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  • [Health-General] Nose rub or possible abscess?

    I was wondering if anyone might have an idea why my boa would start nose rubbing after not doing it for years. She was born in 2011 and I've had her for four years this month. I made no changes to her enclosure (48x24x18, with RHP controlled by Herpstat), but it started up last year, and the past couple months even more so. At first it was minor, but the swelling on her nose has gotten more serious. It hasn't affected her appetite at all.

    Could it be some sort of abscess that needs to be cleaned out, rather than nose rub? The first photo was taken in September of last year, and you can see the minor rub. The second was taken near the beginning of this month.



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  • #2
    Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

    I would guess that either she is maturing & looking for a mate, or her growth is fueling a bigger appetite (like a teenager!?) and she's looking for more food. Some snakes are more restless than others and asking
    them to live life in what for us would be a room the size of a bathroom...well? Sometimes more handling (out of cage time) helps.

    Anyway, it's the other way around: the rubbing has apparently caused an abscess and yes, you should have her seen by an experienced vet, in my opinion. Unlike us, when snakes develop pus it's generally solid,
    so the infection doesn't drain on it's own, and being on the head, near the eyes & brain, can be more serious.

    She's a beautiful snake...I hope you can get this resolved...I know how frustrating it is to have a snake that nose-rubs! They seem to be oblivious about damaging themselves.

    I am also assuming that her cage is properly set up as to temperatures, with a warmer side & a cooler side; not knowing her size, it may be that for her to be comfortable (able to
    properly thermo-regulate) it is no longer big enough? IF a cage is too warm, you will also have the uncomfortable occupant constantly trying to get out, so please check the cage
    temps. and perhaps try offering a few degrees less to see if that helps? What ARE the cage temps? If the "cool side" isn't cool enough, can you imagine how frustrated she must feel?
    Snakes absolutely NEED temperature choices to be healthy...cages that are all one temperature are not in their best health interest. Unfortunately snakes cannot talk, so we must be
    "detectives" to figure out their issues from their enigmatic behavior.

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    • #3
      Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

      Thanks Noelle. I already have a vet appointment set up for her next week since I know reptile pus gets that cottage cheese like consistency.

      Cage temps are 91 F at the warm end, 77 F at the cool. Humidity at 66%.

      When it started I thought it was food related, so I upped her feeding to once a week and it's continued. She's starting to get a bit chunky now, so I'd like to cut back but I'm afraid it'll exacerbate things.

      I do want to eventually get her a larger, taller cage. She's an active girl and loves climbing and exploring outside of the cage. I've been trying to give her more outside time to release that pent up energy, but she's still doing laps inside.

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      • #4
        Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

        When a snake is constantly moving, that means the cage is too small. They do that when they feel claustrophobic. They are actively looking for a way out. I think you might need to get a bigger cage sooner rather than later.

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        • #5
          Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

          The BCI I had seemed to prefer the cool end about 75*, and the warm end was about 86-87*. I would try dropping your temps just a few degrees, see if that helps?

          Of course the vet will probably tell you to bump up cage temps (by the same am't) to help fight infection...? but I do think she may be too warm? A larger cage can offer more temp. variations. I think
          that one problem with these types of enclosures is the poor air circulation: I know it keeps the heat & humidity in, but maybe a little too well? My boa was kept in a huge insulated glass tank & was quite
          healthy. (I took her in as a rescue, never planned to have a snake that large, so after 12 years with me, she now resides with friends nearby that are "into" big snakes.) Anyway, if one end of her cage
          is 91*, it will be very hard to achieve 75* at the other, when all you've got is a 4' enclosed cage.

          I'm pretty sure that at this point, the vet will want to take the conservative approach (surgery on a snake's face is serious) & the hope is that it doesn't get any more swollen. I've seen worse (online).

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          • #6
            Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

            I'll try dropping the temperature on the warm end and see if that sparks any changes between now and the vet visit. I've already been doing research into larger, more vertically oriented enclosures to see what price range I'm looking at.

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            • #7
              Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

              Originally posted by KLowery View Post
              I've already been doing research into larger, more vertically oriented enclosures to see what price range I'm looking at.
              Just keep in mind that boa constrictors are terrestrial snakes. They like to climb but floor space is more important. Also heating a taller cage is harder.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
                Just keep in mind that boa constrictors are terrestrial snakes. They like to climb but floor space is more important. Also heating a taller cage is harder.
                Yeah I'm not looking for a true arboreal enclosure, but I would like to give her the option to climb if she wants.

