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New Boa Kills but Won't Eat

Discussion in 'Common/Red Tail Boa' started by jcollard, Aug 30, 2008.

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  1. jcollard

    jcollard New Member

    I just bought a nicaraguan boa today and it had last been fed 7 days ago so I gave it a F/T hopper mouse and he attacked it, constricted it but did not eat it. I'm thinking it might be because of the stress of the environment? Let me know what I should do and what I did wrong.
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The snake is stressed from the move. You need to put the snake in it's home and leave it alone for a week to let it settle in. No handling, no feeding. Don't even go into the tank unless necessary.
  3. jcollard

    jcollard New Member

    Okay, thanks. Yeah I figured it was because of the move. I wasn't handling him, I just thought he might want some food, good to know though. Thank you
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Snakes usually won't eat for a week or so after the move to a new location.
    They need time to settle into the new digs!
  5. jcollard

    jcollard New Member

    Yeah that is good. It just confused me because my brazilian rainbow had no problems with anything, but I hear they have a different temperment about food. :p
  6. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    Merlin, I have seen this view expressed all over this forum, from boas, pythons, colubrids, and even into geckos. I have never actually seen any supporting evidence of this, it seems like a hip-shot "seems right to me" sort of fact.

    I mean no disrespect, but in my own experience, my snakes have always eaten when first bought (I always ask when they last ate so I can try to keep their schedule), and they also eat just fine after I re-arrange/replace viv furniture, which is the reptile equivalent of a move. To be perfectly fair, most people will take the snakes out of their vivs and put them into a "high stress" environment (no hides) to feed. My boa eats in a shoe box and my corn eats in a rubbermade, both with nothing but newspaper lining the bottom. If environmental stress was really the deciding factor here I would think it would take some real weaning to get a snake to start feeding out of its home.

    The factors that I really have noticed are: temperature, a no brainer. Everyone knows that if the snake gets a little cold it won't go after prey. Shedding, even well before the snake goes blue, it may stop eating. Both of my snakes do this. My corn recently started, but he's a couple years old now. The boa is still under a year old, but he will refuse to eat up to 2 weeks before he sheds. Time-of-year: all snakes to some degree seem to fast during some months. My corn has taken to the month of August to just flat out refuse to eat. He skips 4-5 weeks and then he's suddenly hungry again. I hear that balls are notorious for long fasts. I would assume that a boa is capable of this as well, even though mine is too young to really start this.

    I don't consider myself lucky either. None of my friends have had this issue, as well as a few people I know who are herp enthusiasts who work at pet stores. The constant hustle and bustle of those places should be enough to debunk this theory. I just feel like the 1-week rule is a fall back explanation when something isn't right, when there may very well be an entirely different and immediately correctable problem at hand.
  7. JIQRP

    JIQRP Active Member

    I get Ball Pythons all the time via Delta Dash. One of the first things I do is find out what type of feeding program they are on with the previous owners. I always introduce a rat inside the enclosure after an hour or two for about 15 minutes to see if they will take the prey after pick up. 90% of the time all of the snakes that I have given a rat to have taken it with no hesitation. I agree that the proper temperature and humidity levels are more important to your snake than acclimating them for a week in their enclosure for security. Some times when they are not used to FT prey they will let go of the prey, or maybe the prey was not warm enough. You can also have them let go of a FT prey when they are spooked(closing the enclosure, making sudden moves etc.):)
  8. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    You can also try fk mice. When I first got my boa I had a live rat pup that I offered him. He wouldn't even look at it. I took it back to the pet store, and they traded me for a small hopper mouse (also live) which he gobbled right up. Smell is very important here.
  9. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    I have to admit that the kill part of this equation is rather odd. Why would he waste his energy to constrict the prey just to crawl away right after? Seems curious to me. How does he react to you?

    I definitely agree with researching the previous feeding regimen. I always get the feeding chart and go by that. If they refuse, I wait a week.

    I have already learned that a feeding box is a recipe for a hungry snake so I feed inside the enclosure on a snake sack (pillow cases are also great).

    I also never dangle the food as to not encourage a constrict. I just set it on the pillow case and assume the Johnny Bench. If they are hungry, they will eat.

    I have currently converted 4 snakes from live to F/T without a problem. Three of which would eat right out of my hand. Maybe it is a trust issue. I would begin handling him, that might solve your problem.
  10. untsmurf

    untsmurf Elite Member

    Moving a snake from his enclosure to a feed box is not the same as bringing one home from an expo or having one mailed to you. Not all animals will respond the same way, but in general (especially with babies) when first introducing an animal to an entirely different environment the animal can get stressed out and might refuse food. It's also a good idea not to feed them for a week, especially with snakes, because feeding an already stressed out snake can result in a regurge. Again, it's not a guarantee, but it happens a lot.

