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my new boa is "unresponsive"

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  • [Behavior] my new boa is "unresponsive"

    hey guys
    I'm from Egypt and this is my first snake ( I have handled few before but my raising experience is almost zero but I am trying to learn fast)

    I am posting this before introducing myself because I am kinda concerned about my new boa
    it might be nothing but I am new to this and better safe than sorry (specially when it comes to life)
    this is Caramel

    Cage Temps: 27-34 Celcius (thats for the warm side, the cold side is about 7-10 degrees less)
    Humidity: not measured at the moment but fairly high
    How long have you owned this animal: 11 days I believe
    How long has this issue been occuring: just today
    How often does this issue occur:
    What type of heating/thermostat system do you use: I use warm wire that I control with a dimmer beneath half the enclosure

    I have her in transparent box with holes at the top, newspapers for substrate and for cover, bowl of water, change water daily and clean bowl each two days. the box is aprox 30*50cm so I plan on upgrading, bought the box but haven't set it up yet
    bought her 11 days ago like mentioned, by an estimate of a friend she is about 6-7 months, 75cm long aprox.
    fed her twice, small live mouse 3 days after I got her and a defrosted chick last Sunday

    so the issue is (and I can be worried for nothing) is this morning I got her out of her enclosure like I do everyday for "handling" and bit of exercise but to my surprise she barely moved, moved a bit when I was holding her but I put her on my leg and she remain like I put her exactly, picked up again and when I was putting her down she kinda held to my hand, by the time i got my hand loose she was stretched across my lap, her entire length was stretch yet she didn't move at leave at all (which is very unusual, she normally move about a bit then after a while comes and "snuggles" between me and the arm of the chair)
    also there is that thing that she did today more than usual, I don't know the proper name for it but I have seen snakes do it when they are scared or tense, expansion of body and contracting, kinda like our chests when we breathe heavily.

    I got her with me before I started typing this post and actually she is more active, moved about a bit then sat in a tight spot (between me and chair arm)

    side note: her scales seem kinda saggy since I got her, her previous owner is much more experienced than me but I am not sure how things were with him

    like I said it could be nothing but I wanted to get feedback and see if there is anything I can do even if not necessarily related to this

    I am not sure what to look for exactly so please let me know

    PS: when I was posting I got logged off and the autosave only recovered parts of this post and I forgot some of what I actually wrote

  • #2
    Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

    Snakes aren't like dogs. They don't expend a lot of energy. In fact, they will remain almost completely motionless for days on end. They are masters of energy conservation.

    What you are describing seems to me like a classic stress response. Leave her be for a couple of days and cut back on handling time for a bit. See how that goes and if there are any changes.

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


    • #3
      Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

      If I'm understanding your information, you've only had her 11 days but have already fed her twice and handle her daily?

      She needed to be left alone to settle in first (preferably) for 1 or 2 weeks. THEN offered food, about every 10 days & not handled after feeding for a day or two (so she doesn't regurgitate her meals-)

      Snakes that are in new homes are's best not to add to that by rushing things like feeding or handling. And please don't feed live rodents, they can & do bite, causing damage or death to snakes.

      It's even more dangerous when you switch between live & pre-killed food, as the snake may let down their guard just a bit. As was already mentioned, boas aren't normally real active unless searching for food

      out of hunger, so that's probably why she is lethargic. Let her digest in peace. Welcome to the site here, glad to have you.


      • #4
        Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

        On your temperatures - cool should be 25-26*C, warm should be 32-34*F. Your warm side is swinging too much if it's cycling between 27-34*F.

        What is the humidity in the enclosure?


        • #5
          Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

          Originally posted by bcr_229 View Post
          What is the humidity in the enclosure?
          They said they couldn't measure it currently.


          • #6
            Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

            thanks a lot everyone!!

            by night she was acting kinda normal but just in case I will dial it back on the contact as suggested
            any reason why this happened now and not before? I mean could it have been a build up or could something specifically wrong have happened?

