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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. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    O.k. Here It goes...
    Yes, because I had a lot of questions when I first came to Herp Center. I did not handle the White Lipped Python for a week. It did not do him any good...he escaped on the 8th day after a feeding trial and I found him on the floor 5 weeks later dehydrated!!! I also did not handle my wild caught Eastern Garter (for obvious reasons). But every other snake since the White Lipped, I have handled BECAUSE I learned from this life threatening mistake of letting a snake to its own frightened devices. What if I were a big snake eating giant? They would not know for a whole week, now would they?
    And I guarantee you this: It is much more devastating to sit in the hot dark, attic for 4 1/2 weeks hauling in buckets of mulch, spreading flour on the floor, and turning live mice into little tupperware traps just to find your still breathing, already internally shut down snake on the floor as you rush to the sink and try to give him fluids for an hour before you finally give up.
    Get over myself??? I did. And now I DO what is best for my herps. I establish trust.
    P.S. I have since then housed the WC Eastern Garter and currently the extremely active, extremely strong, adult Children's Python in the same enclosure with no escape mishaps.
  2. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    That comment was not aimed towards you.
  3. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Of course we read like an informal care sheet. We have some very good and much experienced herp keepers here. People come onto this site asking for advice. We give them our advice. We aren't going to say every time "this is my experience" we are just going to make a suggestion. If someone is doing something that is flat out wrong, we will tell them, not to make them feel dumb, but for the benefit of the animal.

    99% of the time they take it well and make the changes. There is a 1% of the time where the person gets hurt feelings over being "wrong" and they usually move on after much head butting.

    And the reason why we all say the same thing, is that we agree with each other.

    And when we say to leave them alone for a week or two, we don't mean put them in their cage and walk away! We mean to change water and keep and eye on them, go in for feeding and that's it. Check on their well being by all means.

    Even my whites tree frogs needed some adjusting when they went into their new home. They were clearly stressed out the first few days. They only get fed once every 3 or 4 days, so I was sure to feed them the night before the move. And in fact they didn't eat the next feeding because of stress. I bugged them only once a day, and that was to mist the tank and change the water bowl. They eventually calmed down.
  4. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    O.k....well then...I guess this is my enclosure. Let me hide from you guys for a week or so...I'm really stressed out. AND I still have no clue where my water is.:(
  5. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Bah, don't be stressed out. Its just some discussion. :)
  6. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    It would appear my post was edited, probably due to a complete and utter misunderstanding of context.

    I hope headcharge doesnt mind me sharing this PM, but I had thought my original meaning was obvious:

    You completely misunderstood my statement. I believe none of the things I said. Quite to the contrary. The following statement went something like"how can we ever hope to learn unless we challenge the current establishment?"

    All of those things were tightly held beliefs at some point until they were challenged. It's called dramatic effect. ;)

    I'm a little disappointed that this point was missed to the point of moderator action....... But back to the discussion at hand....
  7. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    I deleted it. It really wasn't pertinent to the subject and I though some people might find if offensive. I got it, but I wasn't sure if others would. You have to remember, this site is visited by not only adults but kids too.

    And, no one PMed me about it or reported it.
  8. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    I have yet to see this evidence. As I said, just because a snake will feed and this feeding coincides with this rule does not support anything. Where do you think we get the word coincidence?

    Your argument turns on itself.

    Let me repeat here, IF (once again, IF!) I can find some legitimate evidence that this theory of neglect does infact benefit the snake then I will adopt it whole heartedly

    However, we are talking about evironment acclimation and its direct impact upon a feeding response. We have one simple truth: Snakes will not eat when they are stressed out.

    We have a hypothesis: Snakes are stressed out for a week following a change in their immediate environment.

    This hypothesis entails a few things:
    1 That the movement of the viv, viv kept in its original orientation, from one place to another will cause the above effect (non eating).
    2 That the rearrangement of viv furniture, or purchase of new viv furniture MAY have the above effect.
    3 Any new or alien environment to the snake can and WILL result in the rejection and possible regurgitation of food.

    Here is where the argument turns on itself. A NEW snake has never seen its new home, the viv. This new snake has also never seen its feeding box/enclosure. According to the current dogma, we should allow the snake to acclimate for a week, and then allow him to feed in his feeding enclosure (since no responsible handler would feed in the viv unless under special circumstances).

