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  • [Eyes/Mouth] Broken Jaw?

    I'm kinda curious what people might think about this. I can't get a picture because it's feeding day so I might try to get one tomorrow if he will cooperate.

    I got a male BCI off craigslist about a month ago. Two weeks after I got him home he unleashed in his cage and made a huge mess. I took him out and set him in a shallow tub of water while I cleaned the cage. He climbed on one edge of the tub and tipped it over. I checked him out and put him away and he seemed fine for the next week. Last week he got really irritable every time I went near his cage, and the left side of his lower jaw seemed unhinged a couple times. I took him out a couple times this week and ran my finger along his whole jaw and can't feel anything out of place, but he definitely didn't want me near his face. I fed today first meal in 5 weeks, and he just stared at it for two hours before finally eating a medium rat. He seemed uncomfortable eating, and it felt like it took a long time to get it started down. He was supposedly a highly motivated eater for the previous owner, so I feel like something is out of place. I don't see any swelling anywhere, and he doesn't seem to hesitate when I touch his body anywhere. Could he have a broken jaw and I'm just not seeing it?

  • #2
    Re: Broken Jaw?

    He could...or he could have a mouth infection*...and he's likely still very freaked out by the move as well. A picture might help...but a vet would be a better choice to determine what if any injuries or illness he has.
    The incident you describe doesn't sound likely to have injured him...more likely the owner knew there was a problem & found you to dump him on. That's a big part of the problem with Craigslist pets...you need to
    anticipate that there are problems that people lie about, and if you don't have the experience (or the money for professional veterinary help), they might be better off with someone else.

    Keep in mind that few snakes "want" us near their faces, but IF you think he has an injury, you should NOT be feeding such large food, AND you definitely should get him seen by a competent herp vet.
    *He might also have a tooth that re-embedded in his mouth, causing pain & infection, so kindly get him some help?

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    • #3
      Re: Broken Jaw?

      I might need to take him to a vet, but the closest competent reptile vet is a 6-hr drive and they are not open on the weekend, so I have to wait till someone is home to watch the kids. I may try to take him Monday if he still doesn't look right. I didn't find any infection or signs of inflammation in his mouth when I inspected him, but I'm not a qualified veterinarian either.

      I really wasn't that concerned about it till he had trouble eating today otherwise i wouldn't have bothered feeding him.

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      • #4
        Re: Broken Jaw?

        Can you see any sort of swelling anywhere on his face/head? If you draw an imaginary line down the center of his face, do the two sides appear to be the same?

        Can you remember about how long it actually took him to get that meal down? Maybe he just wasn't super hungry, or it wasn't as appealing for some reason? (temperature of the rat? or some spoilage making it smell 'off'?)

        I feel for you...6 hours driving to see a vet is awful for you AND the snake. Be sure to transport him in an "ice chest"/styrofoam box so he's not exposed to either too much heat (sun coming in the car etc) or too much
        chill (a/c?), if you find yourself having to make that trip. If using an ice chest, you can tape a tiny wad of paper (1/8") in the lid to leave a bit of space for air on such a long ride, or punch a hole or two if using styro.
        (BTW, he needs to be secured in a 'snake bag'- or pillow case inside the ice chest/styro...and a little padding wouldn't hurt either...just in case you've never transported a snake for long distance.)

        This is one of those times that you have to make the judgement call as to whether or not something is wrong...as you are seeing him...& seeing his behavior. You mentioned "the left side of his lower jaw seemed unhinged
        a couple times" and I'm not sure I know what you meant? Did you mean that his mouth didn't close all the way, that he held it slightly ajar? Sometimes after they eat (or try to bite) they don't get their jaws correctly
        lined up right away*...sometimes it's because their teeth actually 'catch' on part of their mouth & they need some help, but if you waited for him to figure it out, that might have made his mouth sore...yet still not very
        obvious for you to see anything wrong. I sure hope that's all it is! If so, it should feel better on it's own given a little time & with any luck, won't result in any sort of infection that needs attention. *That's why you
        often see a snake yawn after they eat...they are actually getting their rows of teeth back in alignment...their mouth is full of tiny teeth and their jaws are so flexible, now & then their lower jaw even gets folded inward
        & stuck to itself because the teeth have snagged part of their own mouth. (If that ever happens, by gently using something blunt like a popsicle stick you can help the snake un-hook those pesky teeth.)

