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RE: Rubber boa just had babies

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Posted by: RichardFHoyer at Thu Sep 10 10:17:01 2009  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by RichardFHoyer ]  

Unlike garter snakes that shed immediately or shortly after birth, Rubber Boa neonates usually require from about a week to sometime three weeks to shed relative to a number of factors including the prevailing temperature at which they are maintained.

Undoubtedly there are many ways to successfully handle newborn Rubber Boas. The method I have used for neonates from many hundreds of litters obtained from both captive bred females and captured gravid females is to place the neonates in cottage cheese containers about 2/3rds full of moist old Douglas fir sawdust with small holes in the lid to allow ventilation. I then leave the containers with neonates on the floor of my study at normal room temperatures which is about 70 during the day and cooler at night.

As for feeding, post partum females will frequently take a meal right after or soon after parturition.

If the parent female was in a moderate to very robust condition when she began the gestation period, the neonates should have a considerable amount of stored excess yoke in their abdomens. You can view this stored yoke if you hold the neonate up to a light source as the young are semi-transparent. They can survive on that yoke for well over a year without ever taking a meal provided the neonates are properly hydrated and maintained at temperatures that mimic what occurs in the wild. Consequently, there is no need to be concerned if such neonates do not take prey after shedding.

Keep in mind the species is cool temperature tolerant and can carry-on most life functions at temperatures in the 60's to low 70's. Except during gestation, there is no need to keep Rubber Boas at temperatures in the high 70's and above. The higher the temperature at which specimens are maintained, the more active they tend to be, the faster they will utilize body reserves, which in turn translates into more frequent feeding required to maintain relative health (weight) of specimens.

In the wild, parturition usually takes place from late August into October with the peak occurring in the second week of Sept. With neonates taking from about 10 days or more to shed, they are not left with a great deal of time to secure and digest a meal before the time arrives to find a place to brumate over winter. Thus I do not believe that most neonates secure a meal before brumation. As a rule, I have not offered meals to any neonates I have intend to retain. I just set them up for brumation and then offer prey the following April when I remove the neonates from brumation conditions. This is precisely what transpires in the wild.

If your goal is to attain rapid growth and maturity as soon as possible, then one can try and feed neonates soon after they shed and keep the specimens at abnormal temperatures through what normally would be the brumation period. I did that for three litters in the late 1960's and early 1970's as I had some specific goals for those boas. Ever since, I simply have attempted to mimic what occurs in the wild with respect to temperatures and maintaining both the adult and immature Rubber Boas I have maintained.

Richard F. Hoyer


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