    I would recommend letting your snake settle in for about a week then try feeding again.
  11. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    The first couple feedings it most definitely is just like taking him home from wherever he was. Until a routine is established any and all new surroundings are equivalent.

    And I agree stress will definitely hinder the feeding, but what I'm saying is a move isn't necessarily as stressful as it's made out to be.

    The adopted protocol around here has been to completely ignore the snake for a week, then transfer him to the feeding box and expect him to eat. That makes no sense at all to me. Better to break him in with regular handling so as not to stress him out right before the feeding. The week long neglect method works just fine, but the fact that it works tells me that it isn't the surroundings that are the problem, and that it doesn't take a week to habituate a snake,lizard, or whatever.
  12. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    That is the same thing I say. I got shipped my red tail and she ate two hours after being removed from her sack. I also handle all of my snakes regularly, especially when I first get them, to establish trust and respect. I figure the sooner the better. In fact I usually find that I have to repeatedly show them around their enclosure (water, hot hide, cool side) or they will stay and hide in one spot until I do (probably from me). I show them that there is really nothing to hide from and they are alright.

    But this snake has been home for a week already. It should be time to get the ball rolling by anyone's clock. grin.
  13. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    I agree with Merlin. Let me tell you what tends to happen if you feed a stressed snake OR a snake whose temps are too low because the owner didn't KNOW they had to be a certain temp (you know, not that this ever happens OF COURSE everyone knows the temps their impulse buys should be kept at..duh!)

    The snake will Regurgitate.

    This is very hard on their system as they are not supposed to be fed at least one week after the regurge, but if the problem is not fixed, and the snake still takes food because its hungry (example- baby corns have the appetite of a herd of full grown elephants) and regurges again, you are risking death by the 3rd regurg, if not sooner. I have seen quite a few corns that this has happened to, mainly babies.

    So please, if you're going to post your opinion do not risk the health of someone else's pet. Many people come on here looking for advice and we want to give them the best possible info, the most accurate if you will.

    Not trying to be rude.
  14. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Please, do not handle your snake for at least a week or 2 after getting them. Do you not understand that they need time to adjust to their new home?? How would you like it if some giant just brings you home in a tied off sack then puts you in this home, doesn't even let you rest and get passed being stressed from the move and the new home, just pulls you out and holds you and messes with you every day?? ALL herps need time to settle in...its not a hard concept to understand. Please watch the advice you give as it is more than inaccurate. You know, herps get disease and illness from stress.
  15. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    And a question- have you ever even TRIED not handling the snake right when you get it? You seem to consider your desires over the well being of the snake.
  16. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    If you stop and look at what you are saying from an animal's point of view, you are demonstrating exactly what we are trying to say.

    You put the snake in and it stays in one spot. This is a stressed behavior. More or less an "If I lay very still, nothing can see me and I will be safe."

    By going in and "showing them around" what you are actually showing them is that where they are has been found and where they were is not safe after all and they need to find someplace else to hide.

    I often hear from people who relate that they have done this or that with an animal and gotten away with it, contrary to the advice in husbandry that has been tried and true for many years and generations of animals. Does it mean that they are right? No. Did they just get lucky? Possibly.

    There are reasons that we recommend the things that we do. Many of us have many years of experience with these animals. There are basic guidelines that are developed based on years of observations with many different animals. To just arbitrarily throw those studies out the window based solely on the behavior of one or two animals is not realistic.
  17. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    I'm not posting advice here, I am simply bringing up a challenge to the current establishment. How exactly do you propose we learn if we do not do so?

    It seems like a blind faith that we follow the 1 week rule. But we all need to look at it from the animal's point of view. Change to new surroundings = stressful, sure, I get that. We then leave the animal alone for a week to adjust, no interaction whatsoever. We then handle the animal, which according to logic must be stressful, put them into a shoebox with a little paper, which equals a new location to the animal, just like the new viv did, and then expect a low stress response and a clean feeding. Well, we get our desired outcome, but the path there makes no sense. Perhaps a week isn't necessary. Where did we come by this belief? Because it works? Well, just because it works doesn't mean we understand why it works.

    All of my experience, as well as a little bit of hard inference, tells me that the 1 week rule is bogus and in fact contradictory to the outcome we see.

    I don't agree with the statement that you can "show the snake around". By the same logic as posted above, it may seem like it works, but a lot of outcomes can be explained very easily if we already know what reasoning we want to use.

