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Health Issues/Feeding Problems Anything related to general or specific health problems. Issues having to do with feeding problems or tips.

Snake digesting mice poorly
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:07 PM   #1
lvsilberman
Snake digesting mice poorly

I have a snake who will be 20 in August (I bought him when he was 3 months old). In all this time he's been healthy with no problems. He unfortunately eats live mice because 20 years ago I couldn't buy frozen mice and when they did become available I couldn't get him to switch over but I've never had issues with his feeding before. Six days ago I fed him his standard 2 live mice which he killed and ate with no problem. Two days ago he either passed them through partially digested or regurgitated them, I can't tell which. The smell was horendous and what was left of the mice was gelatinous and disgusting. Now he's acting hungry again and when I put my arm in the cage to clean out the mess, he tried to bite me (fortunately I was anticipating it by his movements and was wearing thick sleeves). The only vet in the area charges $90 just for a basic exam so I don't want to take him just to hear that he's old or something. If anyone has any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.
 
Old 07-01-2011, 12:23 AM   #2
VickyChaiTea
Definitely sounds like a regurgitation, could have been something on/in the live mice or an environmental factor. What are the temps on the warm and cool side? Did you handle after feeding? Is he housed with another snake? What is the humidity? Did you recently get any other reptiles that may have transferred illness to your snake? Does he have hides?
 
Old 07-01-2011, 02:11 AM   #3
bitsy
First thing I'd check are the temps on the floor at the warm or cool side, with a digital thermometer (not a plastic dial or carboard strip type). Too hot or cold could have this effect and it'd be the simplest and cheapest aspect to put right.

Just for once, I have my fingers crossed that you find something wrong!
 
Old 07-01-2011, 05:29 AM   #4
Nanci
Well, I'd treat him with the standard regurgitation protocol- no food for 10 days, obtain Nutribac and use that on all future meals (since this is an elderly snake, I would just continue with it indefinitely) and I'd feed a smaller mouse, maybe a hopper for a couple meals, then a weanling for a couple, then back to a single adult.

I don't think I'd feed him two mice at one time again, ever. What interval are you feeding him at? I would feed one medium adult mouse every 10-21 days, depending on the size of the snake. You don't want him gaining weight, but since he's older, you don't want him dropping off weight either.

Has he gone blue or shed recently?
 
Old 07-01-2011, 01:36 PM   #5
lvsilberman
I don't track humidity levels but I can gauge it based on his sheds and he always sheds cleanly (he shed a week before I fed him). It's summer right now and his cage is about 25 degrees celcius most of the time. I only turn his heating rock on in the winter. He wasn't handled after feeding and he's the only reptile in the house. He has plenty of hides (dried corn substrate, log, rocks, etc) and nothing has changed in his environment for the last 7 years at least (other than regular cleaning).

I've always fed him two mice every 3 weeks or so and it's been serving him well this far. That's why I was wondering if maybe this is a sign of old age? I can't find anything online that describes symptoms of old age in snakes so I don't know what to look for. Am I just going to find him passed away one day or will there be signs to prepare me?
 
Old 07-02-2011, 06:51 AM   #6
Susan
Quote:
Originally Posted by lvsilberman View Post
I don't track humidity levels but I can gauge it based on his sheds and he always sheds cleanly (he shed a week before I fed him). It's summer right now and his cage is about 25 degrees celcius most of the time. I only turn his heating rock on in the winter. He wasn't handled after feeding and he's the only reptile in the house. He has plenty of hides (dried corn substrate, log, rocks, etc) and nothing has changed in his environment for the last 7 years at least (other than regular cleaning).

I've always fed him two mice every 3 weeks or so and it's been serving him well this far. That's why I was wondering if maybe this is a sign of old age? I can't find anything online that describes symptoms of old age in snakes so I don't know what to look for. Am I just going to find him passed away one day or will there be signs to prepare me?
Your answer might be here. 25 degrees Celsius converts to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the average temp for the cool side of a viv. They need a temp of 85-87 F, which converts to 30 degrees Celsius for proper digestion.

And you use a heating rock? They still make those torture machines or have you used it for the past 20 years? For the safety of your snake, please get rid of it and buy a proper UTH with a rheostat/thermostat to regulate the temps to warm your snake.
 
Old 07-02-2011, 12:11 PM   #7
bitsy
TBH at 20 years old, you could be coming up against something age-related, as well as the husbandry issue that Susan highlights. If you can get the warm side floor temp up a little, you might find that helps a lot.

Owning a pensioner myself (23 years old, had him since he was 3), I know only too well that what's worked happily for him over many years, sometimes just stops working. I've had to adjust things for him on occasion, so it might be time to review the heating arrangements and feeding.
 
Old 07-02-2011, 12:29 PM   #8
kathylove
I was thinking the same things as those who already posted. The ol' guy might have been able to handle chilly temps for digestion in his prime. But now he might need a little more "coddling", and more optimal temps. As he ages, you might have to adjust his food intake downward to account for slower metabolism, just like human seniors often do.

I would suggest getting a gram scale and weighing him once a month or so, to make sure he doesn't gain or lose much weight - that is, if he looks the proper weight right now. Then you can go to one mouse per meal, but maybe more frequently. And adjust up or down if he gains or loses weight.

Definitely follow the regurge protocol. And if he regurges again, be sure to get some Nutri Bac.
 

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