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  • [Feeding Issue] Getting Vahka to eat.

    So she's about nine years old. I've had her for about 4. I've only ever seen her strike twice. Usually, I have to leave her food in a container with her for a couple hours before she eats it. She never coils, just eats it. All I've ever fed her is fresh kill/frozen rats, and chicken. Since she's been sick, I haven't been able to get her to eat. I had to assist feed once but she's just not showing interest in food. I've tried brain smearing, and dangling, but she shows no interest at all. It's like she doesn't' want to eat with me in the room, but if it's just sitting there, she has no interest in it anymore. Any suggestions?

    Her tank is at 80 degrees, and humidity is kept at 60% like it's always been.

  • #2
    Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

    Originally posted by TheJackal View Post
    Her tank is at 80 degrees
    Maybe it is not warm enough for her. From what I understand and have been reading, 80 would be too cool for a boa. A hot spot of 90 is preferred and a gradient to about 78 on the cool side is ideal. Maybe bump up the heat and try again next week. But, lets see what other more experienced keepers would suggest.

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    • #3
      Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

      80 is her avg temp. Her hot spot is much closer to 90, while the cool dips into the upper seventies.

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      • #4
        Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

        How long ago did you feed her chicken? Most chicken has salmonella contamination, & while cooking will take care of that for us, I'd assume you fed it raw. You should take a stool sample to the vet, along with her.
        How long has she been refusing food? Do her stools look funky or normal? Also keep in mind that commercially-raised chicken has been fed antibiotics & hormones...and while these don't cause (obvious) issues for us,
        who knows what effect they might have on a snake? I'd ask the vet about possibly dosing her with probiotics (such as Benebac for snakes), & since she's not eating, that would probably have to be tube-fed.

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        • #5
          Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

          I've fed chicken and rats as long as I've had her. It's always been raw and freshly thawed. So I know she's okay with the meat. Maybe my luck has run out and as you say, it's started getting to her. Her stools have been fine, she's still letting out urates, semi regularly as well as small amounts of feces.

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          • #6
            Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

            Originally posted by TheJackal View Post
            I've fed chicken and rats as long as I've had her. It's always been raw and freshly thawed. So I know she's okay with the meat. Maybe my luck has run out and as you say, it's started getting to her. Her stools have been fine, she's still letting out urates, semi regularly as well as small amounts of feces.
            I dunno...just trying to guess what could be going on. I don't know her history (even before you had her): how long has she been "sick"?

            Another drawback to feeding chicken*...(*I assume you mean parts?*) is that it's not the whole animal...so it's not a 'balanced' diet. Again, the gut bacteria of the prey as well as all the "other stuff"
            (including the undigestible roughage) is missing when a snake is fed chicken parts.

            And obviously I'm not seeing her either (so don't take this the wrong way) but maybe she is over-fed and just not hungry? Pet snakes are rather inactive, compared to wild ones. Helps to know how
            long she's had these issues...also, maybe she is much older than what the source told you and just slowing down? Have you considered that? (& some age faster than others anyway)

            I really do think a vet visit might be the best...

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            • #7
              Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

              I'll try to give you something more detailed.

              Until now, she's had zero health issues that I know about. About 4 months ago she developed a URI. Took her to a vet, she was on antibiotics for a while and got a b12 injection to stimulate appetite. She's much better now. She's got her energy back and is otherwise acting very healthy for about a month now. Grand total, she didn't eat for about 6 months which I know isn't dangerous. I did assist feed her once, but I really don't wanna do that again.

              As far as feeding her parts compared to full animals, I feed her a mix. Primarily she does eat large rats, but from time to time she'll eat a chicken breast. I should've been more clear on this. It's not her primary diet but she has eaten it here and there since i've had her.


              I'll bring her back to the vet again if I have to, but I'm really trying to avoid that. I guess at this point it might be a good idea. I'll try to feed her one more time in a couple weeks, and if she doesn't I'll bring her in.

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              • #8
                Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                How much and how often had she been eating before she started fasting?
                Sometimes boas do go off food over the winter / breeding season, though this is more common with males than females. When did she last eat?
                Can you post a picture of her?

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                • #9
                  Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                  she ate every two weeks before she got sick. I've got some pictures up on this thread.

                  http://www.redtailboas.com/f18/new-p...uestion-73166/

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                  • #10
                    Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                    My Silk stops eating about October or November and doesn't eat again till March or April. My rule of thumb is if she doesn't eat by the beginning of May, she'll be taken to the vet. But the ball python, Hurly, goes off food, there's something wrong to deal with ASAP. So you really have to know your snake. Is there a gut feeling there's something wrong? If there is, take the snake in.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                      Originally posted by TheJackal View Post
                      she ate every two weeks before she got sick....
                      Hard to judge her weight (relative to length) from pix...but at 9 years old, and especially in winter, feeding every 2 weeks is probably too much food. I wouldn't offer food until 3-4 weeks under the circumstances, and
                      maybe then you'll get a better response? I hope it's something simple like that anyway...

                      Have you looked her over real well for any abnormal lumps or body swellings*...something asymmetrical? From your first post it sounds as if she's never been a very good feeder...is it possible that in her previous home
                      she got injured internally somehow? (*also look for any areas that are slightly caved-in looking...sometimes only when the snake moves a certain way. Broken ribs can do that, for example.)

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                      • #12
                        Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                        she's roughly 6.5 feet, and about 11 lbs. She does have a lump which the vet says is probably a broken rib or two, but she's always had it. No other abnormalities. When I got her, I knew almost nothing about snakes (was my wife's department at the time), so I didn't know what questions to ask about her feeding habbits. All I know is that she's always eaten frozen or fresh kill. I'm giving her another week and a half before I try to feed her again. if she doesn't eat still, I'll bring her into the vet.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                          Her weight sounds about right to me. Fingers crossed for her!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                            Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                            Hard to judge her weight (relative to length) from pix...but at 9 years old, and especially in winter, feeding every 2 weeks is probably too much food. I wouldn't offer food until 3-4 weeks under the circumstances, and maybe then you'll get a better response? I hope it's something simple like that anyway.
                            That was my thought. I have a female about the same size, just a bit younger. She eats an XL rat every four weeks, and usually doesn't much in the way of hunting behavior until after three weeks.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Getting Vahka to eat.

                              [Update] We have Success! Offered her a large rat today, and she took it without much hesitation. Guess it was the weather after all. Been warmer this past week. It still amazes me that they can tell the seasons even in a climate controlled apartment.

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