    However, we use the opposite approach to established snakes. They require regular handling to maintain the trust otherwise they become more wild. If I buy a snake, and put him in a well furnished viv, he does not become acclimated to me until I handle him. He needs to learn that every time I pick him up, he will be put back safely once I am done with him. He cannot learn this by spending a week buried in the mulch of the viv.

    I have yet to see any real reason to adhere to the 1 week rule other than "it works", but as I have already said, it appears that we are personifying these animals. Has anyone done a study with regurge percents on immediately handled snakes vs. those left for 1 week? Where are all of our variables? I will once again quote the feed box. To any newly purchased snake the feed box is just as alien as the new viv. By the current thinking we would need to leave the snake in there for a week if we wanted a clean feeding. We all know this is ridiculous.

    Once again, I am not trying to spread false information, simply asking you all to provide more justification than "because I said so". Many of us on this site have had excellent luck with new snakes. I have personally only had 1 regurge and it was over 10 years ago with a wild caught garter snake. I was 9 years old, put him in a rubbermaid bin with a bunch of toads I had also captured. Unexpectedly he ate one of my toads about 20 min after I captured him, and then regurged it when I picked him up to show him off. This snake was wild and still fed immediately in a new viv, on a potentially toxic food item, and may have only regurged because he wanted to try to escape.

    I am not saying I have enough info to disprove this rule, but what I AM saying is that I see enough inconsistency to bring it into question. It is my personal belief that snakes should be gently handled frequently from the time they come home to establish a trust and tolerance. The only thing I have seen to the contrary is a series of others' opinions, which is not enough to dissuade me.

    If you feel that this type of posting is detrimental to the site I would be happy to discuss with some of you in PM or AIM to keep it off the boards until we can reach an understanding.
  18. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    There is evidence that it works, rather then telling him to play with his boa because it will establish trust give the snake a chance to establish a feeling of security in his new surroundings. There's a good chance he will eat then.
  19. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    You are right, Merlin. And as always very helpful. I should have clarified that I do not walk the snakes around in their enclosure like puppets. That would be silly.

    I do, however, keep a close eye on their activities during the first stages of "acclimation". If they stay in their hot hide, I tap on the glass to signal my coming, I reach in and gently lift the snake from its enclosure. I usually handle it for about ten to fifteen minutes, then I place it back in a different area of the enclosure (like their cool side hide or their soaking bowl). If they slither back to the hot hide really fast, I wait for a day and use the same routine until soon enough, when I walk into the room, I could find them anywhere in their enclosure...because they are not afraid of me.

    My Savu however, does not agree to any enclosure changes without some high end aggression. But they are very territorial and he has come to know me by smell. So in about a day or so, I can again go in without being bit at. (very very slooowly) (lol) But absolutely NONE of the husbandry information on Savu Pythons have been correct so far. So I feel my way around this extremely temperamental snake. Maybe soon enough I will be able to write my own Savu care sheet. (snicker) (giggle) (grin) Booming voice: Who among you opposes me? (LOL really hard!)

    As far as the temps in the enclosure. My Ball liked his temps at 84 in Wyoming, but I constantly find him in the 78 degree part of his enclosure here in New York. So while it is true that certain snakes require certain temperatures...they also are usually not found wild in your geographical area. And humidity is rather hard to keep perfect. That is why I like to adjust the snakes temps and humidity according to their reaction towards their environment. And the sooner they are o.k. with me and their environment, the sooner I can make their environment optimal to their individual liking. For example: My Children's Python does not use the cool side of her enclosure. So instead of following husbandry guidelines, I will raise the temps on the cool side from 80 to 84. Understand?

    But this snake has not suffered a regurge. It is killing and walking away. Is it possible that it does not want to be caught in the middle of eating because it is not completely trusting of its new environment? I say show it that you are not some big giant, but its really large protector.;)

    And Oh, My, Goodness...The top of the page says: "Herp Center...we are a community". Yet we tend to read like an informal care sheet...Why don't we say, "Here is a caresheet AND here are my experiences". Instead we give them care sheet advice and act like we know everything. We don't know everything at least I don't, BUT here are my experiences.
  20. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    If he doesn't feel safe then he won't eat. You have to remember how hard it is for them to get around and strike in order to defend themselves after they have just eaten. He is probably hungry, just doesn't feel like he has a secure place to go once he has eaten. So try giving him some time to adjust and you can even try again in as soon as 3 days if it will make you feel better that your snake has eaten, but I strongly suggest waiting a week.
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