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10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues :)

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  • 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues :)

    Hello So happy to have found a forum that I can ask questions about this big, beautiful, wonderful snake that I inherited/rescued from a friend. I know very little about reptiles, so I began to study. I am fascinated! But still a little lost....
    Sativa came to live in our head shop about three years ago. She was 8 feet long and about 80 lbs. I converted a 6x4 glass and wood display case into a lovely terrarium with great humidity, some logs to climb in and (when she doesn't kill it laying on it with her current 90lb self), fresh grass to lay on. I lined the wooden bottom with indoor/outdoor carpet and tacked it down with velcro. I placed a reptile heat pad under the carpet with two layers of carpet over it to cushion it, and added a ceramic heat lamp (only it doesnt give off light, just heat) along with a sunlamp on a 12 hour cycle for natural light. The ambient air temperature stays around 87 degrees, but she can also go to the other end of the enclosure, where there is no heat lamp or pad. She has a big flower pot tray as a bathtub, and a big rubber dish for fresh water. She grew two feet! She is now 10 feet 3 inches long. She sheds every 6 weeks like clockwork, and she is vibrantly colored, with a nice "bat" tail, but not as fat as it used to be.
    I have been feeding her f/t rats - the "jumbo" size. I had been feeding her every 2 weeks, but she grew so fast, so I slowed down to every 3 weeks. She still looks great.
    So, about a month ago, I went to feed her (so, I don't put her in a tub for feeding - she is too big for anyone to pick up by themselves in our family and I don't even have a tub big enough for her) and she struck at the rat (as she often does). As she did, her teeth got caught in the carpet/mat and she flipped out!! Managed to pop the carpet loose with a big stick and she did not lose any teeth and did not appear injured - but since then, she is one pissed off girl. She had always been curious and not defensive, never struck or seemed in any way aggressive. Now, every time I open the top of the enclosure, she strikes first and asks questions later. She has not bitten me, but I dont stick my hand in there, either. I was able to clean her cage this weekend, but it had been a while since I was able to, and she just let me do it, for some reason.
    So, I called a reptile guy. He tells me that the poor girl is STARVING and that rats are not enough food for a ten foot snake. So here I am. I feel a great responsibility to care for her and make her life as happy as can be, living in a cage. I also am very reverent that she is a big predator animal and I respect the responsibility I have in caring for her. I look forward to learning a lot more about my snake.

  • #2
    Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

    Welcome to RTB!

    Glad to see that you are getting some answers in the other thread, but you might consider posting another thread with more specific questions in one of the sub-forums in the following links:

    Feeding Issues

    Environment

    They are both sub-sections of the Boa General Care & Husbandry sub-forum.

    The New Members Intro section is mainly frequented by moderators, so it does not get a ton of attention for getting questions answered.
    Last edited by bebowebb; 06-16-2015, 01:25 AM.
    "An increase in reptile education can lead to a decrease in reptile discrimination." - Bebo

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    • #3
      Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

      Yup, I will....but did not want to overwhelm on my first post about feeding since that was my urgent issue. I have several Thanks for the warm welcome! Great forum.

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      • #4
        Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

        I would get rid of that carpet as well. It's not sanitary, and apparently can cause injuries... Some commonly used substrates are corrugated wrap, kraft indented paper, red rosin paper (my personal choice), newspaper and aspen shavings.

        Is she being handled often? If you only open the cage to feed her, she will learn to expect food every time that door opens.

        Keep us informed.

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        • #5
          Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

          Originally posted by Kung Fu Joe View Post
          I would get rid of that carpet as well. It's not sanitary, and apparently can cause injuries... .
          I've used indoor-outdoor carpet for some snakes and I like it...except for the handwashing part. Assuming it is kept clean (preferably alternating with a 2nd clean one kept on hand) there is nothing "unsanitary" about it.
          You do have to make sure to feed your snake on a "plate" of some kind though, to make sure they don't hook their teeth. It can be a challenge to get all that into place past a large aggressive feeder.

          One advantage to washable carpet is the excellent traction it offers, plus the substantial savings -since it can be washed AND disinfected many many times without ever wearing out. Less mess to dispose of too...so it's
          eco-friendly. The corrugated wrap works nicely but sure gets expensive by comparison. I've never seen any mold issues on carpet I've used either, unlike the other substrates mentioned. All options have pros & cons...

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          • #6
            Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

            Another option to think about is a method called hook training.

            Boas are wild animals. They can never truly be tamed, but they can be acclimated to certain routines. Hook training is a very easy method of acclimating your boa and "training" it to understand when it is time to eat vs when it is time for handling.

            It is a very simple concept and usually does not take much time for a relatively tame boa to catch on to.

            Remember, with boas - especially larger boas - you never truly utilize a hook for handling. Actual handling of a larger boa with a hook can potentially cause rib injuries due to the larger boa's weight. With hook training, you do not actually handle the boa with the hook. Instead, you use the hook to let the boa know that it is time for handling and not feeding.