    But according to the above reasoning this can never happen!
    Yet it does! Snakes do this all the time. You keep asking us to think from the snakes perspective. You spend a week in the "wild" all alone with nobody touching you, and you are supposed to be ok with this giant squishy pink thing that comes down to grab you? Thats ridiculous.
    You are this same snake who has acclimated just fine to his new home and now you are taken from the home and put into an entirely new, and slightly cramped area that has little traction and smells vaguely of new sneakers. Do you still have an appetite? Absolutely not.

    What I propose is that the 1 week rule has actually no effect on the snake at all. Of course you have had success with it. The Native Americans had success with their rain dances too, otherwise they wouldnt have passed it on. That doesn't mean that either is directly responsible for their end result.

    Once again, when coupled with the feeding box rule (which i believe is widely held on these boards) the snake has no way of knowing he will ever see his viv again once he is put into the feeding enclosure. No amount of acclimation will ever help here. How many of you do your first few feeding right on the substrate with your snakes? This is actually the only logical bridge between the two schools of thought. Allow the snake to acclimate to a new home, and you at the same time, THEN move him to another enclosure after a few weeks for feeding to adjust any aggression issues.

    I guess in a nutshell I feel like offering a snake some food in the eclosures he will be spending the rest of his life in is not really detrimental to the snake in the first week of ownership. If he doesnt take it, he may be stressed, the stress may or may not be related to the move. But then again he may take it. And unless you are one of the droves of clinically obese Americans the rest of the world gawks at, a little food never hurt anybody ;)
  9. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    Thats fine, I realize now that I could have been a little more clear. The repost was actually in charge's PM, im not reposting it just to be a jerk, I just wanted to make clear that I am not actually a sexist, racist, elitist motard :p

    I do fear, however, that many of you here aren't really thinking hard about WHY we are doing what we do for these animals. I haven't really seen any good information that points to this rule. I've heard a few people say that such information exists, but I have yet to see it.
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It really wasn't clear what you were trying to say.
    Actually when I first read the post in question it got my hackles up as well and it was VERY close to being deleted. It took a thorough reading before I realized where you were going with it. A casual reading of it could easily have been misconstrued.
    And obviously it was.

    The reasoning behind my recommendation of leaving the snake alone to settle in is this.

    The snake is stressed out from suddenly being plucked from its current housing, packaged and moved, being jostled around, to a new, totally unfamiliar location. I believe that this stress does not need to be compounded by also being exposed to handling and feeding. Let the animal get settled down and relaxed a bit before it is exposed to a new stressor.... US!
    One thing at a time!
    Animals can handle some stress up to a point. It's part of the nature of things. But let's not overload the system. If the stress is too much they will be adversely affected. There is no need to make it any worse than it has to be.
    I have personally seen snakes that refused to feed for weeks after such a move. Animals which were feeding regularly prior to the move and that came from sources I trust.

    As for feeding in a separate enclosure,...most snakes hunt. They travel to different locations to find prey but tend to return to their original hiding areas afterwards.

    And I personally do not start out feeding in a separate container.

    In fact my new arrivals are kept on plain newspaper for 6 months to enable me to monitor any waste or parasite problems so there is no danger in feeding them in the enclosure.
    I do what I do, and recommend what I do, based on my personal experience with numerous specimens as well as those of other keepers, breeders and zoos. I have found what works well and will continue to promote it.
  11. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    That is all well and good. I have actually attributed a refusal to eat to move stress as well. What I keep trying to say, however, is that it is too inconsistent to call it a hard fast rule. A snake leaving to hunt is very much different from one placed in a new area with food items. There may be a slight parallel, but its really not a relevant comparison.

    All I am really saying is that there is no harm done to the animal with a little gentle handling and offering of food within the first week. I typically give 1 or 2 days of no activity, and then I begin handling. If the snake is receptive then all is well. If he is snappy, or as soon as he begins trying to escape I put him back and we try again the next day or the one after, whenever I have some time.

    I just wish the 1 week rule was not the fallback answer immediately when someone has a feeding issue with a new snake. If I were to talk to a newbie about a problematic feeder, I would first address all environmental issues. Temps, proper hides, shedding schedule, time of year. If all those things fail then with a shrug i would say "maybe he's just a little excited after the move, try again in about a week." That is not to say "don't touch him for a week," because the research I have seen says a snake may continue to reject food if instantly offered, ie trying to offer a mouse every day. However continuing the handling for the next week and then offering some food typically works well for me.

