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Miscellaneous Corn Snake Discussions This is a "none of the above" forum. All posts should still be related to cornsnakes in one form or another, but some slight off topic posting is fine.

Feeding Frequency Correlation?
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Old 04-23-2007, 02:39 AM   #1
Feeding Frequency Correlation?

Well yes, I know that feeding frequency is related to size, but that's not really what I'm talking about here. It is, but it isn't.

I've talked to Dean about this, and I really believe that there is most definitely a correlation about how much food a snake gets in it's first few months of life is directly related with how fast a snake grows. I've noticed this in my collection, and Dean has in his.

Case in point is my keeper bloodred male. He's 65 grams right now chowing on small hoppers, and was hatched out August 1st. I had a female pewter from Rich that I got in I believe Jan of 2006 at 20 grams or so. That snake is currently at 120 grams or so eating weaned mice. I have no doubt that my holdback bloodred will be at 120 grams in 2 months, which will be the 10 months mark or so. The pewter is at the 120 gram mark at the 18-20 month mark. I know without a doubt she'll be big enough to breed in 2008, but I see a correlation without a doubt.

So, my opinion is that when you get a snake (normally from a big breeder) that has been on a maintenance diet it takes much longer for that snake to get up to weight than a snake you got immediately upon hatching and were not cheap with your feedings.

I know personally I have passed up more than a few 06 snakes in the past few weeks because of size. Bayou Reptiles had some lav stripes up for sale, but they were just too small for my liking, especially with knowing what a challenge it can be for those snakes to take off. So I certainly know that when snakes start hatching out this year I'll be getting what I want as soon as the breeder is willing to sell them.

Anyone else have an opinion on this?
Old 04-23-2007, 03:26 AM   #2
Mrs InsaneOne
This is something we have noticed in our colonies as well Joe, I don't think it is just the frequency of feedings involved.

For example, take that male anery het lavender that we got from you. He was 30 grams back in September and he's nearly 200 grams now. I didn't feed him overly agressively, but he ate more readily then some of our other snakes.

I have another, a lavender motley girl here, from Forktongue Farms, that weighed maybe 4 grams when we brought her home. She was a tiny runt for sure when we got her back in September and she's only at about 30-40 grams. Yet, the little non-feeder we purchased from you is well over 50 grams and she was about the same size as the lav motley at the same time and both have been fed on the same days. The blood's siblings, that we have, are pushing 80 I believe.

Then we have the huge sunkissed boy from CCCorns, he's been fed more of a maintentance diet then the undersized snakes and the other snakes we picked up about March of last year, and he's between 150 and 175. He's lucky to get a mouse less then 7-10 days after his last.

To me, in what I have observed in our collection, I think frequency coupled with a snake's line genetics is what determines the growth rate. Not to mention proper heating during the digestion period can be a big factor as well.

I have not noticed a difference between those of my snakes on a f/t diet as opposed to a live/prekill diet EXCEPT when it came to the adults and sub-adults that would take only F/T grew slower when fed F/T that I bought from other sources. The snakes eating F/T that was from our colonies grew the same as those eating live/prekill from our colonies.

So, quality of food would be a factor could be a factor in some cases.

Old 04-23-2007, 03:44 AM   #3
We know that human fetuses whose mom's are nutritionally challenged are born with slower metabolic rates than fetuses whose mom's are not. Human fetuses "can assume" that the resource richness of their post-gestational environment will be similar to their gestational one, with that long period of infant dependence and all. Snakes, though, probably can't "make that assumption."