            I fed relatively small mouse (to her feeding capacity) after I got her because the previous owner told me last time she ate was about 10 days, so combined with the three days I had her was almost 2 weeks. I was told to wait about 5-6 more days and feed her the chick which is supposedly her regular sized meal. it's clear now I shouldn't listen to everything I am told.

            also I never handle her right after eating, I let 24 hours at least pass, I read to handle after 1 or 2 days, I chose 1 because I wanted to hold her which is bit selfish on my part :/

            as for temperature I can't control it better than that now, trying to figure it out.
            like I mentioned I am using a wire passed underneath the box in 3 passes that extends halfway along the length of the box. the room itself is not heated so I have to control with the dimmer but it ends up fluctuating from time to time between day and night
            whats baffling me is the other end (the cool one) is always at room temp, I would have imagined heat would reach it considering the size of the box but never does.
            I end up moving the box from time to time to cool and warm the temp inside. and she does regulate, but at best i am wasting most of the space
            I am hoping to figure all that out by the time I move her to bigger box (planning on 80*60cm aprox). (will probably spring for thermostat but will still need to figure out how to spread the temp correctly) any advice or guides are welcome


            • #7
              Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

              First of all, welcome to RTB! We will try to steer you in the right direction, start by reading the Ultimate Care Guide

              Also, if you could possibly post some pictures, it would help a LOT! I think you need to back off handling a bit and make sure not to feed her too often, I also think you need to buy a thermostat right away. Improper temps and humidity will cause lots of stress on your boa which will lead to sickness and I know you don't want that.

              Let us know if you have any more questions and good luck!

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


              • #8
                Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                Even newborns can go over 14 days to a month without their first ever meal. 14 days is not long for them to wait for food. When I first brought home my little guy, it was 7 days from his previous feeding and I waited 10 days before feeding him his first meal in his new home. I handled him for the first time 3 days later. I give 60 hours after feeding before handling because I just play it on the safe side. 48 hours is the standard we advocate on this site.


                • #9
                  Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                  thanks for the info

                  got the guide and will start reading soon

                  this is the setup from outside

                  setup from inside

                  this is the thermometer on the hot side and I have another set up exactly the same on the cold side
                  btw I suspended another node in the air couple of centimeters above this one and it read 6 degrees less (is that normal? or do I have to sort of heat the air too? from what I understand snakes absorb the heat through their bellies so I am going with the thermometer on ground)

                  this si the wire I am using beneath the box

                  as for humidity the box is definitely humid, but not sure how much, I asked a friend of mine today where to get thermostat and hydrometer and ought to buy them soon, i'm guessing with thermostat tho will need different heating source
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                    A thermostat should be able to work with that heating source because what most thermostats do is control the power output to the outlets or turn the outlets on/off to try to keep the desired temperature. So unless that wire is physically wired into the house wires with a box controlling power flow, it should be fine.


                    • #11
                      Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                      Thats odd, i've seen this very same pic on facebook lol..


                      • #12
                        Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                        yeah I posted this on FB when I got the snake, in fact the link her is from FB
                        kinda weird that you saw it overthere tho, either FB is expremely intrusive or perhaps you have common friend? (not friends with someone called Ramy by any chance, are you?)

                        acephantom, I just thought other options might be better specially for better box. this is plugged in the wall with a dimmer so I can install the thermostat before the dimmer


                        • #13
                          Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                          Originally posted by AMShokr View Post
                          acephantom, I just thought other options might be better specially for better box. this is plugged in the wall with a dimmer so I can install the thermostat before the dimmer
                          Yes, you should be able to plug the thermostat between the wall and the dimmer. The thermostat will have a probe you have to put into the cage so the cage will just have to be close to it. I think the probe lengths are typically 72 inches long


                          • #14
                            Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                            so I have been reading in the care manual and seems I have my work cut out for me!

                            the day before yesterday was the first time I handle her since you guys advised me not to and she seemed more tense than before even, so put her back
                            yesterday I was changing the news papers in the box (i realized the water vapor in box ends up being condensed and apparently its a lot, so news papers were really damp)
                            I put her outside until I finished changing them then when I held her she seemed bit less tense, so sat with her a bit, she kept moving around thhen returned her

                            could it be that? or just coincidence? another issue is I have the box corner heated but the house in general is very cold (so is the cooler corner)
                            i'm checking out a bigger box today

                            also not it has been 14 days since her last meal, feed again or wait? (it did not poop till now from the past two meals)

                            edited to add this:


                            • #15
                              Re: my new boa is "unresponsive"

                              it did poop today and I noticed this development on the face, is that healing or really nasty infection?