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HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

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  • HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

    So....I couldn't believe this chick just abandoned these snakes. The attorney she worked for had them at his office for about a year and then at his home for the last year and a half. She kept saying she was coming back to get them, but never did. He's terrified of snakes and been doing the minimum for them and from what I can gather from research, that was not enough. He asked if I could take them off his hands, so I picked them up two days ago. Even though I have never owned a snake, I couldn't stand the thought of them being neglected and I am willing to give them a happy home.

    I was appalled when I picked them up. They had not been fed in two months. Evidently, she had them on a once a month feeding schedule. They look skinny to me. After reading the guides on this site, it is evident they should have been eating at least every two weeks. They were in a corner of a well air-conditioned room on the floor, with no heat or humidity regulation. I now have the tank with one side heated to 85 degrees and the other 75 degrees and the humidity at 60%.

    After I got them home, I discovered that there are different species in the same cage. It appears I have a Ball Python and two Boa Constrictors. I have another tank being delivered tomorrow to separate the Python, who I named "Fluffy". There is a small Boa and a medium Boa. The small one is super friendly and curious and crawls right up your hand to be held, I named it "Precious". The medium one, I have not really messed with because it has cloudy eyes (which I read means it will shed soon), I did not want to upset it if it's eyesight is impaired, making it defensive, I named it "Cupcake" by the way.
    I feel Cupcake has been neglected the most, because I think it's too skinny (once I get approval from the site to post pics, I will).

    Even though none of them have been handled or worked with in over two years. I had no problem taking them out of the tank and into separate feeding boxes, while I cleaned the tank, which was much needed. My teenage nieces work at a small pet store, and I'm grateful they donated hiding boxes, a branch and a water bowl. They also brought over three mice. I was told the larger snake eats a medium size rat and they two smaller ones eat two mice each, but I was afraid of overdoing it, since they were just moved. I couldn't bear the thought of not feeding them, since it had been so long. Thankfully, they each instantly killed and ate the mice and so far no regurgitation.

    Now for my questions, lol.
    I was not sure if I should feed them again in a few days, a week, or once I see the food passed through them?
    Also, should I give them more mice or gradually work up to more? I want to put them on a regular feeding schedule and make sure I am feeding them the appropriate amount of food, so any thoughts on how often and how much would be great.
    I am going to try to train them to eat pre-killed/frozen food. I do not want them to be injured by food. Any suggestions to help make that transition easier is greatly welcomed.
    The Boas hang out together, I find them sometimes laying on top of each other. But should I separate them too?
    Not idea if they are male or female. Does it make a difference?
    I also have no idea how old they are. Is there any way to tell?
    Also, once I'm allowed to post pics, I'd like some opinions on what type of Boas I have, and what shape you guys think they are in?

    Like I said I am new to snakes and luckily I'm not afraid of them. I have always had a great respect for them and have always thought snakes to be beautiful. My friends and family think I'm crazy for taking them in, lol. But I cannot stand that thought of any animal being abused and neglected. So... any advice on how to give these babies a healthy and happy home would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

    Yes, you should also separate the boas. Each animal should have their own enclosure. Congratulations by the way for stepping in and trying to make the lives of these snakes better. Read the Ultimate Care Guide on here, it is pretty comprehensive and should answer a lot of your questions and help you to set up good temps and humidity for them. As soon as we can see some pictures of your new babies, we can better help you with size of prey and how often to feed them. It's difficult to judge without the photos. If you can, put something next to them for a size reference. Welcome to RTB!
    http://berkeleyknebel.wix.com/mississippimorphs

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    • #3
      Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

      I appreciate how much research you have done You sound to me like you will be an excellent snake parent. Don't get too worried or stressed, because you are doing so much already, and I'm glad you cam to us with questions.

      As Zamora said, it depends on the size of the animals, to determine what their feeding schedule should be. No two snakes grow the same way, so two snakes of the same approximate size and age can sometimes have different feeding schedules. But not always. We can give you a very good guess on their ages based on their size, but their exact age is hard to determine.