    There just seems to be a big stigma here about handling a snake right off the bat. As long as the snake feels secure (is not trying to barrel roll away, or spasm slither... I don't know what to call it... but the last-ditch effort escape moves they do), looking around and behaving normally, handle it! Start developing that trust and bond. The sooner the better IMO! Just as you said, I have found what works well and will continue to promote it.

    I'm not asking anybody to change their practices. I wouldn't presume to tell you how to raise your kids. But a few people around here need to calm down a little bit. Not every "new snake not eating" thread needs to be met with a plethora of "OH THE HUMANITY!!! THINK OF THE SNAKES!!!!!!!" We all just need to realize that there are always going to be different methods that work just as well as any other.
  12. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    I think here we like to err on the side of caution. Many people coming here are total newbies to snakes. It's easier to say "just leave him alone for a week" than having someone totally unfamiliar with snakes try to figure out its temperament. How are you supposed to know how a snake acts when you have never owned one before? Plus, its the internet. We have no idea about a new person signing on, how much experience they have.

    Also we like to say: Just because you have a pet that is still alive, doesn't mean you know how to take care of it properly.

    And raising kids is MUCH different than raising snakes. If only we could stick them in a 40 gallon breeder at 82 degrees....
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I agree that environmental issues should also be addressed and we do.
    Indeed. I have been doing the forum bit for many years and the majority of the time the feeding issues are coming from new owners who would have absolutely no idea how to read the personality or body language of a snake, much less interpret its meaning! And often when questioned it comes down to,... "I got the snake, took it home and played with it for several hours, passed it around to my friends, and then repeatedly tried to get it to eat day after day after day!" No wonder the animal is stressed!
    You repeatedly say that you are not trying to get anyone to change the way that anyone does things and then argue that we should not tell people to leave the snake alone for a week as that is a waste of time. You can't have it both ways!
    I'm sorry that you don't care for or agree with the advice that we are offering and that is your right.
    However that is not going to change the advice that we offer.
  14. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The snake did not die from the advice of leaving him be for a week. When someone is told to leave a snake alone for a week, that doesn't include watering and daily maintenance, as well as monitoring. That is directed toward the handling of the snake itself.

    If he was found on the floor 5 weeks later, I am assuming he escaped from his enclosure. If he didn't escape from his enclosure, and you are referring to the enclosure floor, I can 100% assure you that the 1 week of not handling him did not lead to his dehydration death 4 weeks later. If you were offering him water for that 5 week period, and he were drinking it, it wouldn't have become dehydrated. Saying the 1 week adjustment period didn't do him any good because he died 4 weeks after that duration from dehydration has no real basis. (Unless I managed to miss something completely.)

    My outlook and interpretation of the one week grace period is a combination of everyones views.

    When I get a new snake, I always offer it a prey item when I offer my other snakes their prey items. I typically start with the new snake actually, so I don't waste any feeder items if he rejects it. If it eats, great. If it doesn't, I just offer that prey item to the next snake. I don't handle the snake though for the first 3-5 days that I have it, regardless. I give the snake time to adjust to the scents, tastes, and vibrations output by my home and kids/other pets. That 3-5 day grace period will have NO impact on the snakes socialization once I do begin handling it. I also feed in the enclosure with new arrivals for the first few feedings. Around the 3rd or 4th feeding, they are then sent to the feeding container.

    As previously stated, the vast majority of those that post about a snake not eating are those new to keeping snakes. Those with experience don't typically post feeding questions unless the snake hasn't eaten for several weeks/months.

    In almost all instances of the snake not eating, they have had the snake for less than 2-3 days and they have been handling it constantly, or allowing their kids to handle it, during that time frame. Even when told to give the snake a few days of no handling, to acclimate, their setup is typically discussed as well.

    The grace period doesn't harm the snake, does allow them to acclimate faster, and resolves most issues new owners have had with a new, non-feeding snake. That, in and of itself, would lead most to believe that the grace period DOES have some impact on the feeding behavior itself.

    Now don't think its just because of stress though. The grace period covers all sorts of things. It allows a snake to digest a meal it may have recently eaten, that the new owner was unaware of. It allows the snake to properly thermoregulate its body temperature (pending your temps are adequate and the previous temps were not). I think the "stress" became the simple response when asked "why" they should wait anywhere from 4-7 days before attempting a feeding. Stress IS involved with non-feeding snakes though, lol.

