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  • [Eyes/Mouth] Broken Jaw?

    Help. Have real serious issue. Just took Silk to vet because it is May and Silk is not interested in her XXX-large rats, but she will eat small rats the ball python doesn't want. Silk normally does not eat between October-November and March-April. I tried everything I could to get her to eat her large rats. Given a choice between the large rat or the small rat, she'll go for the small one every time. The vet diagnosed her with a broken jaw, probably from her having yanked herself off my shoulder and smacked her head on the cement several months ago. At the time, she seemed fine and nothing wrong. But now this. The vet said take her home, feed her the small rats only, nothing else. Except a vitamin supplement. And she gave me an anti-inflammatory. The only thing I could find on line is not positive. It recommends an x-ray, and if the jaw's broken tube feeding. It said euthanasia is recommended due to pain and stress. Is this latter true? Or what the vet told me. I'm devastated.

  • #2
    Re: Broken Jaw?

    Is your vet experienced with herps? If so, you need to listen to your vet...it would be irresponsible for us to advise you here on such a serious matter as we are NOT seeing the snake as your vet did.

    I do think that (in ALL creatures) some breaks are mild & some more severe...it sounds as if your vet expects this to heal with time, TLC, eating only small prey CAREFULLY & the vitamins & anti-inflammatory as prescribed.

    In addition, a snake that's willing to eat is not (apparently?) overwhelmed with pain...so personally, I'd remain hopeful that the vet's advice here is the right path. Feed small with as much time (rest!!!) between feedings as
    you can. Tube-feeding is an option but would be stressful if you're inexperienced with the techniques. I've had tons of practice tube-feeding snakes over many years, so in all honesty, that's what I'd personally be doing,
    but I think it's best that you follow your vet's advice for now. This is not the time to learn tube-feeding, as the snake may fight you on this & end up opening her mouth in a way that would further aggravate the injury.

    I so hope your snake makes a good recovery...she's eating so give it a shot, and whatever you do, don't be in any rush to "super-size" her meals.

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    • #3
      Re: Broken Jaw?

      I live in Barstow, Ca and don't know much about this vet other than she's local, sees reptiles, and is better than the other two vets in town. So I'm prone to second-guess the vet because of this. I don't want to put Silk down and I honestly don't think she's in any pain unless she's eating. And the anti-inflammatory is supposed to help with that. Thanks for the reassurance. I feel such an idiot for letting her drop like I did.

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      • #4
        Re: Broken Jaw?

        Well either stay the course (follow the advice) or find another vet or specialist that's not so local. I'd take heart from the fact she is willing to eat...just feed "small" at the greatest possible intervals for a while...she
        won't starve! Resting her jaw so it can heal is crucial now.

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        • #5
          Re: Broken Jaw?

          Well I would say listen to your vet. But it sound like a very painful drop to smack the ground. Even when the littlest things happen. We should always use or be caution because what we think may not hurt them, theirs always a chance that it can be more serious then we think. Mishandling a snake can make us feel some type of way, once something starts to go wrong. But I hope your snake has a healthy and speedy recovery from the injury
          sigpicJrock23

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          • #6
            Re: Broken Jaw?

            Originally posted by marya1962 View Post
            So I'm prone to second-guess the vet because of this. I don't want to put Silk down and I honestly don't think she's in any pain unless she's eating.
            If you're unsure of a veterinarian's advice, seek a second opinion from another veterinarian.

            As for pain, have you ever broken a bone? Snakes really don't have any way to show how they're feeling. If it's swollen, it hurts. If her behavior is affected, it hurts. That doesn't mean you should put her down, though. Snakes are amazing healers. If she's still willing to eat, I'd keep offering her smaller prey and give her the anti inflammatories.


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            -Sean in NoCal
            “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
            -Teddy Roosevelt.

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            • #7
              Re: Broken Jaw?

              If the vet didn't do an x-ray then how did she diagnose a broken jaw?

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              • #8
                Re: Broken Jaw?

                Well, it was quite by accident. The vet thought it might be arthritis of the jaw that was shifting her muscle use to the back of her head and letting the facial muscles get flabby from lack of use. But when Silk dislocated her jaw and bit herself, the vet found while examining her further that the bone of Silk's lower jaw was bending in the middle. And it was not supposed to. And then I recalled having dropped Silk six to eight months previously. She landed very heavily on her outstretched head. At the time, nothing untoward seemed to develop so I thought she was okay at the time. And Silk went into her yearly fast. It wasn't until May that we discovered all she would eat were small rats. The lack of x-ray is one thing that makes me want to question the vet, too. Why not prescribe an x-ray? I don't know.

