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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.

Lethargy, Circulatory Issue
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Old 04-23-2021, 03:48 PM   #1
Lethargy, Circulatory Issue

Hello everyone, I'm in need of some advice or input on a peculiar situation. I have been unable to find information online about this issue, so I'm giving this a shot.

I have a thirteen year old male normal corn snake. I have had him since he hatched (as well as his sibling who is in great health). He is kept on aspen shavings in a 20g long. Hot side averages about 86-90 depending on the Florida weather. I drop temps at night to simulate the time shift and have done this his entire life. Humidity is 40% on average. When he was younger, I was feeding small rats every two weeks as he is a rather large corn snake. I recently dropped him down to a rat pup every two weeks because I noticed he has been "slowing down" in the last year or two. He has maintained his size and is honestly a bit more chunky than I'd like him to be. His sibling is a better weight despite the same feeding schedule.

About two months ago, he had a weird episode and I thought he was dying. Normally, I feed prekilled or thawed. This instance, another snake refused a live rat pup, so I offered it to him. He's taken live before fine on rare occasions. He got the head down, but spit it out, did not kill it, defecated, and became lethargic. His mouth seemed puffy and it started turning purple. I checked his airway and there was no signs of trauma or blockage. He seemed disoriented, was rolling over, etc. This happened for about one hour and when I thought he had passed, he rolled back over and his mouth was pink and behavior normal.

I gave him another week before feeding and then he has had normal meals since.

Well, the same situation happened again today, but with a prekilled pup. He got the head down, spit it back up, had the puffy mouth and lethargy. Mouth was purple.

Obviously, he's having an issue with getting oxygen, but I'm confused. I'm becoming nervous to feed him at this point. I had tried smaller food items to reduce stress/work, but he won't take mice anymore.

Thoughts? Advice? Has anyone experienced this?

I do have an exotic vet nearby, but they are booked out for a month and I'm also in process of moving out of state. I'm not currently pursuing testing.
Old 04-23-2021, 08:33 PM   #2
I haven't experienced your issue. Barring a defect in your snake's development, he shouldn't be able to suffocate while eating (the airway connects to the lungs to accommodate breathing while eating large prey).

Another thing I haven't heard of, but what your issue sounds like, is that your snake may be allergic to rat. It is possible for people to be allergic to specific types of meat, such as venison, by being bitten by a tick that had recently fed on deer. As noted, I've never heard of a snake having a food allergy, but it sure sounds like your problem.

I'd give the snake a week off of feeding and then just stick with mice with him. Feed leftover rats to another snake.
Old 04-23-2021, 11:28 PM   #3
Thanks for your reply. I had considered the possibility of some form of allergy. Though, with his age and diet history, I suspect it would be a reaction to something on the rat than the rat itself. I've only ever gotten feeders from the same supplier, but they can be kinda sketchy sometimes...

I had reached out to some zookeeping friends and they were at a loss about the situation.

I'll have to try and get him to take rats. Stubborn boy likes his rats. lol

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