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Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

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  • [General Care] Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

    Okay, the vet said Silk should be eating rabbits because of her size and dietary concerns that triple x rats are too fatty (being the old, fat breeders being culled due to old age). He said that it might help with her lack of interest in her food. She is seven foot and about four to five inches around. She's lost six pounds since last October. My problem is that she is choosing to eat nothing but small rats this year, if anything. Her fast started in October of last year and she's not really come out of it except for five small rats this year (she has actually refused everything else every other time I gave her something). The time before this I actually tricked her into eating a triple x by putting it in her mouth when she was eating a small rat we had to run the shower to get her to eat (I know! Not appropriate! Power feeding! Etc. But I was desperate.) Last feeding I even used a live rat which she properly constricted before she ate (that's the most enthusiasm I've seen out of her a feeding time for a while). At the time she should be packing on some weight because her fast will start again in October-November as it does every year, she's not interested. The vet could find nothing wrong with her. She still won't donate blood out of her tail for testing. My question is should I feed her small, three pound bunnies? Will this help with her lack of interest in food? Should I try them live first, then switch back to f/t? Or do fresh killed? And how often should I feed them to her? Are they really better nutritionally than triple x rats? I'm asking because I double-check everything any vet tells me these days because I've really had an expertise problem with the vets in my area and actually gotten bad advice which could have killed my snake from one vet. Call me vet-shy, I guess.

  • #2
    Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

    I agree with your vet that "triple-X" rats are full of fat & not healthy for your boa (or any other boa) to eat, but I'll leave the rest of your questions to others, as I've never fed any rabbits to the BCI I kept.

    You mean (I assume?) that her diameter is 4-5", not "4-5 inches around"??? there's a HUGE difference!?* And you say she lost 6 lbs but what does she actually weigh now?
    (*If my assumption is correct, she sounds somewhat over-weight to me?) Can you post pics so we can better advise you? (showing her mid-body, not her face & all-) Maybe she's truly
    not hungry?

    And by the way, when my BCI was 7.5' long, she was about 13-14 lbs, very solid & healthy, with a good appetite. I fed her small, medium & large rats varied, with medium most often.
    It's possible your snake knows better than you do when it's too much food.

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    • #3
      Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

      Having no experience with rabbits as feeders, I was discussing this with a breeder. He told me he that never feeds live. He said that the rabbits can do extensive damage to your snake due to the claws on their very powerful rear legs.

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      • #4
        Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

        Post a picture.

        If there is nothing wrong with the snake I'd wait it out. If she is eating nothing but small rats that's probably all she needs.

        If there is nothing wrong with the husbandry, and the snake has a clean bill of health sometimes less is more.

        Boa constrictors were designed to survive on very little food.

        If your snake was overweight, losing 6 pounds is not a bad thing.

        The reason royal pythons live so long is because they shut down and regulate their food intake.

        How old is the snake, and are you certain it's a female and not a sexually mature male?

        IF your BC gets hungry, she will eat.

        If the area down by the tail is fat and not laterally compressed, you may have an overweight snake.

        These are all assumptions and without a few photos, that's probably all you will get.

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        • #5
          Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

          My question is how old is she? Current weight? And where do you get your feeders from. 3x rats can be an issue, but they also have the same fat content as a comparable rabbit. I'd try backing her down to jumbo or large rats unless you have a budget that can support 2 lb rabbits. If you need a good rabbit suppliers PM me. I know of a few throughout the country that may be amenable to your situation.


          Tim

          http://www.facebook.com/BoidsOhio?bookmark_t=page


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          • #6
            Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

            Originally posted by marya1962 View Post
            Okay, the vet said Silk should be eating rabbits because of her size and dietary concerns that triple x rats are too fatty (being the old, fat breeders being culled due to old age). He said that it might help with her lack of interest in her food. She is seven foot and about four to five inches around. She's lost six pounds since last October. My problem is that she is choosing to eat nothing but small rats this year, if anything. Her fast started in October of last year and she's not really come out of it except for five small rats this year (she has actually refused everything else every other time I gave her something). The time before this I actually tricked her into eating a triple x by putting it in her mouth when she was eating a small rat we had to run the shower to get her to eat (I know! Not appropriate! Power feeding! Etc. But I was desperate.) Last feeding I even used a live rat which she properly constricted before she ate (that's the most enthusiasm I've seen out of her a feeding time for a while). At the time she should be packing on some weight because her fast will start again in October-November as it does every year, she's not interested. The vet could find nothing wrong with her. She still won't donate blood out of her tail for testing. My question is should I feed her small, three pound bunnies? Will this help with her lack of interest in food? Should I try them live first, then switch back to f/t? Or do fresh killed? And how often should I feed them to her? Are they really better nutritionally than triple x rats? I'm asking because I double-check everything any vet tells me these days because I've really had an expertise problem with the vets in my area and actually gotten bad advice which could have killed my snake from one vet. Call me vet-shy, I guess.
            IMO a three pound rabbit would be way too big. That's the size I'm currently giving my 13 foot long reticulated python. I also would never feed a live rabbit, as their claws are incredibly long and sharp.

