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PitRottMommy
PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 4592
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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My red tail hog island boa is lethargic refusing food was

Customer Question

My red tail hog island boa is lethargic refusing food was fine the other day. Her tail feels limp Nd squishy. She only becomes active when I hold her. But she won't coil around my hand
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

Hi Jamie, thanks for your question. Can you tell me more about Hash and her setup?

1) Any pictures to share of her setup?

2) How long have you had her?

3) Can you tell me the ambient heat, humidity and hot spot temperature in her terrarium?

4) When was her last meal and what did she eat?

5) Do you feed prekilled, frozen/thawed or live?

6) When was her last BM?

7) Has she ever had a intestinal parasite screen?

8) When did she last shed?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I've had her a year got her from a friend. She has a 60 watt heat lamp but the bulb burned out. She was without it just a couple days. She also has a heat pad. Still warm. I have 3 snakes feed them all 4 mice Once a month. I was a little late on this feed. But the other 2 were fine. I fed them all today Nd she showed no interest in the mouse. I tried to interest her but no luck. All 3 are on live mice. Last bm was few days after the last feeding. No screens as long as I've owned her last shed was a few weeks ago. Her Nd my other female shed around the same time.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
She's never acted this way Nd I'm very worried
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

How long is she, Jamie, in length? She looks to be on the thin side. Has she always had good interest in feeding aside from this?

Any idea on the ambient temperature, hot spot heat and humidity? Is there a hygrometer present? If she has no ambient heat, one must assume she's acquiring heat from only the heating pad and the room temp. If this is the case, what is the ambient room temperature. Also, what kind of heating pad is being used? Is this one marketed for reptile care on a thermostat (one that has a temperature, perhaps?) or a human heating pad?

Sorry for all the questions. I want to be sure I have the most info available so I can give you the most comprehensive answer.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
all 3 snakes are in separate tanks as well
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

How long is she, Jamie, in length? She looks to be on the thin side. Has she always had good interest in feeding aside from this?

Any idea on the ambient temperature, hot spot heat and humidity? Is there a hygrometer present? If she has no ambient heat, one must assume she's acquiring heat from only the heating pad and the room temp. If this is the case, what is the ambient room temperature. Also, what kind of heating pad is being used? Is this one marketed for reptile care on a thermostat (one that has a temperature, perhaps?) or a human heating pad?

Sorry for all the questions. I want to be sure I have the most info available so I can give you the most comprehensive answer.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Bout 3 feet give or take. She's never turned food away. She even takes the mice if I dangle them. She's always been thin. I'm in sure of the temp cuz I didn't get a thermometer when my friend gave her to me. Its roughly 70 degrees or more in the house. The heat vent is actually under the desk her tank is on. It's a reptile heating pad by zilla.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Normally she's alert as heck Nd active
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
First pic is her Nd my other female second is her exploring last is a close up. As u see she's always been a small snake.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

There are a few things to address here as far as husbandry that once done will likely bring her appetite back around.

Reptiles must be at the proper heat for them to desire to eat. For RTB's that's around 80 degrees. From the information above, it sounds like it's about 10 degrees too cool. Heating pads do help to heat snakes, as long as they're laying on them, but they must also be regulated. The heating pad should be around 90 degrees and keep in mind that that does not raise the ambient temperature. If she's not laying on the pad continually, she won't receive the heat that she needs. Additionally, the humidity needs to be around 70%. Some terrariums need to be partially covered with a solid sheet of wood, glass or other insulation that allows the humidity to stay that high. There are super cheap thermometer/hygrometer combos that you can place in the middle of her cage to give you an idea on temp and humidity. Pet stores carry them, as well as stores like Walmart and Home Depot. The humidity can suffer a little bit for a short while, but ambient heat absolutely must be where it should be in order for her to feel like doing anything she's supposed to do and that's likely why she's acting lethargic.

As well, I'd also like to address her food sourcing. At 3' in length, she's not getting enough food for her size. You can certainly maintain feeding mice, if you prefer, but I would recommend a small to medium adult rat once a week. If you stick with mice, increase the frequency that you're feeding. Offering her 4-6 mice at a time may cause regurgitation. She has a lot of body size to make up for and this, also, may be contributing to her lack of appetite. When their calories intake is low enough, the body can enter a type of hibernation-like state where the snakes will conserve energy.

Once you bring her ambient/hotspot/humidity percentage back to where they need to be, give her about a week and then offer her prey. Do be cautious about feeding her live, especially in this state, as it's not uncommon for rodents to attack predators when they're not interested in eating. In fact, this is why so many herpers have gone away from feeding live: they have the capacity to injure. If she refuses mice and rats once at a higher temperature, consider using a hamster or gerbil. They are a much different item and often the switch gives snakes the added desire to feed. Right now, focus on getting her to eat vs. feeding larger quantities. If the temp remains low and she feeds, she may also regurgitate.

I've attached this sheet below to give you more husbandry info:

http://www.reptipro.com/care-sheets/snakes/88-hog-island-boa-boa-constrictor-imperator-care-sheet.html

Another thing I would consider looking into is a CHE (ceramic heat emitter) instead of using UTH (under the tank heating). these are more dependable for keeping snakes warm and where we want their humidity, plus it makes a hot spot possible (heating pads don't when it comes to ambient heat).

Keep doing as you're doing with allowing her to stay in her bath. Move it closer to the heating pad to keep the water warm, if that's where she prefers to stay. Keep an eye out for any wheezing, sniffling and bubbles coming from her nostrils. There's a risk of respiratory compromise at this time too.

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
We took her out the bath cuz she kept moving out of it. I took 2 pieces of paper towel got em wet put those on this the heat pad Nd put her on it. Then took another piece with warm water put that on top of her. She isn't moving much but has plenty eye movement. I'm seriously concerned about if she will be ok...
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

If you're concerned, it's time to go to the emergency room and request their help. I think you'll find they'll give you the same information I have, presuming there is a herp vet on staff at this hour in your city. The eye movement is a good sign. Without her being up to proper temperatures, however, she's not going to move much. Reptiles take much longer to make the changes we'd normally see in mammals. So an improvement right now may not show vast improvements for days.

You can also do what is called a hospitalization cage which is where you'd remove her to a small sterilite tub (you want it to be about half of her length in length, so if she's 3' you want the length of the tub to me no more than 1.5'), place moist paper towels in there with her and lay half of the tub on her heating pad (assuming here that it wont melt it). Then place her into a warm, dark area where you can check on her every 3-6 hours. This is often done for snakes who need help shedding, due to lower humidity percentages, and so forth. It can be quite useful for snakes in her condition, too.