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Thread: WC eastern garter snake, injured and won't eat

  1. #1
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    Dec 2017
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    Question WC eastern garter snake, injured and won't eat


    About a week ago I was walking in the wood and my dog stepped on a garter snake. I live in Canada, we don't normally see any kind of wild reptiles at this time of year. I thought it looked weird so I took it in to examine. At first I thought my dog hurt it, but I don't think it's the problem after all. I can't see any kind of fresh injuries but he seems to have a couple of old ones. I can see what look like a small round hole that already healed in his neck and some very small scabs on his back (nearly healed). He his about 20 inches long with a good girth (maybe 1 1/2 inches) but it look like a deflated tire, all soft and loose skin.

    I put it in an old 20 gal aquarium with a heat pad and water (I don't have a light for him yet)

    At first he moved kind of weird (stuttering like, and his head was always tilted on one side) but he looks steadier now. He drinks alright, moves around the tank but refuse to eat. I tried earthworms, thawed pinky mouse and even a live pinky (and I HATE feeding live prey, poor thing. I still feel guilty ) Yesterday I tried some raw salmon bit. At first I thought this was it, he went for the salmon, sniffed it opened his mouth... refused to touch it and went back hiding, opening and closing his mouth.

    I try not to handle him too much but I wanted to examine him after that. I have the feeling one side of his jaw is broken. The bones near the hinge(?) of his mouth don't look the same on each side and if I touch the weird side lightly it fall open and he seems to have trouble closing it. Not my favorite thing to do, but I managed to forced feed him a couple of small bits of salmon. He doesn't look like he can swallow with his broken jaw. He is calmer today, sleeping on the hot side of his tank. I might be wrong, but I think the feeding was good for him.

    My guess is that he was injured a couple weeks ago, probably by something trying to eat him (maybe a cat?) and managed to survive, but can't eat (hence the deflated look) He didn't managed to find a decent place to brumate so he was slowly frozen to death when I found him.

    At first I thought he was going to die, but he his improving. I know he might still die, but I'd like to try to keep him if I can. My main interrogation is, since he doesn't eat on his own, how do I know how much to feed him?

    I own corn snakes, but they don't eat the same thing at all, I'm not sure I can judge by that. (My corn snakes are in a different room, with different material and we wash our hand before and after touching each snake)

  2. #2
    "PM Boots For Custom Title" Albert Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Boogie down Bronx N.Y.
    Country: United States

    Re: WC eastern garter snake, injured and won't eat

    Well, it's great that you are trying to help the little guy but his injuries and the fact that he was probably in preparation to brumate will explain his unwillingness to eat. Snakes go into brumation mode ( stop eating) well in advance of actually entering the den site. So, it's abnormal for them to eat right away being in that mode. Very important for you to unplug the heat pad if it's not connected to a thermostat. Those heat pads get dangerously hot if they are not regulated by a thermostat. They can also cause severe burns to the belly of the snake. Force feeding the snake is unnecessary and stressful and should be avoided. The snake will probably continue to refuse to eat at this point. He probably is loaded with internal parasites as he is a wild garter and it's very common. You may need to get a exotic vet to examine the jaw and also a fecal float to rule out any parasitic infestation if you are going to keep him.
    guidofatherof5 likes this.
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

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