      Right now, the most important thing is that your snakes get settled in their new houses. Moving to a new home, with new smells, can be stressful, though each snake reacts to change in environment and feeding schedules differently. Snakes, as well as turtles and lizards, "sit" on each other to display dominance. This is not necessarily "aggression", but it can turn into a sticky situation later. Snakes are naturally solitary. There's also a chance they may try to breed. So yes, separation is best.

      I'm not too worried about your boas taking a liking to their food. If you in fact have a ball python, we can advise you on how to "train" it to accept pre-killed, since ball pythons have a reputation about refusing food (an exaggerated reputation, I might add). Once we have photos of them all, and they each have their own enclosure, I'd say wait 48 hours to feed them. Then put a blanket/cloth over their cages so they can't see a lot of outside movement. I'm worried in a new environment that they could regurgitate their food, and then will have to wait longer to eat again.
      Last edited by theartbook35; 08-01-2015, 07:35 PM. Reason: Typing error.

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      • #4
        Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

        Good on you for taking in these animals. You're doing great research and coming to the right place for help. The folks above have already given you some good advice.

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        • #5
          Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

          The ball python may need to run a bit warmer than the boas, I keep mine at 90*F on the hot side, the cold side is in the mid-70's (room temp). My boas have a hot side at 87-88*F. All three definitely need their own enclosure.

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          • #6
            Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

            Thank you for doing all that you can for these unfortunate snakes. You came to an excellent forum here & we'll help you figure things out.
            As already mentioned, all three should be housed individually, with the ball python having a higher 'warm side' in the cage. Boas look cute "cuddling" together in one cage but actually it causes them stress which can turn
            into health problems if it continues...and if they are male/female, early breeding is something you want to avoid.

            I'd wait about 2 weeks to offer food again (only to those not "in shed" cycle), and DO NOT try to "make up for lost time" as far as their missed meals: if you feed them too much too soon, it will backfire & could be harmful,
            so stick with mice for now, & only gradually increase the size of their pre-killed* prey. (*thank you for understanding how important that is...it's unlikely that the boas will care at all, & hopefully the ball python will accept also)
            It's important not to over-do the size of their meals: one mouse per snake about every 2 weeks (unless in shed) should be fine for some time...expect improvement to be slow.

            No real way to tell the age of a snake...since they were under-fed, they are probably older than they look. Just let them grow slowly to regain their health...be patient. Male/female...doesn't really matter, both are equally-good
            pets. The females usually get larger than the males, but all these will take some time because of their history (lack of proper care). I'm so glad you are there for them, I've taken in many rescues over the years too.

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            • #7
              Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

              Thank you all so much!! With your replies and assurances, I already feel more confident that I can do this. I'm glad I found a place I can turn to for advice. I read the Care Guide and liked it so much that I printed it and put it in a binder, its literally next to the tank just in case. I know, I'm a dork, lol. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist and I really want to give these poor babies the best possible home I can. Especially since they are going to be with me a long time, I never knew snakes lived for decades, but thats pretty cool. I took pictures and tried my best to measure, which is like trying to herd cats. Staying "still" when I want them to is not on their agenda, lol.

              I took your advice and I went ahead and put a small heater under the ball python's hide. One of those one's that stick under the tank. When I held him earlier to try to measure, I didn't like how cold he felt. Maybe thats why he hasn't come out of his hide yet? His new tank arrives tomorrow and I went shopping and bought all that I thought he might need. I'll make sure to keep it warmer. Fluffy is a little over two feet long and sweet as can be. Do ball python's like to climb or stay hidden? Any suggestions on what might make him happiest would be awesome.