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                • #9
                  Re: Broken Jaw?

                  Sounds to me like an x-ray wasn't really necessary (since she was able to feel & see the issue) and would have added greatly to your cost as well. Some vets offer & ask, others make a silent judgement call as
                  to what will serve your purpose the best. But if you have more questions for her, there is nothing wrong with calling the office...most vets will either answer you by coming to the phone (or calling back when it's
                  convenient for them) or communicating their answers to you through their staff.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Broken Jaw?

                    Yeah. I'm going to go back next week to the vet. I'm like really worried. I don't want her to be in pain. And today she didn't eat. I think when she dislocated her jaw, she broke the lower one again somehow, so now she doesn't want to eat. I'm willing just to let her fast but...

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                    • #11
                      Re: Broken Jaw?

                      Originally posted by marya1962 View Post
                      Yeah. I'm going to go back next week to the vet. I'm like really worried. I don't want her to be in pain. And today she didn't eat. I think when she dislocated her jaw, she broke the lower one again somehow, so now she doesn't want to eat. I'm willing just to let her fast but...
                      How big (& how old) is this snake? I'm assuming she's an adult, as you said the vet first wondered about arthritis and also that you've been feeding her gigantic rats.... An adult boa can go a LONG while without
                      eating and without ill effect provided she is starting from a place of healthy weight...under the circumstances, I'd want her to be resting her jaw (so the bones can "knit") anyway. I would not have offered her food
                      today...I know you feel bad about this & only want to help but you need to back off and let the snake rest & heal. Do ask the vet how long she expects the healing of her jaw to take? (you might be looking at an x-ray
                      later then, to verify how well it has healed-) She may not have made it worse but it's probably sore & doesn't feel right. She needs to rest her jaw, not move it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Broken Jaw?

                        Silk is only eight years old which was pretty young for arthritis. She is kind of smallish, only about seven foot long. She now weighs 20 pounds, having been almost 23 pounds when she started fasting in October. The vet had recommended trying to get her to eat before I brought her back in next week. Only the vet wanted me to get vitamin powder, put it in capsules, and "enrich" the rat-which I hadn't done today because everything's on order. But seeing how she reacted to the rat (burying her head in her coils) I'm not going to try feeding her again until I at least talk to the vet again. She is definitely not feeling like her normal self.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Broken Jaw?

                          Health food stores generally have multivitamin pills that you could put in a dead rodent when feeding time comes. A vet I met once suggested looking for a brand with vitamin D3 instead of just D or D2 because reptiles metabolize D3 better than D2. That is the one that is important for bone growth.

                          Another possibility is to take the water away for a few days and put a milliliter of a good liquid bird multivitamin in the water. Then stick the snake's nose in the water and see if she will drink the mixture.

                          Best of luck with your boa.
                          Last edited by paulh; 05-08-2015, 12:24 PM. Reason: added paragraph about liquid vitamins.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Broken Jaw?

                            Originally posted by paulh View Post
                            Health food stores generally have multivitamin pills that you could put in a dead rodent when feeding time comes. A vet I met once suggested looking for a brand with vitamin D3 instead of just D or D2 because reptiles metabolize D3 better than D2. That is the one that is important for bone growth.

                            Another possibility is to take the water away for a few days and put a milliliter of a good liquid bird multivitamin in the water. Then stick the snake's nose in the water and see if she will drink the mixture.

                            Best of luck with your boa.
                            Personally I'd NOT advise using a human multivitamin supplement for reptiles...as the proportions might be harmful to them??? At least not without doing a LOT more research & not overdosing, & I gotta say I'd rather
                            just buy a reptile (or bird?) vitamin to be safe. You don't want to damage your snakes liver or kidneys with a toxic level of something that's good for us but NOT for them??? Look at all the foods that are harmless to
                            humans but toxic to our dogs? -and remember, we are both warm-blooded creatures. Snakes/reptiles are much different & have different needs. I'd be cautious..."first do no harm..."

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                            • #15
                              Re: Broken Jaw?

                              It was supposed to be reptile multivitamin powder. I get empty gel capsules at the drug store, then put the multivitamin powder in the gel caps. There's no way I'd use avian or human vitamins. Or a reptile multivitamin "capsule" more than once every two weeks. That would be too risky. But with her not eating, "enriched" rats aren't going to work. I don't think liquefying the powder and putting it down the side of her throat's going to work either. I'm already freaking out giving her anti-inflammatory that way. I worry about it getting down her epiglottis all the time. Right now all I can do for her is let her cuddle with my son and me, or in her blankie on the sofa. She really doesn't want to be in her cage by herself.

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