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  1. #1
    "Preparing For First shed" ephemerata's Avatar
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    not eating - calcium?

    Hi All.
    Our Lovely Sugar the eastern garter snake is not eating.
    Things to know to advise me:

    He has eaten nothing for three weeks, and since late July or so has only eaten once a week, just one worm with reptivite or thawed natural trout. He usually eats up to 8 worms and a whole lid of fish twice a week.

    He has 3 hard bumps near the end of his tail. 2 are above his cloaca and 1 is below. Both a herp store in town and a scientist friend think it is calcium. I plan to go back with Sugar to the herp store this weekend to see someone who knows more. They thought calcium and not fat (my first guess) because they are hard, slide around, and do not bother him when you push them. I've seen them appear in May or June and thought they were just digesting bones back from when i fed him some live goldfish.

    He spent his first 6 months in an elementary school science lab before I rescued him in December (they did not want him anymore because all but he and the anoles had died). There he was fed only fatty minnows in the goldfish family and kept too cold and too humid. I've changed his diet (no more goldfish) and habitat of course.

    He does not have mites and his mouth looks great on the inside.

    He shed mid July, and has shed 3 times this summer. Seems almost full size. He is a little dull, since he hasn't shed for a month but my first guess is not that he is not eating due to an upcoming shed since he is so especially mobile and wanting contact. Usually him hiding out is the way I know he will shed, as his eyes barely cloud now and clear quickly.

    His inside temp reads 84. He is in a room with doves so this room with a window unit is pretty stable at ambient 80ish. I do not have a heat lamp on him this time of year (it is 100 outside), but have a fluorescent bulb for light that puts out some heat. He is by a window where some heat might come in but does not get direct sunlight.

    He is very active and happy, searching for food at his water dish and climbing branches. Behavior, which is social and sweet, is normal.
    I continue to offer him worms with reptivite and trout every few days. He glides right over them, sometimes smelling it but not interested. I even tried live minnows in his bowl but he didn't go for it and they died overnight, a sad waste of life. Thinking he might want some variety, the herp store tried a pinkie but he has never been into those.

    OK, that's my novel. I have the specialty vet number handy but wanted to try you all before i shell out the big bucks! thanks
    jen
    a veritable menagerie consisting of a garter snake, cats, chicks, doves & fish

  2. #2
    Forum Moderator Stefan-A's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    My recommendation is to contact a vet.

  3. #3
    "Preparing For First shed" ephemerata's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan-A View Post
    My recommendation is to contact a vet.
    OK, i have made a vet appointment.

    Has anyone ever had a snake with calcium deposits or something similar to what i have described? can it be treated?
    jen
    a veritable menagerie consisting of a garter snake, cats, chicks, doves & fish

  4. #4
    Ophiuchus rhea drache's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Jen
    I just got to this
    has there been any news? did you do the vet visit?
    how is Sugar doing?
    rhea
    "you cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus" Mark Twain


  5. #5
    "Preparing For First shed" ephemerata's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Quote Originally Posted by drache View Post
    Jen
    I just got to this
    has there been any news? did you do the vet visit?
    how is Sugar doing?
    Update on Sugar:
    Last week I took Sugar to the specialty reptile vet who looked closer at two things: the bumps and his mouth.

    The bumps were my first concern and suspected cause. The xray was to look for metabolic bone disease - specifically bone spur or bony fusion or a bone infection. At his first glance he thought the spine looked OK, but is having their expert take a second look. I am getting a copy - a snake spine is beautiful!

    This was the surprise because the pet store said his mouth was fine...but when in a dark room with a flashlight, you could see tiny slightly red blood spots/flushed area of erosion in his mouth. To get a culture to know how to treat it, they had to do a rinse with a tube of sterile liquid all the way down to his lungs, then get it out and take a culture. I had to think hard about allowing this seemingly invasive way to get a culture be done but went ahead because they said it might wash out whatever is wrong too & help it heal. I'll know next week and will probably get whatever kind of antibiotics needed - which can be oral or a shot !?! who ever heard of giving a snake a shot? i won't do it.

    When they returned him and I asked about THAT smell (he musked them!) they said they had to turn him upside down and massage the liquid out, along with stretch him out for the xray. so the little guy went through a lot. BTW even though he musked them the vet and the assistant fell in love with Sugar. Even when the macaw in the next room was having a fit he was calm, cool, collected. Everyone who meets him is enchanted and says they have never met a nicer snake!

    A good thing is that when I got home and took him swimming to get the smells and liquids off he pooped right away in the warm water: he had not done that for weeks, maybe a month, since he has not been eating.

    He is still not eating, in fact an hour ago I tried fresh trout from whole foods and he smelled it but would not indulge even though he acts hungry. The vet did recommend i provide more whole body meals for him (as a vegetarian i was getting into the shortcut of thawed fish over live alternating with live worms) to up his calcium over his phosphorus and increase sunlight. I also brought back his heat pad underneath since it is cooler here this week (less than 100).

