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No Rules or Recommendations

Discussion in 'Colubrids *General*' started by Reptilius, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Reptilius

    Reptilius Active Member

    I would like to raise a bit of a contentious issue, and it is that we sometimes overthink our Reptiles and apply too many Rules, Procedures and Protocols. A simple one is "FEEDING AND PREY ITEM SIZE". We say that the prey item should not be bigger than the thickest part of the snake for example. Snakes really do not worry about size, if they can eat it they will, regardless of size.

    A case in point, I caught a Female African House Snake, about 90cm in length, Heavily Gravid. She had eaten what could only have been a Jumbo rat, as I saw other Jumbo rats in the shed where I caught her. It took her 3 weeks to digest the Rat, she had a prelay shed 2 weeks later, and laid 12 perfect eggs 2 weeks after that.

    She ignored every single Rule, Protocol, Procedure or Precaution we as humans tend to put in place, and yet everything turned out perfect. The point I am trying to make, lets not overthink and complicate matters when caring for our snakes.

    A pic of the Female, I related to in this article.


    Attached Files:

  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I think perhaps we err on the side of caution as no one wants to make a trip to the vet.
    Whereas they can consume significantly larger prey, it likely has a negative effect on their bodies opposed to feeding prey that is of adequate size.
    Karma Momma likes this.
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The rules and procedures are in place because they have been found, over generations of snake keeping, to be what works.
    Our captives are not in the wild and there are a lot of things in the wild that we try to avoid. We can take cues from wild living but then we adjust it for captivity.
    For instance on the subject of meal size. Yes they may eat something larger than the recommended size. But in the wild it may be weeks or even months before they eat again. So they take what they can when they can. They don't have someone routinely delivering dinner to them on a regular basis. Feeding too large a meal in captivity frequently results in a regurgitation of the prey item. Not a pleasant experience for either party!
    Plus a overly large meal too often results in a obese snake.
    Karma Momma likes this.
  4. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The rule is actually to not exceed 1.5 times the thickest part of the snake. The idea is to see a lump after they have eaten. If you didn't exceed the thickest part you would never know they ate anything. Lets say I toss in a prey item that is 3 times larger than the snake should be fed and the snake is hungry and attempts to eat it. Either the snake will succeed and will be good to go for a few weeks, unless it regurgitates the prey after the fact, or it may find halfway through its attempt that it will not succeed and regurgitates what it ate. What have we accomplished? We didn't accomplish anything because we fed a prey item that was simple too large ignoring the "rule" (which is more of a guideline) and now need to feed a smaller prey item in a few days, which we could have done to begin with. Your post is completely counterproductive to teaching new people how to care for their "captive" snake. I don't know about your snakes but mine are offered prey every 7-10 days. That isn't how it works in the wild. Snakes are opportunistic feeders. If snake owners follow the guideline they will have a much higher success rate with their feedings. These guidelines are in place because these snakes are captive and years of successful feedings show it works. I suggest everyone DO think about what they are feeding and do it right instead of wasting their time feeding prey that is too large to see if the snake can eat it.
    Karma Momma likes this.
  5. Reptilius

    Reptilius Active Member

    Actually Rich, my snakes get fed every 14 days, the adults that is. The point I was trying to make is that in the wild, the gloves are off when it comes to food. Wild snakes will take on what we categorise as impossibly large prey items. I also did not realise that I would be teaching people wrong, my apologies. The post and pic were to illustrate what happens in uncontrolled environments.
  6. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    While your intent may have been to demonstrate the erratic state that is nature, what you said is that care is "overcomplicated" because we are not yielding to a natural standard. That's true... because there is no standard of nature. Point of fact, there are many natural behaviors that are quashed in captivity for the sake of both the animal and keeper, and as the keeper, we know this and make the conscious decision to act in a way that best supports the animal in captivity. An animal in the wild may only eat once or twice a month, but in captivity, we, the keepers, find it much more beneficial to keep the animal on some sort of schedule, and generally feed when the animal is hungry (if this means every day, or every 3 days, we determine that by eagerness to eat, then maintain that schedule as long as the animal does not become obese). In the wild, an animal may be starving the majority of the time, but we, as keepers, do not wish to make that a permanent state.

    For example: many reptiles are opportunistic feeders in the wild, however, we limit their diet because we have the research to demonstrate that, for example, an earthworm has a better calcium to phosphorous ratio than, say, a beetle. Would the reptile be more likely to get the beetle in nature? Probably. But we feed it the earthworm for the sake of the animal. In limiting its UVB exposure, we must offer it more nutritious food, regardless of its natural feeding tendencies.

    I believe this thread was misguided, and, much like Rich said, it may give the wrong impression to new keepers. Do keep in mind that this forum constantly has new members, many of whom are first-time owners, and as such, it is prudent to avoid suggesting poor husbandry, even incidentally.
  7. Reptilius

    Reptilius Active Member

    Point Noted. I now consider this thread closed.

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