    Stress CAN prevent an animal from eating. That is something anyone who wishes to can discuss with their vets. Stress within reptiles can actually lead to death. As your vet will tell you, changing the habitat or moving the animal CAN lead to stress and cause an animal to not eat. It won't happen to every animal, and may actually be a small percentage when viewed as a whole. It doesn't eliminate that FACT though.

    It is very dependant on the snake, how fast it acclimates, and how much better your environment is compared to where it just came from. If you are offering a more adequate heat gradient, ample hide locations, adequate humidity, and more space, the snake is likely to acclimate much faster than someone who provides a lower quality housing solution.

    I 100% agree with a snake being given the grace period when first acquired, though I have my own reasons. I don't believe its just stress that I am watching out for. I use it as an actual adjustment period for both the snake and myself.
  15. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    I apologize and I edited the post to read like it actually happened. After a feeding trial on the seventh day and a different try at a live meal on the eighth day...on the morning of the 9th day I discovered him missing. I had figured it was because I had let him sit in absolute peace for the seven days and then found him on the seventh...surprise...and he tried to find a safe corner to hide. It just so happened that my determined herp found a place on the outside of his enclosure. So now, I acclimate my snakes to the fact that I will be around and I will not hurt them. They are safe. No need to hide.

    But if you all prefer...I can remove the post...It was a bit of a flame.
  16. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It doesn't need to be removed. I didn't find it offensive when I read it as an unbiased user. I just needed to make sense of that part. ;)

    Just so you know, just about ALL snakes will escape from their enclosure when the oppurtunity presents itself. This goes for those in wonderful enclosures as well as those in improper enclosures. If the snake locates a means of escape, it will use it. It won't tell itself "I trust my owner, so I will stay here". In fact, it won't even think of you. It is going to leave the enclosure if it can and avoid recapture if it can, regardless if it sees you as a threat or not.

    If anyone believes I am wrong, I have a simple test that can 100% prove this. If you have snakes that you believe trust you will do them no harm, and that they are "happy" in their enclosures, then remove the covers from those enclosures for 24 hours and report back how many snakes stayed, and how many snakes disappeared. After 24 hours, I would be amazed if any snakes (who could actually climb out the enclosure) were actually still in it. ;)
  17. leslielenee

    leslielenee Elite Member

    No thank you. I too believe that closed is better and safer for all involved...GN
  18. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    I actually was emboldening stuff i wanted to discuss, but the underlined paragraph is about perfect. I have been saying since the first page here that the grace period works, but, for stress alone, the reasoning for WHY it works just doesn't add up. Neither intuitively nor psychologically. There are other much more important factors here than just stress levels, and as such, the grace period technique can most certainly be tweaked by someone accustomed to handling snakes* to better suit the wishes of the owner without a communal HC uproar.

    *Thought i would try out footnotes :) I said accustomed to handling snakes for a couple reasons. First of all, it takes a learned hand. Lets face it, for the first couple months everybody is nervous handling their first snake. It takes awhile before you get the feel down. If you don't believe me give your snake to a friend who is inexperienced. Activity levels will spike/the snake won't be as calm. Heck, I can handle my corn for up to an hour without him getting too excited. But as soon as my roommate takes him it's everything he can do to keep the snake from slithering out of his hands. This is a good enough reason I suppose to tell novice handlers to leave the snake alone.

    That being said (these are long footnotes......) I do wish other avenues would be explored, or at least discussed with such owners. If we can admit that stress has simply become the simpler fallback answer, then I think its more important to disband the myth before it gets out of hand. I have tutored organic, analytical, and physical chemistry during my time in college. If any of you have taken the classes, there are most certainly tricks and fallback techniques i could teach you to pass the course. However, it was always much more important to me to teach WHY we do what we do, not just WHAT to do. And let me tell ya, "it's complicated" doesn't fly well with someone paying you 10 dollars and hour for tutoring.
  19. untsmurf

    untsmurf Elite Member

    Hokay! This has become quite a heated debate since I visited last. I've read through all four pages (thanks to everyone for the lengthy posts :lol: ) and this is what I have to contribute:

    I can see both sides of the argument, but I tend to side with caution and the one week rule. I do believe that herps in general need a waiting period to get accustomed to their new homes. Whether this period is one day or one week depends on the species and the temperament of the animal. I also believe that there is a way to feed in the enclosure that will not teach hand=food, but that's for another debate.