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                • #9
                  Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                  The glass tank I used was fairly tall and I built a huge 'hide box' (w/ water-proofed sides & melamine/tile board top*) that covered about half the floor: I used UTH under the hide so she could hide & be very warm,

                  or she could bask on top, as there was an over-head heat lamp. Because there was more airflow, the other end of the tank had a good temperature drop...and sure enough, she used all parts of her enclosure

                  rather equally. BTW, something else these terrestrial boas like is traction, and on top of the large hide box I put a new (clean) carpet-mat (the kind with rubber backing so it's non-slip- also washable) and it was

                  obviously appreciated. I also used indoor-outdoor carpet (backless & very sturdy & washable) for substrate, because it allows the heat from the UTH to rise, AND gave excellent traction. The downside is that I had

                  to hand wash it, but I had spares cut. If you have many snakes, it's too labor-intensive, but it's also a very "green" solution & cheap! (lasts just about forever & can be sanitized w/ bleach etc). I see you're in Florida,

                  so humidity comes with the territory, so to speak....just giving you some other options, as I don't "follow the herd" much. Many ways to do things, you have to find what works for you & yours.

                  *If you build a similar hide-box, what worked very well (for a big snake to move around easier) was to cut 2 rounded 'doorways' on the same end of the hidebox, so she could cruise in & out at the same time. It
                  was hilarious when I first gave her that...it's hard to tell when a snake is having "fun" but she really seemed to be? I think some creativity might help your boa too, I hope so. (mine never rubbed her nose, which was
                  sorta surprising since she never wanted back in her cage when I had her out!) Good luck!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                    I'll have to get a photo of her set up later tonight when I get home so I can get critiques to make it better for her. Right now she's on aspen, with a Reptile basics hide under the RHP, water container at the other end, and a repurposed piece of wood forming a little climbing thing in the middle.

                    I like your idea of the mat on top of the hide, I'll probably do something like that since the hide plastic is very slick. I'm also thinking about switching her back to a smaller water bowl, as perhaps it's taking too much space on the cool side and not letting her regulate well. I put a larger, almost bin size in there but right now I don't think I have the space. I'll try switching back to the smaller and see if that gives her more space on the cool side.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                      Yeah, the idea of the really large hidebox was (a) that it held in the UTH heat real well and gave privacy, but also (b) offered a "second story" so she really could cruise around easier, especially with the double-doors.
                      It was gratifying to watch & made me wish I'd done that sooner. BTW, I'm no carpenter but like cage lids (that I've been making for years) it was easy to make, and it was the size of the mat. And if you do go with a
                      taller cage, you could actually make a multi-stepped-hidebox etc, for climbing & basking with the stability that large boas like and holes for them to climb in & out of.* (there's a limit to how well boas can use branches,
                      as they get bigger, though anything that offers more interest & exercise is good for snakes...I mostly have colubrids that DO use branches easily) When I had that boa, originally I was using a large plastic hidebox for
                      her too, and like yours, it was slippery so the top was wasted space, but when she got traction on the new, bigger hide, she spent time basking happily. It's way more fun to keep snakes that are comfortable.

                      *Another similar thing I've used for "smaller" snakes (like bull snakes) was a big heavy terra cotta strawberry pot with the multiple holes in the sides...same idea, the snake would hide inside, but could climb in/out & all
                      over it...hilarious to watch & good exercise! (some bull snakes are nose-rubbers too!) Too tight for a growing boa though.

                      Most experienced boa keepers here will tell you that a huge water bowl isn't needed & that some snakes will even end up with skin problems because of it, though it's one way to increase humidity. I tried both with the
                      BCI that I kept, she didn't seem to use a large water bowl either, it was wasted space for her too.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                        She's definitely getting to the point where I think climbing is uncomfortable for her, but perhaps with a larger cage I can offer thicker branches, or at least a pile of things for her to climb over. I weighed her in December and she was 12lbs, so she's starting to get to the point where she's bulking up and not just getting longer. Hopefully with these changes she'll be more comfortable and stop the rubbing. If it is breeding behavior and her looking for a boyfriend, she's going to be very disappointed!

                        I was able to change the vet appointment because of a cancellation, so I'll be taking her in tomorrow instead of next week.

                        Attached Files

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                        • #13
                          Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                          She's very beautiful, I love those cinnamon colors!...tell her she doesn't need a "nose-job" either, lol! About how long is she? I'm thinking she needs a longer-than-4' cage about now.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                            Thank you very much, I've always thought she was a wonderful boa. I need to get an updated length measurement. The last one I did was a year ago and she was just over 5ft. I'm pretty sure she's at least 6ft now.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Nose rub or possible abscess?

                              Serpwidgets - Snake Measurer
                              This might help with measuring. I can't ever get 2 pairs of hands or Butter to cooperate to measure her.
                              I wouldn't put her only hide on the hot side because her opportunities for safety only come with heat. If there is only room for one hide, you could try putting it in the middle.
                              It is hard to judge without knowing the layout of the cage.

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