              The small boa has already sqriumed her way into my heart. It never fails, anytime I step in the room Precious comes out to greet me. Precious is about three feet long. I didn't take out the bigger Boa to measure her, because I didn't want to stress her out, since her eyesight might be poor. I did take some pictures of Cupcake through the tank for now. She has not been very active. It might just be wishful thinking, but are Boas not active when they are about to shed? She is so skinny, it scares me, you can see her entire spine and I don't think I should be able to. I'm afraid she's not active because she's just weak. But I'll take it slow with her and not be tempted to overfeed. Anyone have an idea of how long it might take to get a Boa back to a healthy weight?

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              • #8
                Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                So, I'm not the next photographer, lol. I added some pictures though.

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                • #9
                  Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                  Welcome to the forum.

                  Congrats on your new snakes and good on you! Lots of great advice given, try not to feel overwhelmed, you are in good hands.

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                  • #10
                    Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                    A general rule of thumb with new snakes is to not handle for a week (even though they're cute and you want to so bad). They are under stress from moving, and if they've been neglected, under stress, period. After a week, feed appropriately sized prey item. It shouldn't be any bigger around than the snake is big around. Wait for a minimum of two to three days for food to digest before handling. Keep boas and pythons separate from each other, handle separately, and even the boas should have their own cage. If not, one of three things happens: everything turns out fine, one eats the other, or you have babies to deal with. So separate for everyone's sake if can. That said, they've been neglected, and a lot of their basic care needs and items need to be added. Go ahead and do that, just keep in mind even good things can be stressful to a neglected snake. If they seem too stressed (getting defensive, striking, hissing, etc) put a blanket on their cage, particularly if in a high traffic area. If have funds, take once a year to an actual reptile vet, not just one who says they are for money or prestige. This is not necessary, but it helps me keep everything on track with mine and I get mine checked out for parasites while I'm there with mine. The vet can answer any complicated health-related or dietary questions you might have. And stay in touch with this forum! they've been here for me for eight years during routine stuff and stuff I'm freaking out over (necessarily or unnecessarily). There's a lot of experience in all these online people and they'll help at the drop of a hat if they can.

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                    • #11
                      Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                      Sounds like you're off to a good start.

                      My concern is: do you have a thermostat on the heat? Sometimes those things will get a little too hot and they need to be regulated with a thermostat.

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                      • #12
                        Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                        Also, ball pythons do climb..but usually they are just really bad at it, lol.

                        As Noelle said, you want to take feeding slow. Their bodies need to adapt to the intake of food and if too large of prey or if offered food too often, the gut flora they currently have won't be able to keep up and it could cause a regurgitation. That will make it even more stressful to their bodies. So, small prey items about every 2-3 weeks right now and about every 3rd or 4th feeding you can increase prey size a tad. Once they start putting weight on you can begin to regulate their feedings to every 10-14 days until they are properly filled out. Then you can back off to a "normal" feeding regimen (this means different things to different people). For us that means not necessarily every 2 weeks. Sometimes we will skip a feed with our sub-adults and adults.

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                        • #13
                          Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                          Congrats on your acquisition of these snakes. Seems to me they are pretty lucky guys!

                          Thank you for your kindness and dedication to their comfort!

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                          • #14
                            Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                            As mentioned, feeding has to be a slow process. Too much food to quickly can cause a serious lack of nutrition, which your snakes don't need right now. It'd be like if you stopped eating every thing in your current diet right now, and started eating all new foods the next day. Your body would not be able to handle that, so you could end up vitamin deficient, or have an excess of vitamins or other nutrients, and the same can happen to a snake, just slower. There's no exact estimate on how long it will take for your snakes to get back to a healthy body weight. Their weight gain is based on their age, size and diet. It won't be a quick weight gain, either, since they have much slower metabolisms than mammals. The metabolism of reptiles in general, takes a little while to get used to, especially since many species don't have to eat every day like we do. I hope my explanation of all that makes sense. In my head it is super fascinating, but to other folks it might not be, lol.

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                            • #15
                              Re: HELP! Never owned a snake and I just rescued three of them.

                              Good job rescuing those poor snakes.

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