Snake Not Feeding???

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Snake Not Feeding???

Post by Tony W on Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:43 am

Hi all….After Darren’s [Bluejake] recent post “BCC not Eating” in the feeding section, thought I’d compile a few notes offered as advice on that thread…for those that have additional tips and recommendations please go ahead and add them to this …thanks!

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This is probably one of the most discussed topics on most forums….and let’s start with “don’t panic”…..snakes can go an awful long time without food……and there can be numerous reasons for a loss of appetite…...so not all doom and gloom!

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Different factors resulting in a loss of appetite could include the any of following or a combination of the same and are worth considering:

How Frequently Do You Feed? – A lot of us tend to overfeed, every 10 days or so doesn’t necessarily represent accurate feeding opportunities in the wild, so an overfed snake may simply not require food for a longer than normal period.

Habitat – Has there been any recent changes to your snakes living area? Has he been moved from a nice secure RUB to say a large 4x4x2 viv?

General Maintenance & Husbandry – Have you changed any husbandry practices that you ordinarily observe? Things like changing vivarium furniture, may be substrate but more likely changes surrounding ventilation, humidity and temperature.

Time of Year – What time of year is it? Remember during the breeding seasons some snakes fast for several weeks and have absolutely no interest in feeding whatsoever. I’ve a female El Salvador Boa that literally went off her food from around Feb/Mar time this year and has only started feeding quite recently …last year she had a voracious appetite.

Is your snake Female? – Coupled with the breeding season, is your snake gravid? A gravid female may fast through the complete term…5 months flash to bang!

Illness – So far everything you’ve considered has a self help solution, this one, illness, may not. If your snake refuses to feed over a period of time, displays noticeable weight loss, is particularly lethargic, deposits smelly runny stools, displays respiratory distress or any other mannerism that you have not observed or that appears unnatural. Take him to a reputable veterinarian surgery that specialises in Reptiles, they’ll examine your animal and likely ask for a stools sample and hopefully 1. Identify the problem and 2. Be able to advise and administer a course of treatment.

What Do You Feed – Various sizes of rodents from Mice, Gerbils, Hamsters, Multi Mammates, Rats, Rabbits and so on from day old to Jumbo and probably everything in between, the question here is have you changed your staple food item recently?

Miscellaneous Other – Snakes in shed often won’t be interested in feeding, however, this is not always the case.

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If you are concerned about your snake...get in touch with the previous owner and find out what he was fed, how he was fed, and how frequently. If you're unable to get a hold of this info at least try to find out whether he's a Wild Import, if yes he may need a visit to the vets to be wormed. As mentioned, if there is an underlying medical issue it can be identified and an appropriate treatment administered. Weight loss in a healthy snake over a 2 to 3 month period is not really that noticeable...over a few months maybe.......so if you witness dramatic weight loss there’s likely an underlying reason for the same….

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That would be my first bunch of considerations and the first step or two....on the basis that your snake is fit and healthy and with no medical issue....

…here's how I would attempt to feed him in order of priority and least invasive first:

1. Thawed rodent, warm, dry and heated on a radiator for a few minutes, or heated with an electric blow heater or hair dryer presented with forceps, if no feeding response....

2. Leave the warmed rodent with the snake overnight in the vivarium/RUB etc, if no feeding response....

3. Place a warm rodent into a more confined space with the snake, maybe a small shoe box or similar...leave overnight, if no feeding response....

4. "Braining" rodents can sometimes elicit a feeding response...crack open the skull to expose the contents...if no feeding response....

5. Change the size of rodent you are feeding....offer something smaller first...if no success then something slightly larger….

6. Change the type of rodent you are feeding...mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, Multi mammates [cure all IMO] etc…

7. Offer Fresh killed rodents....as above, if no feeding response....

8. Leave the animal for another period of time if all the above doesn't elicit a feeding response, attempt the same in a couple of weeks time....if no feeding response....

9. Offer a live rodent, if no feeding response....and you determine there is no alternative...

10. Assist feed

11. Force feed

Again, I can only stress if the animal is fit and healthy he should go for one of the above options, if he's hungry, 10 and 11 are absolute last resorts for me. If you’re really concerned and your snake appears to be losing a noticeable amount of weight I think vets is the first option, just to ensure there is no medical reason behind the loss of appetite…

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N.B. You’ll notice I’ve omitted Chicks as a food source, this only because I personally don’t consider chicks to be a nutritious staple, however, they can certainly be offered and fed periodically….scenting your rodents with chicks or other animals such as lizards etc may also elicit a feeding response and is also worth a try.

I think all of the basics are covered off here, however, I’m not that narrow minded to realise that other folk won't have their own method of encouraging a non feeder to take some food….

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As stated at the outset, perhaps members could use this thread to add to what has already been offered up thus far….for the more experienced members out there, while occasional non feeders become routine…close your eyes and remember back to the first snake or two that you had and how bothered it made you when one wouldn’t accept their offered food….Newcomers to the hobby have fewer stresses that a snake that doesn’t want to feed….

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Hopefully these notes are able to reduce stress levels [of owners in particular] in the first instance, and provide a logical and methodical course of action to elicit that sometimes elusive feeding response in your snake in the second…..

Tony W
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Number of posts : 2872
Age : 54
Location : N'ards, Co Down
Registration date : 2009-08-23

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