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Skeletal Issues in My Rainbow Boa? :( :( :(

Discussion in 'Rainbow Boas' started by giveuptheghost, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    So over the last few weeks, Mercutio's tail has been increasingly odd. It's kinked and contorted and I thought maybe he got it smashed under something, though I couldn't figure out what in the habitat could've done it. I talked to the guy at my local reptile shop and he asked me to bring him in, since it sounded quite strange. When I did, he said he was pretty sure it wasn't a break, but that he appeared to have multiple skeletal abnormalities. :( His tail looks worst, but he's got a crooked spine and some odd ribs, I guess. I didn't notice them-- I didn't examine his spine particularly closely since he moves around so much, and even if I did, I don't think I'd have known anything was wrong. He's my first snake and, honestly, it didn't occur to me to check for that sort of thing. The tail has only gotten bad the last couple weeks, and he seems sensitive to it (hence my thinking it was an injury).

    I haven't gotten him to a vet yet, but I'll be doing that in the next few days probably. I emailed the breeder and asked him about it. Haven't heard back yet, but I just send the message a couple hours ago. I'm not sure what to do though.

    I mean, from what I've found online it sounds like he might have Osteitis Deformans. I'm worried that if it gets worse, he won't be able to pass his food. So far he's been eating and pooping just fine, but I've only had him for two and a half months and if his tail has contorted that much in that short a time... I can't see how it would just stop. These sorts of things normally don't go that way.

    I know I shouldn't make any assumptions until I've talked to the vet, but does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?

    I don't want to send him back to the breeder really. I like him. He's friendly and easy to handle and a good eater... but if he's in pain or is only going to get worse...I don't really have many options.

    I attached a couple pictures of his tail.


    I can't express how upset I am right now.
  2. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    By not having many options, I mean that I'll have to put him down if it gets bad enough to disrupt his digestion.
  3. BarelyBreathing

    BarelyBreathing Elite Member

    That looks very odd. I'm interested to hear what the vet has to say.
  4. mele

    mele Elite Member

    I hope everything turn out alright with him. Keep us posted.
  5. Kernel

    Kernel Elite Member

    I'm not a vet, but my guess would be that either the beak is healing in deformed looking way or the tail is slowly dying, but as I said I'm not a vet, so I could be totally off.
  6. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    I would think this too, except that doesn't explain the crooked spots further up the spine.

    I think the tail is dying though. I sniffed it today and it smells like a milder version of the way a dead hermit crab smells. I made a vet appointment for Friday morning.

    I don't know which will be worse-- being told it is a skeletal deformity, or that the tail broke and died. I mean, I guess the second is the better because maybe it will be fixable, but it also makes me feel incredibly guilty for not noticing sooner. And I still can't figure out what he could possibly have hurt it on.
  7. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    I hope Mercutio is ok, keep us posted on what the vet says! Saying a prayer for your little one
  8. Kernel

    Kernel Elite Member

    That's scary, if he pulls through, the same thing could happen to him again.
  9. T42D1T4L14N

    T42D1T4L14N Elite Member

    Wow, I hope everything turns out good for Mercutio. My prayers are with the both of you. :( Things like this always make me sad.
  10. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    That really looks odd. I'm also very interested in what the vet says.
    My rainbow boa had a few deformed/missing ribs, which made an odd bump in her body but otherwise didn't seem to bother her. When she died and we had a necropsy done, I was able to see that she was missing some ribs and that some were fused together.

    I think yours has something else going on, especially since it seems to be progressing. Keep us posted. (Have you heard anything back from the breeder?)
  11. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    So the vet thinks it's something called White Muscle Disease as a result from a vitamin deficiency (not particularly common in snakes), which could be a result of feeding rat pinkes that didn't get a chance to nurse enough to get any real nutrients. It's hard to say though. We're running him on 2 weeks of antibiotics to rule out a bacterial infection and I'm supposed to pump his hoppers (I'll be switching back to mouse hoppers for awhile) with some a/d canned dog/food to help make sure he's getting ample nutrients from them. She pointed out that if this is the case, since his tail is still soft (as opposed to brittle), it will potentially be able to resolve completely.

    She said they can't be 100% sure that it isn't a genetic issue, but we'll be monitoring his progress. He's quite active and has been feeding regularly, which is obviously a good sign though.

    I'm relieved by this news, though I know I should wait and see if it proves to be the right diagnosis, but I am relieved all the same.

    The breeder emailed me back and told me that he will work with me on the issue and that he stands by his babies. He just got out of surgery himself though and so needed a couple days before he could really go examine his collection and see if there are any issues. He seems like a legitimate breeder and they've been around for awhile, so I don't think he'd screw me over if it ended up being a genetic thing.
  12. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    I glad that you got your boa in to the vet, praying that this will work and reverse the problem! Poor little guy!
  13. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    Wow, interesting diagnosis. I hope she's right and that the treatment helps.
    It's good that the breeder is also interested and willing to work with you on the issue.
    Keep us posted. Little Mercutio will be in my prayers.
  14. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    Update: Well, not much to say really. His tail seems the same. It doesn't seem to be getting worse though, so that's good. The vet said it would take awhile to show any improvement.

    But, one thing that's been making me nervous-- he seems to twitch a lot now. The best way I can describe it is that it looks like he's having a full-body hiccup. And they seem to be a constant thing. Anyone familiar with this?

    He's still quite active, lots of tongue flicking, and he's been eating well. (He'll be fed again tonight). How many meals do they typically go before pooping usually? I feel like he hasn't pooped in awhile. At least 3 meals without poo. I was worried that his tail would prevent him being able to go, but the vet said it shouldn't be an issue. All the kinking happens after the vent. I soaked him for about a half hour yesterday, nothing.

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