            Feeding days are simple - you open the enclosure, introduce the prey item, close the enclosure, and go on about your business. No hook is involved on feeding days.

            On non-feeding interactions, you use a hook to gently rub the boa's body for a couple of minutes and eventually work your way up to the boa's upper third of it's body and even the neck and head. After a few minutes of gently touching the boa with the hook, you then move in to interact with the boa by hand.

            This is a simple way of conditioning the boa to know that when touching is involved, it is not time to go into feed mode.

            It is generally easier to hook train a boa from a younger age, but it is never too late to start and condition the boa to make things easier.
            Last edited by bebowebb; 06-18-2015, 03:55 AM. Reason: Correction of misspelled word.
            "An increase in reptile education can lead to a decrease in reptile discrimination." - Bebo

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            • #7
              Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

              What is your technique for plate feeding an aggressive 10+ foot boa?

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              • #8
                Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                Originally posted by Kung Fu Joe View Post
                What is your technique for plate feeding an aggressive 10+ foot boa?
                My BRB's are on cypress mulch. Back when I fed on a large plastic platter I would put it into the enclosure before starting to thaw the feeders I'd need that day.

                Now they have plastic restaurant bus tubs that I've turned into hides, so I just put the feeder on top of those since they're plenty big.

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                • #9
                  Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                  Originally posted by Kung Fu Joe View Post
                  What is your technique for plate feeding an aggressive 10+ foot boa?
                  I think I detect a note of sarcasm, but I agree with bcr_229's post. I have yet to meet a snake that cares about fine china, so I'd utilize whatever works: the top of the existing hide boxes can work, as can a big piece
                  of cardboard or a large plastic lid (like from a sweater-box) that you slide carefully into the cage with the door barely cracked open. Obviously some hungry snakes are going to be ready to pounce on whatever's coming
                  their way, but a quick water spray to their face is harmless & may back them off just enough to safely accomplish the task. Cages vary, snakes vary & our techniques will vary too...gotta stay on your toes for sure!

                  I will add that the original statement I made (assuming this was directed at my post?) had to do with the snake hooking it's teeth on the carpet/substrate. When I kept a large BCI on such carpeting, I never really used
                  a "plate" for her to eat on as from the moment I was opening the cage, she was launching in my direction. It was all I could do to crack open the cage & swing her (dead) rat in using long feeding tongs. Her food never
                  hit the cage floor, and she never snagged the carpeting with her teeth, or me, for that matter.

                  I also agree with "hook training" or other ways of signaling your snake so it knows when to expect food. Far fewer problems occur when you take a few moments to "communicate" with your snake.

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                  • #10
                    Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                    I was just curious... It didn't sound like sound or safe advice in my opinion in light of this...

                    Originally posted by EveeGreenGoddess View Post
                    Now, every time I open the top of the enclosure, she strikes first and asks questions later. She has not bitten me, but I dont stick my hand in there, either.
                    I thought you might have a good technique to share regarding the complexities associated with the size of the snake, plate and prey. For a snake under six feet or so, that is an effective technique. I certainly wouldn't recommend it for a 10+ footer that "strikes first and asks questions later"... But it's always good to have multiple opinions from people with a vast range of experience.

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                    • #11
                      Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                      Originally posted by Kung Fu Joe View Post
                      I was just curious... It didn't sound like sound or safe advice in my opinion....
                      It's quite true that I do not now have, never have had & never will have, any feisty 10' snakes, so by all means share your suggestions. I quite agree, that's the good thing about a forum like this...learning from the
                      experience of others, especially where safety is concerned. The BCI I kept was about seven & a half feet, with a very "healthy" appetite.

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                      • #12
                        Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                        No harm done. We are both trying to offer advice, that's all that matters.

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                        • #13
                          Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                          Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                          It's quite true that I do not now have, never have had & never will have, any feisty 10' snakes, so by all means share your suggestions.
                          I have some snakes that large (and larger) that aren't feisty as a rule, but handling them is a nonstarter once we've started thawing feeders on feeding day; they know what's coming. Feeding them is always a two-person job, one to handle the sliding door to the enclosure, the other to offer the feeder.
                          We also use three foot long field herping tongs to offer the feeder, that way we can stand far enough back that there are no accidental bites even if the snake gets excited enough to blow by the feeder.

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                          • #14
                            Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                            Snakes that "blow past" the food are something to be prepared for, especially if the snake is 10'!!! I have 24" hemostats that worked for me & what I've kept, but I've never fed snakes quite that big..."only hots", lol....
                            The "two person rule" (or 3+ as needed) really applies too...and certainly NO handling on or right after feeding day, that's a no-brainer. Using your 3' field tongs to feed is a great idea, btw.

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                            • #15
                              Re: 10ft 3in red tail boa female - we have a few issues

                              Mine is 9'2 (at least) and I always make sure that the scent of food isn't present when I go in there t feed. I don't even go on the third floor prior to feeding. Thawing is done downstairs and when it's time to feed I go upstairs and get to the cage door ASAP. Drop it in quick, close the door quick. I almost try to surprise her with the meal to ensure she doesn't know it's coming.

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