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  • [Feeding Issue] Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

    Hey guys!
    I'm a proud owner of 6'6", 7 yr old, male red tail boa named Bubba. I just recently moved him from my house in RI to a new home in Boston. In Rhode Island, he was living in a 60 gallon tank for approximately 5 years and I have now moved him into a new, 125 glass aquarium gallon tank. I have improved this new tank to be both enriching and temp/humidity stable. I currently have three 18" x 11" ExoTerra Desert heat mats, one 250W ceramic bulb, one 15W fluorescent Tropical UV bulb, and the back as well as half of the cover has reflective bubble-wrap for insulation. The previous 60 gallon tank only had a 150W nocturnal infrared heat lamp as the primary heat source.
    It has been two weeks since his last meal. I feed him large pre-killed rats weekly/biweekly, but I never have a problem with him rejecting food. Right before the move, I walked into room to find that his bulb had expired and he was extremely cold to the touch. I quickly got him back to the appropriate temp and placed him in his new environment. I tried feeding him twice now, once at 72hrs post-move, and again 48hr after that. Both times, he has investigated the rat, but refuses it when "danced" in front of him. He seems more active and comfortable than he was in the 60 gallon terrarium.
    How long do snakes typically need to acclimate to a new environment? Does anyone have any advice on how long I can wait before trying to feed him again? Or any suggestions on how to entice him to eat a pre-killed (heated) rat? He's beginning to look thin and I am worried about his overall well-being.

    Any suggestions for humidity control would be helpful too.

  • #2
    Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

    Welcome to RTB.com!

    Moving from one place to another, and one enclosure to another, can be pretty stressful on a boa. It's probably a good idea to just let him settle in for a while, and he'll eat when he's ready. A 7 year old male can go months between meals, so I would just be patient and try every couple weeks until he starts eating again.

    Just keep an eye on temps and humidity, both of which are tough to control in a glass tank. A 125g is a good size and it sounds like you have a good handle on the setup. The majority of members here use some sort of fully enclosed wood or plastic caging, which you might want to take a look into in the future.
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    • #3
      Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

      It is usually a good idea to wait 7+ days after changing enclosures before offering food.

      Also, could it be that he is full? A large rat every week or two might be a bit much depending on your snake. I'm feeding my 6 month old an adult mouse every 12-15 days depending on how fast he digests food.

      Food being fed should be the girth of the snake. I thought that males of 6' in length were usually around the size of medium rats. Every snake is different. I know a 6'2" female weighing 30 pounds almost 20 years old who eats a large rat every 20 days.

      Either way I don't think you should be worried about him not eating as long as you give him the chance to eat every couple weeks like said above. I would only start to worry if it has been 3 months. You can also try leaving the dead prey in the cage over night. If it has been a couple months you can try rubbing some chicken as poultry can kick start their feed response, but that being said if you do that he might go into feed mode anytime you pull out raw chicken.

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      • #4
        Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

        Even with the best of intentions, you just shook up his whole world. Trying not to prejudge, but most boas are on the heavy side anyway- I'd expect to wait a few weeks for him to settle in & feel like eating again.
        It's best NOT to keep offering...it only frustrates both of you. Personally I'd wait until he acts hungry.

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        • #5
          Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

          Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
          It's best NOT to keep offering...it only frustrates both of you. Personally I'd wait until he acts hungry.
          This. A seven year old six+ foot male BCI on large rats shouldn't be fed more often than every 3-4 weeks anyway. It's also typical for adult males to go off food for 3-4 months during the winter breeding season, and if your guy was cool for a while he may be looking for a female more than a rat right now.

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          • #6
            Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

            Two weeks isn't long at all... Don't sweat it. I'd give him another week or two before offering another meal. My nine foot female eats less than once a month.

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            • #7
              Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

              Thanks for the great advice! I was regularly feeding him every 3-4 weeks for awhile, but he was looking extremely thin and was acting hungry. I decided to pick up the frequency of his feeding schedule and he has not declined a single meal. If anything, he was more than eager to accept them. Should I not be feeding him so frequently? He is definitely not an obese animal, if anything, I believe he looks a bit too lean.
              Ironically, I attempted feeding him again the other night and he barely even allowed me to get too far into the new enclosure without snatching the rat out of my hand.

              Once again, thank you all for your support and great advice!

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              • #8
                Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                Originally posted by ClumsyVelociraptor View Post
                he was looking extremely thin
                Snap some pictures of him and post them on here and then we can let you know if he looks lean to us. I have one snake that refused food for 7 months and didn't lose too much weight, put it right back on when she decided to eat again.
                http://berkeleyknebel.wix.com/mississippimorphs

                Photo credit:Eddie Ard .....Banner Credit:Big PaPa Ernest

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                • #9
                  Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                  A Boa should be rectangular in shape, not round. So a nice lean boa constrictor bodybuilder would look like [] not like ()

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                  • #10
                    Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                    Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
                    A Boa should be rectangular in shape, not round. So a nice lean boa constrictor bodybuilder would look like [] not like ()
                    LOL exactly this! Also how much do those "large rats" weigh? I've noticed a pretty wide disparity between suppliers, even my own local one has a wide range on the large/jumbo rats, so the larger boas and retics get fed based on feeder weight - for both rabbits and rats - instead of "thickness of the snake".

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                    • #11
                      Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                      Originally posted by ClumsyVelociraptor View Post
                      .... I attempted feeding him again the other night and he barely even allowed me to get too far into the new enclosure without snatching the rat out of my hand....
                      Pretty please use blunt-ended feeding tongs, preferably 18" or longer? Glad he's settled down now, but can you imagine waking up in a strange house with no way to go home & no idea how you got there? LOL

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                      • #12
                        Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                        I usually find these large rats to weigh anywhere from 325-400 g. They definitely aren't equal to his girth, most of the time.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                          I'll make sure to snap a couple of photos with him this afternoon and share them with you here! Thanks!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                            Originally posted by ClumsyVelociraptor View Post
                            I usually find these large rats to weigh anywhere from 325-400 g. They definitely aren't equal to his girth, most of the time.
                            So, 11-13 ounces. Feed every 3-4 weeks. If he needs larger prey you can alternate with or switch over to rabbits, as the larger rats are often retired breeders which have a high fat content. Pythons can handle them ok but boas need less fat and more protein in their diets.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Snake in a New Tank Won't Eat

                              A *large* rat weighing 300+ grams??? I get XLs for my biggest girl, and they consistently weigh in at 250g-300g. That seems pretty large to me, especially at an every 2 week interval. In addition, I slow my feeding way down in winter, going 4-6 weeks between feedings for adults. I can't imagine a 6.5' boa growing thin on a 300+ gram rat every 3-4 weeks. They just don't have the metabolism to do so.

                              RR_20 (Mike)

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