        As with most pets, we have to be 'detectives' & use both their behavioral clues and whatever we can observe. I hope you get him figured out...& that he's ok.

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        • #5
          Re: Broken Jaw?

          What color was his mouth? To me it kinda sounds like a tooth is poking him (think ingrown hair) which is an easy fix for a vet but there would be inflammation in that case.

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          • #6
            Re: Broken Jaw?

            Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
            What color was his mouth?
            You seriously want me to try to explain mouth color are you mental? It's like a silvery pink, his mouth is a little more flush than my other animals in my collection, but he is a DBL het snow so he has both anery and albino blood. I don't see any redness, and zero swelling at all in the head area. All four head quadrants look unilateral.

            I'm not exactly sure on how long it took him to eat because he stared at it for two hours, and I was in and out. It was gone within five minutes of me walking in and finding the head in his mouth.

            By the left side unhinged I mean that where the jaw hinge is on the front of his jaw it was unhinged and the left side was hanging down. I thought it was an abcess or swelling but as soon as I reached into the cage he pulled it up to where you couldn't see it. He hasn't done it again so I can get a picture.

            He seems fine today, but still really grouchy. I think I'm keeping the humidity about 10% higher than his previous owner and maybe he just doesn't like it, I might try a smaller water dish and see if he perks up.

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            • #7
              Re: Broken Jaw?

              Silvery pink sounds about right for normal. No clue what else it could be.

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              • #8
                Re: Broken Jaw?

                Originally posted by walla2GSP View Post
                ...I'm not exactly sure on how long it took him to eat because he stared at it for two hours, and I was in and out. It was gone within five minutes of me walking in and finding the head in his mouth.

                By the left side unhinged I mean that where the jaw hinge is on the front of his jaw it was unhinged and the left side was hanging down. I thought it was an abcess or swelling but as soon as I reached into the cage he pulled it up to where you couldn't see it. He hasn't done it again so I can get a picture.

                He seems fine today, but still really grouchy. I think I'm keeping the humidity about 10% higher than his previous owner and maybe he just doesn't like it, I might try a smaller water dish and see if he perks up.
                I only asked how long because you mentioned, & it wasn't clear to me if you meant he was HESITATING to eat OR if he actually had trouble with working his jaws to swallow it. Sounds normal to me, 5 minutes or so from
                the time you saw him taking the head to the time he swallowed it...that makes me think his jaws are just fine.

                Sounds to me like he just left his jaws out of whack for no particular reason, as he put them right when disturbed. Again, that sounds normal to me.

                As for him being 'grouchy'? That's much harder to track down but I don't think I'd run to the vet right now, from what you've said? What are his hi & low cage temps? what is the humidity reading? IF his cage is too warm,
                he will not only be uncomfortable but also will be hungrier sooner, which may seem like "grouchy"? It's also important that snakes not only have the right warmth to bask, but also can escape that heat as needed...it's CRUCIAL.
                So if the cooler side of his cage isn't cool enough, you need to fix that too...the BCI I kept seemed to like 75-78* on the cool side...she USED it. Does yours "use" all areas of his cage? What about places to hide??? Most
                snakes...and especially those that have been re-homed, want privacy as well as the right temperatures, so both the warm and cool end of the cage should have 'hides' that offer the right amount of "security" (doorways not too
                big, ceiling not too tall...they like to feel 'back pressure' as if wedged in a cave). So think about his home...are there things to fix? What about the location of his cage? (a busy area in your house, whereas he might really like
                a low-traffic place?) Also, what substrate are you using? Many ppl like to use layered newspaper as it's cheap & easy to dispose of, but it offers no traction and that would sure make ME cranky! Our snakes depend on some
                traction to move well (no limbs, remember?), so consider whether that's an issue. All these factors can make a snake "cranky".

