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RE: coluber foxi - problem feeding

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Posted by: 53kw at Wed May 11 07:41:07 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by 53kw ]  

The photo shows a bit of scale rot, which can be caused by a suite of bacteria and even fungus. It's rarely cause for alarm. I see wild snakes with a touch of scale rot all the time, especially in early spring after they have emerged from moist hibernacula. Let her shed and it will most likely clear up.

Make sure her water bowl is too heavy to tip over even if it's empty. Racers love to rearrange furniture and need ceramic or glass bowls. I find economical water bowls at my local grocery store, in the kitchen section among the dishes and serving bowls. There are several brands of souffle dishes and serving bowls with straight sides, made of ceramic. Most are less expensive than ExoTerra composite bowls or ceramic bowls sold as reptile water dishes, and do as well or better.

I've attached some photos of my Sterilite baby racer/coachwhip setup. Your snake is clearly too large for containers like these but they show key elements of light and ventilation. The best thing you can do for your racer, and your future in the herp hobby for that matter, is to invest in fan-vented cages.

Since your User ID is "pythonowner" I'm thinking you probably have some pythons. Boas and pythons are ambush predators that think nothing of lying around in the same place for days on end, waiting for food to pretty much walk down their throats. Their metabolisms are adapted to allow long periods between meals without harm, and they are really not interested in exerting themselves.

Racers and other sighthunters can't afford to wait for a meal--they are trapped in high-metabolism bodies and must hunt. All the sighthunters are restless, problem-solving, fiesty snakes that need space and plenty of fresh air. No denying that many keepers have racers, coachwhips and indigos in small enclosures without much ventilation, and I've seen those keepers swear by their technique but if they moved their animals into full-spectrum-lit, vented cages I expect they would see a profound change. I speak from my experience on those occasions when I've persuaded keepers and curators to try some vented cages and spent the next several months hearing about what a difference it made.

If you are determined to do right by your blue racer, my thought is that your best next move is to find a way to provide the best enclosure. If you have any woodworking ability, it is really no challenge to make a custom cage out of plywood or mdf clad in formica. If you use plywood, use birch plywood as it is nice and smooth and seals nicely with several coats of water-based varnish. Install several inexpensive 15-watt fluorescent lights in the top, one of which should be a ZooMed 10.0 UV bulb. Also install an incandescent socket at the end where the fan is, to create a basking site. The cages need to be front-opening and have no vents other than the fan vent and an intake vent on the opposite end.

You need to make the cage large, about five to six feet long and 30 inches deep. I make a face frame that sits inside the cage to support the open front of the cage, provide a frame for the doors to rest and lock on, and creat a litter dam along the bottom edge. Doors are simple square frames with acrylic panels for viewing, secured with cam locks.

The heart of the system is the vent fan. Axial fans are available from Grainger, which has stores all over the nation as well as online ordering. You will need a fan that moves 95 or more cubic feet per minute; the fans I use cost about $55 for fan, cord and protective cover (sold seperately).

You will need to be able to make straight cuts to create the carcass, face frame and door frames, and a router to make the vent holes in the ends of the cage. You will need saw blades specific to cutting acrylic to make the door panels and an acrylic drill bit, as well as a high-speed laminate trimming router to create clean holes in the acrylic for the shaft of the cam locks to pass through. Other tools include a drill press, brad nailer and hand drill.

There really is no substitute for the right cage. It saves money to make your own but if you don't have the ability to build your own cage, a local wood fabricator can do it for you.

BTW, if you try a python in a cage like this, you'll notice a difference there, too. Vented cages dry quickly so be sure to stay on top of keeping the substrate moist but not flooded.

Here are the photos of baby racer/coachwhip containers. The top photo is a detail of the screen assembly, made by cutting a square hole in the lid of the Sterilite, then using strips of the scrap to make edge covers for the screen by hot-gluing the strips over the screen edge.


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