            I have a seven foot female about the same length and girth as yours that gets a 24-oz rabbit once a month and she is fine on that size. It will look small compared to a rat but there is more muscle and bone in that rabbit than in a jumbo/retired breeder rat of similar weight.

            I have a few boas exhibiting hunger and hunting behavior that refuse rabbits but will take a rat instantly. I have some that will take either. So, don't be surprised if yours decides not to eat the rabbit, not all snakes will switch to them.

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            • #7
              Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

              Originally posted by bcr_229 View Post
              IMO a three pound rabbit would be way too big. That's the size I'm currently giving my 13 foot long reticulated python. I also would never feed a live rabbit, as their claws are incredibly long and sharp.

              I have a seven foot female about the same length and girth as yours that gets a 24-oz rabbit once a month and she is fine on that size. It will look small compared to a rat but there is more muscle and bone in that rabbit than in a jumbo/retired breeder rat of similar weight.

              I have a few boas exhibiting hunger and hunting behavior that refuse rabbits but will take a rat instantly. I have some that will take either. So, don't be surprised if yours decides not to eat the rabbit, not all snakes will switch to them.

              I like this advice,

              I'll add that there is no rule, saying every meal has to be the same size, or for that matter the same prey item. I've been chatting with other BC folks and it seems a little variety is acceptable and favored by many if the availability is there.

              My 6 footer will only get a rabbit that is just under, or up to 1 pound, however, I feed him something that would be considered "undersized" a month after the rabbit. Typically I use a "feast/famine" style of feeding and follow seasonal changes outlined in some of Gus Rentfro's writings.

              My fella has to be VERY hungry to take rabbits. He typically prefers rats and quail but as bcr_229 stated, rabbits have more muscle and bone.

              Another factor to remember is all captive bred prey is going to be fatter than wild prey, and captive boas will be fatter than wild boas unless managed for health.

              tsblair and I asked about age, and I still think it's something to look at.

              Assuming there are no health issues, and the husbandry is up to snuff, you can certainly wait it out and feed when the snake exhibits hunting behavior. Or if you like to feed more often stick with the smaller prey.

              Just one more question;

              Are all signs of the previous meals gone prior to the next feeding, as in all waste eliminated?

              I'm sure this isn't your first rodeo so take everything here as discussion topic as you may have a system that works for you.

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              • #8
                Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                For what it's worth, I have fed a ten pound rabbit to an eight foot boa constrictor. It was a big meal but was taken without too much trouble.

                An XL rat would be approximately 1 pound in weight. I would not feed a rabbit bigger than that to the OP's boa. Not because the snake could not take something larger but because the snake has been fasting. I'd prefer not to strain the snake's system.

                How warm is the cage? I've seen snakes that would turn feeding on and off like a switch with a one degree Fahrenheit change in cage temperature.

                Is this snake a breeder female? If so, she may benefit from a vitamin supplement, as in the tip below. I've used it on boa constrictors and Burmese pythons with no noticeable ill effect.

                ----------

                Tips

                To inprove the condition of captive snakes try using Solovite vitamin-mineral tablets. Sluggish appetites have been improved with routine use of this supplement.

                Dosage: Not to be used in animals of two (2) lbs. or less.

                1 tablet / 40 pounds once every two (2) weeks.

                For animals of lesser or greater weight, regulate the time rather than the dosage.

                ex. A 10 pound snake would get one (1) tablet every eight weeks.

                This product is available at health food stores or from Solgar Co., Inc., Lynbrook, N.Y. 11563.

