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New Purchase Dilemma, Need Advice

Discussion in 'Common/Red Tail Boa' started by bleachii, May 10, 2008.

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  1. bleachii

    bleachii Active Member

    First of all let me say hello and thanks for any advice you care to give. Any and all comments are welcome. I found an ad on CL for a Red Tail (supposed to be a Northern Brazilian species (probably a male). The asking price is $20 for the snake and a 50 gal ter. with all lights, heat, etc.

    I have spoken with the owner 2 times and the snake is a pet but they haven't had time to spend with it since they moved to CA about 8 months ago. I believe it is 2-3 years old and a little over 3 ft. Basically they are looking to provide it a better home but he is candid in the fact that the snake does snap at him now when being removed from the cage. Once out, the snake is very tame and can be handled. This started after coming to CA and spending less time with it. The snake is fed using frozen rats in a separate enclosure.

    He turned down a few email offers based on the tone of the emails so he is not looking to just unload the snake...he wants to find it a good home. He is looking at me first but there is a breeder also interested and they will go that route if necessary.

    I have owned snakes in the past (when I was in college about 15 years ago) and am familiar with the care of exotics ( I have 2 parrots and my daughters tarantula). I want to provide a good home for this snake but I really am concerned about it's size as it gets older. I am also concerned about keeping frozen rodents....the wife will not be happy.

    I want to do the right thing....want to help out the snake but don't want to get in over my head. Obviously price has nothing to do with it as he is basically giving it away but only to a good home. When we spoke he was very much interviewing me. I am going to his place this evening to check it out. I could really use some advice here...I'm on the fence. Maybe the breeder option is really the best at this point.

    If anyone lives in this area and is interested I am willing to give you the information as well. I just hate to see another exotic animal find it's way into a less than ideal situation.

    Thanks a bunch for your candid comments.

    Take Care,
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Hello and welcome to HC. You may want to go the breeder route as you have displayed a decent amount of concern over the situation that will arise if you bring it home. If the snake is currently nipping, you are going to want to handle it daily to help ease it out of that behavior if you decide to take it in. You are not going to want a snake that is as large and strong as a constrictor being prone to biting.

    If your wife will have issues with you feeding it frozen rats, and keeping them in the freezer, you could always buy them on an as needed basis from a store like Petco or Petsmart. At some point however, rats simply don't seem practical anymore as the snake begins to eat more and more of them to get "satisfied". If you have a problem with rats, what would she think when you need/should go to something larger? (Like rabbits.) Here is my boa eating a rabbit:

    As the snake grows, it is also going to require a fairly large enclosure. A 55 gallon tank is not going to be permanent housing for this snake.

    Thats my input. Hope it helps.
  3. Ipanda

    Ipanda Elite Member

    I totally second Rich's post. He makes a good point. I have a burmese python that eats bunnies, and its not a fun or pretty thing... At all.... With your wife not liking rats in the freezer, you could always get a small freezer just for rats... Though the best advice about aquiring new animals: If at any moment you might, just for a second, think your getting over your head, you usually are.
  4. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    You have to decide if you are doing the snake a service if you actually do "get in over your head" and have to find another home for it if it gets too big for you or if it causes too much trouble with your wife.
    My sister's boa used to snap at anything coming into the tank, but was fine outside. You can drop a handtowel over its head first then pick him up. Once he realizes that he's just being taken out and not being fed or attacked, he'll probably be OK.
    It's great that you are thinking of all the aspects of the acquisition: how it will affect the family, future size and feeding issues. If you decide to get it, you might want to find a separate freezer to keep the food in. (Our freezer now has more rats in it than people food and although I don't have issues with that: it is a bit of a pain when I can't put MY food in there!)
    Let us know what you decide!
  5. kcftlaud08

    kcftlaud08 Elite Member

    You sound hesitant, which should be an instinct respected. But as far as feeding, I buy frozen rats on an as needed basis. It's not convenient but my boyfriend doesn't like co-mingling the people food with the rats. I have been known to hide one in the back of the freezer but I'm the Mom, so I'm the only one who actually moves stuff when I'm looking for something.
  6. bleachii

    bleachii Active Member

    Thank you Rich, Ipanda and Blackjack. Probably should have stuck around for your replies before heading over to see the snake :) Once I was there it was pretty difficult to say no. Especially since the entire setup and snake was free. I completely respect all of your opinions and agree with them. The lure of the situation was just too strong.

