsareusrescue

    petsareusrescue Elite Member

    You can offer the snake some pedialyte to drink which will help rehydrate. Make aure you have a bowl big enough for it to soak in cause mites are really uncomfortable. Just let it chill for awhile
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