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Tonya Clauss
Tonya Clauss, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 70
Experience:  Veterinary assistant for 7 years, now a veterinarian for 3 years
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why wont my california king snake eat

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She is a brown and yellow female calfornia king snake she is about 4 years old i think and she is 4 & 1/2 foot long. She has not eaten for about 5 months now, her tempreture is correct at 78f and her environment is clean and suitable she has clean water she is or shouldent at least be stressed no reason why she should be other then placement of her tank cant think of much else hope you can help.

Optional Information:
Age: 7; Female; Breed: calafornia king snake

Already Tried:
force feeding and continued atempts to tempt her with food

How long have you owned the snake?

When was her last defecation?

When did she last shed and was it a normal shed?

Are you sure she's a she?
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
i have owed her for about 2 years and in that time she has been mostly great happy with her envoirement, i know for sure because female king snakes lay eggs if they are happy and that then also confirms that she is female. I dont know what a defacation is so i cant tell you when her last one was. The last time she shed was a approxamtly a week before she last ate which was aprroxamtly 5 monthes 1 week and it was a normal shed i have never seen one that isnt, she has always been a good shedder, shedding at every 5 to 6 weeks shes layed eggs about 5 times in the 2 years we have had her she is a lovely mild tempered snake, she has been nearly 4 monthes before without eating but this is the longest and its concerning, when she does eat she eats well on average 2 to 3 chicks in the feed time period (one after the other) once a week she is great with her food when she eats i never normally have any problems, she is always quite quick and eager to take her food from me, and when she does sometimes she coils it to the floor like a constricter would.
I'm sorry, I should have asked when the last time was that she went to the bathroom or eliminated (defecation). Is what goes in, coming out?

Do you always feed chicks? Are they dead when you feed them?

When did she last lay eggs?
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
well the last time she went to the toilet was well i would say a good 3 monthes no i dont always feed her chicks, most of the time yes, but i have fed her dead baby rabbits when they have died before as i used to breed them and i have also fed her baby rats and mice but hardly a meal for her she has also had a shrew that the cat brought in once and once some people thought it was sick but i had 4 out of 5 from a litter of young small kittens died i offered her one of them last time she seemed active for food and she never took, the week before that was her last feed i hope i hadent put her of her food, i shouldent think that would be possable. I never feed live food not only can the snake be harmed but is is nasty and also illegil to feed live food in this country. the last time she layed eggs was approxamtly 9 months ago what i should do really but i keep forgetting is to keep record of sheds and when she lays eggs and when she goes to the toilet and eats as it is quite imporntant with a snake all though i always am good at roughly keeping track in my head though
I can not tell you exactly why she has not eaten, but I do have some suggestions for you, based on the information you've given.

It sounds as if you know your snake pretty well, like you said, but you are correct, a written record is always best, XXXXX XXXXX animals that don't eat, eliminate, lay eggs or shed very frequently.

First off, I'd suggest that you not feed any animal that has died from an unknown cause, such as the kittens or baby rabbits. If they died from an illness or parasite, that same issue could effect your snake. I would also suggest not feeding any wild caught preay items as you do not know the health or parasite status of those animals either.

You are good not to offer live food, as live prey could hurt her, but you ought to try to feed fresh killed or frozed (and thawed) certified reptile food rodents, rabbits or chicks. The frozen ones are available on the internet, in pet shops and with some local dealers. They may be a bit more expensive, but are worth the money in terms of animal health.

I have to say that the possibility of egg binding is not out of the question for your snake. Since you've not seen her eliminate, shed or lay eggs for quite sometime, it sounds as if her system is a bit out of sorts.

You ought to consider having your snake examined by a reptile veterinarian. I recommend a vet exam every year to two years to make sure they are in good health, even when everything seems to be just fine.

A vet will be able to do an oral exam, vent exam, x-rays, blood work and talk to you in more detail about the husbandry of your snake's enclosure.

Some other things that you can consider, but that you've likely tried, are increasing the humidity in the tank to between 40 and 60% and soak the snake in warm (not hot) water a couple of times each week.

I would not wait too much longer before you seed assistance. It takes a reptile a long time to get sick, but once they are there, it is not always easy to nurse them back to health.

Also, be careful force feeding - you don't want to force the issue if there is an obstruction or problem that has to be taken care of medically.

I hope I've been of some help. Good luck with your snake. If you have other questions, I'll try to answer them, but it is hard to make a diagnosis when you can not see the animal.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tonya Clauss's Post: Could I ask what is egg binding. There is not alot of chance for me to be able to take her to a reptile vet as there is not one anywhere near me and I have no mode of transport because of disability.
Egg binding is when they can not lay their eggs. This can occur for many reasons: inadequate calcium, phosphorus ratios; inadequate UV light; improper temperature or humiditiy; natural causes.