    We brought him (not 100% sure if male) home yesterday evening. We needed to take him out last night to arrange his cage and it was no problem. Used the towel method by letting him sense the towel for a few minutes and nice and easy laid the towel over his head and picked him up by his body. I never felt threatened and didn't look like he felt threatened at all.

    We have also had him out this morning...same procedure and same result. He appears to be very mellow and inquisitive. At no time since we have been handling him has ever had a look of aggressiveness. My guess is that the times he snapped (3 times mentioned by prior owner) he was probably hungry.

    At this point I am trying to dial in the temps and humidity in his new home and figure out where to go from here. He ate just a few days ago so he is good for a bit. I may try and feed him next weekend depending on his behavior this week. So far he isn't acting in any peculiar fashion.

    One issue I see is that his last shed did not go well. There is still quite a bit of skin that needs to still come off. Not sure if I should try and aid the process or if I would only be adding to any current stress he feels from the move. Owner said this is the first time it has happened.

    Wife is out of town but after the initial shock I don't expect a problem. The snake (Sampson is his name) is in my office separate from the house and we have lots of pet stores local so I really don't need to store rats in the freezer. I'll cross the bridge of rabbits if I ever get that far :) The carnage and feeding process doesn't really bother me when the prey is already dead. Feeding a live rabbit would be a problem for me but luckily that shouldn't be an issue.

    My 7 year old daughter absolutely loves him and any talk of finding a longer term more permanent home is met with a frown. Under my supervision she has been holding Sampson and already feels a connection with him. We have talked about why he would snap, not reaching into his cage, slow movements, etc. Since she has no problem holding her tarantula and the cockroaches it doesn't surprise me she has no problem handling this very mild snake.

    Right now he will get very good care from me...and possibly for the foreseeable future. I guess my thought is that he can always go to a breeder but since he has been a pet it would be nice to keep him that way. Especially since he has only showed mildly bad behavior which I believe will be easily remedied with more interaction.

    If anyone here lives in the area and is looking to add a pet to their family and is committed long term to it's care I am willing to pass this snake along to that person. At this point I would only give him up to a knowledgeable person willing to keep him as a pet. I would pass on the same offer I received which is free to a good home.

    In the mean time we are adopting him and intend to provide the best care possible while with us. I know this may sound callous in some why take him on in the first place...but his next stop was a breeder anyways so going to me and remaining as a pet doesn't seem the worst thing that could happen to him.

    It's also possible that we get attached to him and he is here for the long term. I guess the current situation is that we intend to keep him until we can find a great situation for him. My guess is that hanging out on reptile forums will only aid in our ability to care for him and keep him in a good long term situation.

    Thanks again,
  7. kcftlaud08

    kcftlaud08 Elite Member

    It sounds like he's in a great environment now! You will fall in love and wife will come on board, especially if your daughter is already. Congrats on the addition to your family. I suspect he's home. I leave the shedding issue to the experts.
  8. Ipanda

    Ipanda Elite Member

    Hey congrats on your new guy! Personally the only time I handle a new snake for first couple of weeks its in my home is if it has cuts scrapes mites ect that need to be treated, bad sheds arnt usually something I worry about right away. Sounds like your towel trick is working, And it sounds like Sampson has found a very good home. If you have any questions, dont be afraid to post! There are alot of experienced snake owners here with some really good advice!
  9. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I too recommend leaving the snake alone for a week to settle into the new surroundings. It is going to be stressed out from the move and needs time to unwind. After that week then you can feed and again leave alone for 48 hours to digest. As for the unshed skin, the simplest thing is what we call the pillowcase trick. Take a large wet bath towel and wet it down. Put both towel and snake in a wet pillowcase and knot it and leave it over night in the enclosure(not directly on or under the heater). The excess moisture and the snake moving around in the towel will remove the extra skin.
  11. bleachii

    bleachii Active Member

    Thanks for all the comments. The care sheet was useful. I have not handled him since this morning and given the multiple recommendations to leave him be....I won't handle him again until next weekend or so. Anyone see any issues with trying to feed him next weekend? Also, after he eats in his eating container how do I get him back to his enclosure? How long do you wait after he has finished his meal? Any risk of irritating him by moving him after his meal?