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                • #9
                  Re: Broken Jaw?

                  If you could post either pictures of your setup or list the temps, humidity etc for us as well as the size of the enclosure, it would help. Snakes are easy to take care of but your husbandry must be correct or they won't thrive.

                  Welcome to RTB and we will help as much as we can!
                  http://berkeleyknebel.wix.com/mississippimorphs

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

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                  • #10
                    Re: Broken Jaw?

                    Originally posted by zamora View Post
                    If you could post either pictures of your setup or list the temps, humidity etc for us as well as the size of the enclosure!
                    Boaphile 421D (too small for him, but I will be replacing with 6422 in the fall hopefully)
                    92F on the hot spot, 77 on the cool side
                    65-68% humidity (a little high, but I don't have a smaller water bowl at the moment he can fit in)
                    On newspaper( but I will probably go back to Sani-chips in a couple months)
                    No hides, but I will be building two new ones on Thursday
                    My garage is my workshop/Snake Room so low traffic unless I'm checking on Snakes


                    I'll add that he seems to be doing better since he ate and no grumpiness. So either he is feeling better, or he was just hungry from going from food every two weeks to food every 5 weeks. He was about 5% overweight so that's why the change in diet.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Broken Jaw?

                      Originally posted by walla2GSP View Post
                      .... or he was just hungry from going from food every two weeks to food every 5 weeks. He was about 5% overweight so that's why the change in diet.
                      I think you're on to something there! Suddenly changing the interval (so much!) for feeding him wasn't something I'd have chosen to do. No wonder he was 'grumpy'!

                      Imagine yourself trying to lose about 6 pounds by fasting...that's something we now know doesn't work, since it just makes the body conserve every little calorie to prevent starvation...I would
                      not be surprised if the same sort of thing happens in other creatures like snakes. Any future attempt to reduce his weight should be done gradually...forced-fasting is risky to health & not kind.
                      It would have been better to go from feeding q. 2 weeks to feeding q. 2.5 weeks, then to feeding q. 3 weeks, and so on.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Broken Jaw?

                        Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                        Quote Originally Posted by walla2GSP View Post
                        .... or he was just hungry from going from food every two weeks to food every 5 weeks. He was about 5% overweight so that's why the change in diet.
                        I think you're on to something there! Suddenly changing the interval (so much!) for feeding him wasn't something I'd have chosen to do. No wonder he was 'grumpy'!

                        Imagine yourself trying to lose about 6 pounds by fasting...that's something we now know doesn't work, since it just makes the body conserve every little calorie to prevent starvation...I would
                        not be surprised if the same sort of thing happens in other creatures like snakes. Any future attempt to reduce his weight should be done gradually...forced-fasting is risky to health & not kind.
                        It would have been better to go from feeding q. 2 weeks to feeding q. 2.5 weeks, then to feeding q. 3 weeks, and so on.
                        Ditto what she said!
                        http://berkeleyknebel.wix.com/mississippimorphs

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

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                        • #13
                          Re: Broken Jaw?

                          I'm not sure if snakes have their metabolism change by food consumption like we do because in nature they might go months without food. If they go months and then the next food to come along is slightly too big, they will try to eat it anyways. They already have slow metabolisms... I'm not sure what could be much slower other than photosynthesis... in nocturnal snakes... Remember that very few snakes are active hunters so they rely on food to come to them. They just place themselves where they think they have the best chance. That is why if you have a rat snake in your yard, you know where to find it almost every single day.

                          I'm not sure if reducing the interval needs to be gradual, but increasing does need to be so they have enough time to accommodate. Shoving 2 rats into boa out of nowhere is a good way to shock its system and potentially having horrible results.

                          EDIT: A hungry boa is a hungry boa and they can go into feed mode which will make their lower jaw seem unhinged as it is in position to strike. I found out a few months ago that even something subtle might put them into feed mode. Don't go reaching into their cage blindly unless they already know it is time to be handled... even then be careful.

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