You can not necessarily feel the eggs if you pick the snake as their eggs aren't really firm like a chicken's. Some you can feel, other's not. I'm not saying this is her trouble, I'm just saying that it can not be immediately ruled out.

Try the soaking and increasing the humidity.

Do you feel anything firm or irregular in her belly?
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
I have felt her belly and have not felt any abnoremalities I will try the methord of soaking her you suggested just incase it is eggbinding . I understand the dangers of given her a wild rodents now, not knowing whats wrong with it, the kittens died because the mother attacked them so they didnt die of any disease she was a young cat and could not handle her first ever litter and the rabbits had died of being born to close to winter so they didnt die of disease either but still I wont feed her any thing other then brought frozen chicks in the future. Something I asked/mentioned earier but you had not said about was do you thing that since I moved her tank from under the stairs and placed her directly in the hall that being in main view and being walked closer to may have put her of her food, I do doubt its that but I just wondered, she only ate once or twice after she was moved but it's more then likely a coincidence, I cant adjust the heat on the mat so I cant raise the temperture it is a one setting heat mat its set to a certain required temp and sorry 2 other things, you mentioned earlier that one of the reasons she may have egg binding is inadequate UV light well the thing about that is she has never had a uv light she has got a desktop light on top of the tank facing in to her which i keep on during the day instead is this adaquete. and finally could you tell me approxamatly how long do my breed of snake live on average thankyou for all your advise i will accept your next answer infomation thankyou again. Darren

Give me until tonight to think on some things with your snake and your other questions. I need to check a couple of sources on the life span, too.

How big was she when you first got her?

Talk to you later.

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
ok thanks, XXXXX XXXXX accept your answer which I do intionally will you still get back to me on the other info. She was about 4 foot when we got her she has grown about half a foot in the 2 yrs we have had her. Darren
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Because I thought once I had accepted the answer that was the end of the topic and no further information could be posted if this is not the case I will accept your answer straight away ok cheers.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.

Not sure if you got the PM, but at 4.5 ft, she should be pretty much full grown. If healthy, they can live approx. 20 years.

Yes, the move in location of her tank could have thrown her off a bit. Higher traffic areas are often times a bad location for various reptiles. People tend to think that they don't notice, but they do, some just don't mind. I'm not saying that is the cause of her anorexia (not eating), but it may have contributed to the problem.

In reference to the lighting: Yes, she does need full spectrum (UVA/UVB) lighting. You want about 12 hours of light for her per day. I'd also have a UV basking lamp over a branch raised off the bottom so that she can elevate herself and bask if she likes. In addition to the lighting, the heat pad under is good. These snakes don't require a real high humidity, so between 30 and 6o% is okay. With the basking/heat lamp, you'll also be able to acheive the 5 to 10 degree temperature difference that is recommended between day and night in their tank. Newspaper or reptile carpet is fine for substrate. Avoid sand, wood chips or other things that could block her intestines if she accidentally ate them with her food.

Let's see, what else. Oh yeah. Eggs. They don't usually lay until between May and August, so if you don't see any for a while and don't feel any, there's likely no trouble, but try really hard to remember if you've seen any since last May.

I think you have a couple of husbandry (tank related) issues to improve, but in general I think you are trying really hard. It is also winter and time for these animals to be hibernating, so that makes everything more difficult to assess.

I know this is a tough one, but I'd still recommend that you have a vet take a look at her once a year or so, especially as she ages, if at all possible.

Let me know if there are any other questions.

I hope this helps. Did I answer them all? Let me know if not.

Tonya Clauss and other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Thanks for your help in this I have accepted your answer and paid you and also left you poitive feedback, thanks greatly, I recently thoughrly cleaned her tank out and handled her for a fair while as well as bathing her in warm water, she seemed more active for a while, and now it seems she is hibernating as she has buried herself under her water bowel and has been there for two days now, I have never seen her do this before for more then half a day. As for the uv light and basking light, I will get that bought and fitted straight away after christmas as im skint now and also you mentioned about using Newspaper or reptile carpet for substraite and not sand or wood chippings ive always used wood chippings apart from once when I ran out and used paper which was ugly and then sand but small brought chippings seemed to have been the best for me. she always has been fine.

Thank you. Good to hear she was a little better after the soak. At least the wood chippings are a natural substance, just watch them. Good luck with her. Let me know if you have other questions.

Happy Holidays.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Thanks alot tryed to feed her again before she went under bowel still no interest though maybe after hibernation hope you have a merry christmas and a happy new year thanks again i may contact you again in the new feb if she still hasent eaten bnt lets hope that she has by then hey lol ta. Darren