    As for the one week rule, I agree that the vast majority of people coming here and saying, "I just got my snake and it won't eat!" are not experienced herpers (not with snakes and probably not with any other herp). Any experienced herper would know the arguments and the solutions to his/her problem. Junior herpers (not completely experienced) will ask for help after it's been about a month, and experienced herpers generally wait until around two months to ask for feeding help. My reasoning behind these estimates is because an experienced herper doesn't need to ask for help because he knows what most people will offer as advice. So he will wait until he's exhausted all his methods, then ask for help when all else fails.

    Keeping this in mind, most of the people asking for help here are new and don't know how to read their animal. There are several reasons behind the one week rule, which I believe Rich posted quite nicely, and yes it's easier to generalize to a noob that you wait because of stress. But in actuality, not every experienced herper waits exactly one week before touching their snake. They maintain the tank as the herp settles in, they give the snake 2-4 days to rest and become acclimated to its surroundings and then begins to socialize with it. This tends to be more of a trial and error period of time, because it truly does depend on the temperament that you are dealing with. Obviously, more aggressive snakes will require a lot more work, and shyer snakes will be much less willing to be handled. Then, after about a weeks time (4-8 days usually) the snake will be in a good enough temperament to eat and the experienced herper can recognize this.

    But it would be irresponsible on the part of the experienced herper to tell a noob to let the snake be for 2-4 days, then start experimenting to see if it's calmed down. This could result in more undue stress for the snake and possibly an injury for either the snake or the keeper. The safest period of time to let all the factors play out (stress, digestion, shedding, etc.) is about a week.

    And lets face it, it's easier to tell a noob owner to wait a week and try again, then it is to run through the plethora of trial and error as we sit here walking him through every step holding his hand to make sure nothing bad happens. And generally, after a week the snake will eat because it's hungry and the one week waiting period will have provided the noob with time to have learned more about his charge because while we do offer the "wait a week" rule quite often, we also suggest doing further research on the animal.

    We as a society tend to do things as quickly as possible. We live in the times of instant gratification. This applies both to the person asking the question and the people answering it. The asker wants a solution, they generally don't want to have to sift through four pages of debate to find it (I loved the debate and found it educational and stimulating, but I don't know if I can say the same for the person who asked the question) and getting the answer of wait a week is easy and it allows the owner to calm down and breathe instead of assuming their new animal is damaged. The rest of us surely don't want to spend endless amounts of time listing every single possible thing that could be wrong with the animal (medically, environmentally, emotionally, etc.) especially since the asker probably won't be able to provide the information we need to accurately diagnose the problem. It's the same reason why any legitimate vet won't diagnose an animal over the phone, it would take enormous amounts of time to run through everything and half the questions will either be answered incorrectly or with a stream of um's, I'm not sure's, and I don't know's. In general, the problem will resolve itself within the week of rest. If it doesn't and the animal is sick or the environment is wrong, we can fix that during or after the waiting period. If the animal is so sick that it dies in the one week, then there wasn't anything we could've done about it anyways, because it probably would taken us longer to diagnose the problem. So yes, we do offer the "one week" quick fix, but this quick fix is a tried and true method that has been tested for years and years by every stage of herper. And that's why if you were to traipse into any herp forum and ask this question, 99% of the time, you'd get the "quick fix" response.

    I understand that you were mainly asking for proof that the rule works, or proof of what happens when you don't follow it and I'm sure that there has been studies done regarding this matter. I've been researching herps in general since I was a child but as I've only actually had three years of herp ownership experience, I can't show you where to find this information.
  20. SpecterGT260

    SpecterGT260 Elite Member

    So once again I maintain, why is this information not immediately available for the benefit of all?
    I am somewhat new to herp forums (I think i have been on or something like that awhile back) but I've been on car forums since about the time when Al Gore gave birth to the internet. We run into a common problem on those sites:
    A newbie asks a question and gets a hipshot answer. Said hipshot answer works for newbie, and newbie throws all of his or her weight behind it, sometimes formulating his or her own theories as to why it works and spreading this information to other newbies who come around.

    The problem is that now, information that is definitly workable, although not entirely accurate, moves from novice advice to gospel. This is why I believe it is so much more important to say "here is the how and why, and now here is what i think you should do".
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