It seems like it would be advantageous for hatchlings to have some physiological mechanism whereby they could adjust their metabolic rates based on information they receive about the resource richness in their environments (which they would get right after hatching). As a snake, it's beneficial to get as big as possible as fast as possible so you can start breeding. Life history models will tell you that, all other things being equal, decreasing your age at first reproduction is the best thing you can do for your lifetime reproductive success. But when things are really tough and starvation is a serious risk (that is, when juvenile mortality is high, because juveniles are most susceptible to death from starvation because they are small), it behooves an organism to slow down its development--slow and steady at least gets to the starting line, in other words. These models have been used to explain the evolution of protracted vs. rapid development in all kinds of organisms, and have met with a reasonable amount of success, in my opinion. Seems like it could also work within species as well. It would be interesting to experiment with.
Old 04-23-2007, 09:34 AM   #4
I've also noticed different breeders have different growth rates as well, as I've purchased two Lavender Zig Zag females from two different breeders within a week of each other, with two days separating hatch dates. One outweighs the other by almost 15 grams... I've also found different rates of growth in hatchlings if they eat f/t or live. I slice f/t from head to tail, and those feeders are usually larger on average, but the live feeders are more muscular... Is it because they use more energy having to constrict, as well as use their muscles longer to kill their prey? Hmmmmm....
Old 04-23-2007, 10:02 AM   #5
Roy Munson
As Joe state, we've discussed this, and I agree with his view. Of course, there are exceptions. My '05 female lav-blood was delivered on 1/3/06, and she only weighed 12g. She weighs about 370g now, so her initial maintenance diet didn't affect her much.
Old 04-23-2007, 10:09 AM   #6
I honestly think that sometimes maintenance diets can be a little to aggressive. For example a pal of mine just had a female pewter arrive, an 06 weighing only 22 grams but she looks extremely small. I have an 06 hypo male (september hatch) who was 30 grams in December, hes now over 100.