    I'm sure these questions have been answered and I'll continue to do some research but if you get a chance to answer them it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks again,
  12. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    With my boa, after i feed her in the locking rubbermaid container i use i give her a bit of time to settle down, then move her back by hand, carefully, to not stress her out.
    I have made a viewing area in the container i feed her in, and can check on her without disturbing her. I usualy give her as much time as it takes to settle down from feeding mode before moving her.
    The limited time it takes to pick the boa up out of its feeding container, and place it in its cage, should not be enough to cause it to regurgitate so long as it has fully consumed its meal.
    My boa has not regurged from the limited contact involved,
    Nor has it happened with any of the boas or ball pythons i feed at work.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I feed all of my snakes and as soon as they have completely swallowed they are gently placed back in the enclosure. The act of simply picking them up and replacing them in their homes is not enough to cause a regurge.
    Its excessive handling after the feed that is the danger.
  14. millerpj

    millerpj Elite Member

    I have found that if I leave Mustache in her feeding enclosure for about 1/2 hour after she eats, I can turn the tub on its side and let her crawl out. She is perfectly willing for me to pick her up put her back in her enclosure. She is not happy with me if I stick my hand down in her tub.
  15. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    You can try feeding him next weekend, but don't be too surprised if he doesn't eat. It's probably the stress of the move. Just wait till the following weekend and try again.

    As soon as the snake has completely finished swallowing and has worked the rat down to the middle, you can put him back. Some stay in "feeding mode" for a while after swallowing, so either leave him in the feeding box for a half hour or so, or use the towel over the head trick to gently lift him out and back into his enclosure.
    After that, do not handle him again for 3 days or so. Just make sure his temperatures are right and that he has plenty of clean fresh water. My snakes drink more in the day or two after eating. But fresh clean water should be available all the time.
  16. bleachii

    bleachii Active Member

    FLASH NEWS UPDATE--------------------- arrived home and I broke the news that we were now the caretakers for a juvenile boa constrictor. This particular boa was a rescue in that we were preventing the snake from the life of a breeder. Not completely terrible but certainly not the life of a pet. Also told her how 7 year old daughter got teary eyed when I told her we might need to find another home for 'Sampson'. She said "Well, then we should keep it." That my friends is a cool wife. Any wife that allows reptiles, hairy tarantulas and a colony of feeder blaberus for said hairy overgrown spider is a for-sure keeper!

    I haven't broken the part about the frozen bunnies arriving in the mail to be thawed in the driveway to be used as food for our 8 foot long pet snake. But that's just how it day it's feeder cockroaches and the next frozen bunnies in the mail.

    Sometimes it strikes me as a peculiar hobby when you think about it.
  17. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Thats for sure! At least her arrival home was not heralded with a scream of "GET IT OUT OF HERE!!"
    But it sounds like the boa has a home!

    You think?;)
  18. venus

    venus Founding Member

    Congrats, keep us posted on the bunnies :D
  19. bleachii

    bleachii Active Member

    Luckily the whole bunny thing is a few years away!

    So every morning/evening I have been talking to Sampson and I make the same clicking sound with my mouth. The idea is that I want him to recognize me when I come to his cage. Most times when I do this it will get a small rise out of his head and some tongue flicks to see what's going on.

    Tonight he was out and about as it was dark when I arrived. He slowly worked his head up to the screen top just inches away from my face (screen between us). I wasn't really worried he was going to try and strike since his neck was fully extended....and you could tell he was just being inquisitive.

    Anyhow....very cool experience. He seems to be acclimating very well to his new home and I'm just beginning to see some behavioral traits. I know I was on the fence about him but so far I'm thinking I made the right decision. I'm not exactly sure what a stressed snake looks like but this guy doesn't appear to be stressed. And so far his demeanor has been nothing but sweet and inquisitive.

    I look forward to a bit more time passing so I can take him out and begin getting him used to regular handling.
  20. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    An extended neck is not a strike pose. A drawed back "S" is.
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