                - Natl. Assoc. for Sound Wildlife Progs. Newsl. 1(2): 7. (Oct-Nov 1977)

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                • #9
                  Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                  Silk is entering her eighth year. She fasts from October-November to April-May every year despite UTHs and ceramic heaters and stuff. In summer, the house temps get a bit warm-up to one hundred F. We keep her cage door open, run fans thru her cage, provide frozen water bottles wrapped in towel, cool baths, the whole works. We do this every year. The only thing that changed is that we moved to a different apartment in December of last year. My major concern is her six pound weight loss. If her metabolism slowed down so she needs less food, she shouldn't be losing weight so fast. She's only a little less than nineteen pounds and is usually 25. I noticed her having difficulty with eating her triple x last time so were going to downgrade to large and see if that helps. Currently feeding live- can't do fresh killed. My son won't touch the rats he feels sorry for and no matter how hard I wring necks or hit on ground or wall, they don't stun or die for me-I just end up torturing them.

                  Sent from my LGLS740 using Tapatalk

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                  • #10
                    Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                    P.S. Silk is not a breeder but a "pet".She eliminates every three days to a week depending on prey size.

                    Sent from my LGLS740 using Tapatalk

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                    • #11
                      Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                      Silk is way heavier than my BCI was at the same length, just saying. In my opinion you should not worry about her appetite...she does not need as much food as she has been eating. A medium to large rat every
                      3 weeks should be plenty of food for her (even with some winter fasting), though it's asking for injuries by feeding her live. I am sorry that is your choice.

                      If that was my snake, I'd wait for her to be hungry enough to take a dead (f/t or fresh-killed) rat and not lose one bit of sleep over the delay or over any "weight-loss"...I think you'd be doing her a favor, and I don't
                      believe it will take as long as you might think.

                      P.S. there's much better ways to 'off' the rats for "fresh-killed" too, btw....I hope you'll reconsider feeding live?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                        Originally posted by marya1962 View Post
                        Silk is entering her eighth year. She fasts from October-November to April-May every year despite UTHs and ceramic heaters and stuff. In summer, the house temps get a bit warm-up to one hundred F. We keep her cage door open, run fans thru her cage, provide frozen water bottles wrapped in towel, cool baths, the whole works. We do this every year. The only thing that changed is that we moved to a different apartment in December of last year. My major concern is her six pound weight loss. If her metabolism slowed down so she needs less food, she shouldn't be losing weight so fast. She's only a little less than nineteen pounds and is usually 25. I noticed her having difficulty with eating her triple x last time so were going to downgrade to large and see if that helps. Currently feeding live- can't do fresh killed. My son won't touch the rats he feels sorry for and no matter how hard I wring necks or hit on ground or wall, they don't stun or die for me-I just end up torturing them.

                        Sent from my LGLS740 using Tapatalk
                        I don't like the "Having difficulty" part of the post.

                        Is it possible she took a bite from the live rat and there is a wound inside the mouth?

                        If it is a rapid weight loss and she is not able to eat you should bring here to a reptile vet just in case something is up.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                          I checked her over very carefully after both live rats-DO NOT LIKE FEEDING LIVE! Right now it is the only way I can get her interested in eating, period. And I can't whack the rats to stun or kill them because it doesn't work for me; I end up torturing the rat while it screams and struggles-it's horrid. Even trying to break the neck doesn't work for me. I don't know why, it just doesn't. Neither of the two bit her anywhere, not in her mouth and definitely not on her body; no scratches either. I made sure of that. She had difficulty in that she backed off from the rat and I had to re-present it to her three times. I will downsize the rat next time. The X-rays showed nothing broken in her jaw area but there was a white spot on the bottom right the vet didn't know what it was. That white spot concerns me and I want to try a vet in Hesperia for a third opinion but I'm flat broke right now. The bunny deal fell thru-no bunny. If and when I get bunnies now they will be f/t. She could be a male; she's never been officially sexed and she's small for a female at 7 foot. She weighs 18.7 lbs and looks skinny. Everyone comments on how skinny she looks. She doesn't have starvation markings, however. I'm feeding her every three to four weeks and most times she won't eat at all, even if I present her with a small f/t. If I insist she hides her head and refuses. The live has been the only time she has showed immediate interest and hunger, otherwise we have to go through a lot of zombie rat dance to get her remotely interested in f/t. If we just lay it down in the tub, turn the light off and leave her with it, she goes to the other side of the tub. Last time we presented f/t we only got her interested in eating by running the shower! This is even with re-heating it several times. Live has been the only thing that worked really well and fast.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                            I'm going to second the request for a picture.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Rabbits or no Rabbits? How often should I feed them to Silk?

                              Okay, I'll try to do a picture. The last time we couldn't post it. I'll try when I have access to my laptop. Right now I'm at least an hour and a half away from it. I think she looks fine, but a little, little skinny, especially with fasting season coming up in two or three months.

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