    ..Also, a different post but much debated, the vet said that handling Sugar and cleaning his space is Ok when pregnant... but he is also like me and into probiotics and not germaphobe..probably depends on who you talk to.

    cheers
    jen
    a veritable menagerie consisting of a garter snake, cats, chicks, doves & fish

  6. #6
    Ophiuchus rhea drache's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Quote Originally Posted by ephemerata View Post
    who ever heard of giving a snake a shot? i won't do it.
    I've given several snakes antibiotic injections, and it's kind of less stressful than forcing their mouth open to slide a tube down their throat
    if you have to administer oral antibiotics, you should ask whether you can mix it in with some kind of carnivore care recovery formula and just tube feed him the food while you're at it
    Quote Originally Posted by ephemerata View Post
    He is still not eating, in fact an hour ago I tried fresh trout from whole foods and he smelled it but would not indulge even though he acts hungry. The vet did recommend i provide more whole body meals for him (as a vegetarian i was getting into the shortcut of thawed fish over live alternating with live worms) to up his calcium over his phosphorus and increase sunlight.
    some of my difficult eaters were won over by the frozen SF Bay Brand silversides from the petshop, and those are whole fish
    Quote Originally Posted by ephemerata View Post
    Also, a different post but much debated, the vet said that handling Sugar and cleaning his space is Ok when pregnant...
    that's good news
    rhea
    "you cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus" Mark Twain


  7. #7
    "Preparing For First shed" ephemerata's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Quote Originally Posted by drache View Post
    I've given several snakes antibiotic injections, and it's kind of less stressful than forcing their mouth open to slide a tube down their throat
    if you have to administer oral antibiotics, you should ask whether you can mix it in with some kind of carnivore care recovery formula and just tube feed him the food while you're at it

    some of my difficult eaters were won over by the frozen SF Bay Brand silversides from the petshop, and those are whole fish
    that's good news
    thanks rhea
    vet just called and culture is fine, there is no reason why sugar is not eating & no need for antibiotics... so i'll keep at trying to feed him & gather a poop- will try a few varieties of fish like the one you say and maybe guppies, so hard though with their beautiful swooshing rainbow tails like aqueous peacocks

    they said they could forcefeed him in 2 weeks if he still did not eat, any opinions on this?
    jen
    a veritable menagerie consisting of a garter snake, cats, chicks, doves & fish

  8. #8
    Ophiuchus rhea drache's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Quote Originally Posted by ephemerata View Post
    thanks rhea
    vet just called and culture is fine, there is no reason why sugar is not eating & no need for antibiotics... so i'll keep at trying to feed him & gather a poop- will try a few varieties of fish like the one you say and maybe guppies, so hard though with their beautiful swooshing rainbow tails like aqueous peacocks

    they said they could forcefeed him in 2 weeks if he still did not eat, any opinions on this?
    you're welcome
    the SF Bay brand silversides are frozen
    many petshops have feeder guppies, which look nothing like the peacocks of the sea you're thinking of - think same shape body in a dull colour with a relatively short no-nonsense tail fin
    to me, force feeding is very last resort
    sometimes it helps to just back off for a while, leave them alone, let them get hungry and bored in some quiet darkish corner of the house with not much traffic, and then leave them something
    rhea
    "you cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus" Mark Twain


  9. #9
    "PM Boots For Custom Title" Odie's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    Quote Originally Posted by drache View Post
    to me, force feeding is very last resort
    sometimes it helps to just back off for a while, leave them alone, let them get hungry and bored in some quiet darkish corner of the house with not much traffic, and then leave them something
    My Red took 2 months off from eating this summer but eat again now

  10. #10
    "Preparing For First shed" ephemerata's Avatar
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    Re: not eating - calcium?

    UPDATE: Sugar STILL has not eaten. It has been since mid July. Help me decide what to do. I have never had a snake before so am calling on your expertise.
    If he had not eaten now is the time in which the vet recommends force feeding him...he is real thin now but active, searching for food at night. He is so sweet and just one year old; I don't want to do invasive procedures if it is really just his time

    The latest developments and what the vet recommends:
    His fecal float and other test both came out clear of parasites.
    The xray expert says his vertebral column is fine. The bumps are soft tissue.
    Choice 1: Take a soft tissue biopsy to see what it is since he still has these unexplained bumps.
    Choice 2: Pursue that he has some type of infection and give him antibiotic shots. I have noticed a clicking from his head. The clicking does not necessarily seem to correspond with his breathing. It is almost as frequent as a metronome. However a culture showed he was fine.

    Of course I have been hopeful I don't have to do anything invasive and HE WILL JUST EAT - trying to feed him thawed fish and I have been putting a live worm in his tank while it is still dark out in the morning for a few hours. He expresses interest, pushing it with his snout and smelling it, but not going for it.
    Another logistical concern: I have spent $300 at the exotic pet vet so far..and haven't learned anything other than 'he is fine'
    jen
    a veritable menagerie consisting of a garter snake, cats, chicks, doves & fish

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