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RE: Help with trans pecos rat snake

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Posted by: tbrock at Wed Oct 16 10:52:34 2013  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tbrock ]  

Eric - First, the two possible issues you are talking about are very different problems. The first thing to do is to make certain which is happening - regurgitation or refusal. Food refusal is usually not as big a problem as regurgitation, and can be due to several things. If you don't already have it, I highly reccommend Dusty Rhoads's book "The Complete Suboc".

First (regarding refusal) consider the possibilities which are least severe - it is getting cooler right now in the range of Trans-Pecos rats, and he may be slowing down on feeding due to wanting to shutdown / hibernate / brumate. Another possibility is security - some snakes are more secretive than others, and may want / need more hides, or different types of hides. Since you are keeping it in a glass tank, it may feel stressed from being exposed when not hiding. I would provide several hiding options in such a setup, of various sizes, including two moist hides - one in the cool end and one in the warm end. Another thing which works for some snakes is laying a thick layer of newspaper on top of a deep layer of substrate, which the snake can hide under and move from one end to the other without being exposed. Remember - easy viewing of the snake is a convenience for you - it does not make the snake feel secure to be watched. On moist hides - depending on how humid it is where you live, you may not need to keep a moist hide moist all of the time. I use a moist / dry hide complex for many of my ratsnakes of various species, which consists of a moist hide inside / under a larger dry hide, which many shy snakes really like. The space between the dry and moist hide are enough for the snake to squeeze into - not too open and not too tight. If the snake is refusing meals, I would give him a couple weeks and then offer one smaller than normal mouse - if he was taking small adults, then offer a fuzzy or small hopper. I have had subocs go off feeding on f/t mice, and have gotten them feeding again by giving them live mice. This option works okay for me, because I breed mice, but may not be the best option for you. The problem is that they will sometimes switch to only wanting live mice.

If the snake is regurging its food, this can be due to some very serious issues, and subocs can be difficult to bring back from regurging issues. If the snake is regurging, I suggest first getting the snake to a vet to be evaluated, and have a fecal sample tested for parasites. Some people claim they have had subocs regurge when water (in the water bowl) is left in the cage during / immediately after feeding time, and once the water was removed, the problem went away. Due to the habitat subocs come from, the species needs very well ventilated caging - and since I am guessing you have him in a screen topped glass tank, this is considered well ventilated. The temps you mentioned are okay, but remember that there need to be hides in both warm and cool ends. If the snake is shy and is forced to sit in a hide at temps which are not conducive to digestion, this can also cause issues. If the snake has no parasitic or bacterial issues, I would let it clear its guts for three weeks and then offer it a much smaller than usual prey item, like a fuzzy mouse.

-Toby Brock
Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research


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