I too am put off by maintanence diets and would not consider buying an 06 from a "big breeder" if I wasn't getting my moneys worth so to speak. Sometimes the leftover 06's at this time of year just look pitiful *sigh*
Old 04-23-2007, 03:06 PM   #7
In my "grand scheme" of things I haven't seen much difference unless there are extremes involved. I've raised a LOT of snakes to adulthood. Of all the snakes that I've purchased that were about 24 months or under, I've had no problem getting them too adulthood by age 3. The only exception was one snake that was just always a fussy eater for me and I was too stubborn to attempt live with her for a long time. She would basically only eat f/t to keep herself alive, about one small meal every 3 weeks. By age 3 she still under 100 grams. At that point I had established my own colony of mice and discovered that she would eat live like there was no tomorrow. This snake from then on out fed ravenously on live and was well over 300 grams less than a year later when I weighed her at age 4 before finally breeding her. She's a small sample but also seems to prove that what you say is not always the case.
However I may just have a less aggressive attitude regarding growing my corns. I pretty much have the goal of getting my critters to breeding size by age 3 and if they reach that size by age 2 (which many here do) that's just icing on the cake. I sappose if your goal was to get all your animals breeding size by age 2, you may be a little bit more concerned with optimum growth rates. Then again what is optimum growth rate? To get them to produce as fast as possible or to get them to grow at the rate that suits the individual snake the best? Or does it make a difference?
Personally, in my collection I've found that animals that are breeding size by age 3 do better than animals that I bred at age 2. They have less problems with egg binding... although here we go off on a side note for a moment: I've had less binding problems breeding 2 year old animals that were UNDER the 300 gram mark than 2 year old animals that were OVER the 300 gram mark. Now there is a HUGE disclaimer that begs to be announced that this does NOT mean I endorse breeding 2 year old animals under 300 grams. It has taken me many years to develop a "knack" for picking females that were ready and females that weren't. Of course breeding is always a risk, but unless you've been doing this awhile, it's always best to stick to the three three's, 300 grams, 3 years, 3 feet, (and not fat!).
Back to topic "3 year olds vs 2 year olds": My 3 year olds have less binding problems and typically produce more eggs than the 2 year olds. In keeping "project" animals, I've noted that most "sisters" will produce very similar sized clutches. The only time I've noticed variance in this is when I've bred one sister at age 2 and another at age 3. I'd say that after raising about 6 pairs of such sisters, the ones I bred at age 2 laid clutches that were about 9-12 eggs for the first three years while the ones bred at age 3 laid larger clutches (in the high teens) for the years to come. Although if you spread out your production over 3 years it probably evens out since you got an extra clutch from the 2 year old. Then again here is another example: I bred a Hypo Lav to a Bloodred in 2003, since that Hypo Lav male had been used a lot and was very young, I backed him up with a Bloodred male. This backfired on me a bit because I only got female triple het normals and not a single male. I guess it was better than the alternative. So I kept two females and had to do the same breeding the following year to get some males and of course I held back two more from the 2004 clutch. I bred all these animals last year and the 3 year olds gave me two clutches each in the high teens. The 2 year olds gave me one clutch of about 12 each. Of course it's too small of a sample to say anything but the production difference does intrigue me. Why did the older females 2nd clutch and not the younger? Even more interesting, this year the older females gave me 19 and 20 eggs and are preparing to 2nd clutch now, and the younger ones still gave me little clutches. Wish I knew what that meant, they are all full siblings.
So whats my point? Sure I get impatient and breed some of my females at age 2, however it seems a lot less stressful on me and the snakes, there is reduced risk, and possible better/easier production from animals that were bred at age 3, at least in my experience. And hand in hand, unless extremes are involved most animals reach breeding size by age 3 no matter how the first year went.
I remember asking Don years ago about buying "year old" animals that weren't much bigger than fresh hatchlings and he had mentioned that although they may take as long as the hatchling to reach adulthood, he saw no ill effects from them taking a little bit longer to get there. On the other hand, we had also talked about raising babies on a "every 2 weeks" basis and his experience was that such an extreme did create babies that just didn't thrive and sometimes just died for "no apparent reason" even after being put on a more normal schedule. So I agree that if the maintenance diet is extreme, it will create unhealthy animals. However, I don't agree it is beneficial to push a hatchling's growth either. And for the other can of worms... what exactly is the benefit of having a faster growth rate?
Sorry for the book, I'm trying to keep my mind off of other troubles.
Old 04-26-2007, 03:22 PM   #8
I have definately noticed this. My UK bred 2006 animals are quite a bit larger than my 2006 USA bred animals, allthough the only USA breeders my snakes come from are serpenco and Joe Pierce.
Ive grown 2 corns on the same feeding schedule, a female anery mot-striped and a male amel stripe, both 2005 animals and the male is only on small adult mice while the female will now quite happily feed on large adults.
I believe they are both UK bred so it must of been very very early on they were fed differantly as ive had them from around 2 months old.
Old 04-26-2007, 03:49 PM   #9
Originally Posted by carol
And for the other can of worms... what exactly is the benefit of having a faster growth rate?
I wonder about this, too. What other animal is there where it is beneficial to the animal to have a faster than normal growth rate? They grow up horses faster than normal so they can be raced. They grow up dogs faster than normal because the bigger ones do better at shows. It seems to me that bigger/faster animal growth is really only beneficial to the humans that want something from them. (Not criticizing anyone- )

I just got an 08/05 cornsnake that is half the size I'd expect her to be if she was a 2006. I have her feeding records from the previous owner- (not the breeder) and she's a good eater on a five day schedule who hasn't missed a meal. What on earth was she being fed at the breeder's where she spent most of her life? Do you guys that feed normally ever have babies that stay so tiny- or was she just not fed enough?? Other than size, she's healthy and strong and lively and shed twice in the two months the previous owner had her- I believe she's going to start catching up now.

Old 04-27-2007, 08:29 AM   #10
I've also observed this, on a small scale.

I bought a pair of Butter Mots aged two months. They had been power-fed by their breeder and were about three times the size that I'd normally expect at that age. They were adult-sized - large adult-sized - within 18 months, despite being on my standard feeding regime which would normally see Corns reach 300g at around two and a half years.

I also have an Amel stripe, who took months to start eating as a hatchling, and was then kept on a maintenance diet for a year until I bought her. Aged three, she's still under 300g and only capable of taking medium mice. I'm not sure if I ever expect her to be much bigger than she is.

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