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Thread: Force Feeding

  1. #1
    Ophiuchus rhea drache's Avatar
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    Force Feeding

    Discussion thread for Force Feeding. If you would like to add a comment, click the New Reply button

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    Moderator adamanteus's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    Good topic. I have mixed views on the subject. Should force-feeding be a standard tool in every snake keepers arsenal of techniques? Perhaps not. Okay, it has it's place, but surely only as an absolute last resort.

    My feeling is that if an animal is refusing food we should be looking at the reasons why, rather than just ramming pinkies down it's throat. It is every animals' instinct to eat and to survive, presuming you have an otherwise healthy animal refusal of food is indicitive of underlying problems. 99% of the time this will be faults in the husbandry techniques we are inflicting on our animals. I'm sure healthy animals don't refuse food in the wild.

    Evey aspect of your snakes' behaviour gives you signals as to how well or how badly you are catering to its' needs. If your snake is refusing food for longer periods than you would consider "normal" (presuming the snake is healthy and free of parasites), you should be checking temperatures, photo-period, humidity, provision of hides, spacial requirements, types of food being offered etc.

    Certain species are notoriously "difficult feeders", but in my experience the problem is always incorrect husbandry. I have kept European Adders (Vipera berus) in the past, and they steadfastly refused all food items offered until I gave them an enclosure with a floor space of 6' X 6' furnished with live, growing grasses and copious bracken. I rarely saw them again but they immediately started to accept live Common Lizards (Lacerta vivipara) and then soon progressed to taking dead mice. Once they had settled to this diet I tried to move them back into more conventional vivaria, they stopped feeding straight away. An extreme example, I know, but I think it illustrates my point.

    There is also the problem of stress. The act of force-feeding is obviously extremely stressful for the snake. They don't know you're trying to help! I've heard of snakes dying in their keepers' hands during force-feeding.

    So, to sum it up....If the snake is healthy but not feeding, we're doing something wrong. (Obviously, I'm not including times when a snake is preparing to slough, or in breeding condition). So we should be looking to improve our husbandry, rather than forcing. My thoughts on that!
    James.

  3. #3
    Juvenile snake Gyre's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    I've rehabilitated a lot of birds, (not even close to a snake, =P ) and I tend to have to force feed the first day. This generally increases strength, energy and appitite. By the time most small birds come in, they're on the edge of starvation.. being birds and all.

    Would force feeding a snake be a safe option if it was obviously malnourished and sluggish?

  4. #4
    Ophiuchus rhea drache's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    the thought of having to force-feed scares the wits out of me
    so far I've never had to do it
    just the anxiety I go through when I switch my garters to pinkies is quite enough for me
    I guess I'm curious to hear from people who have done it
    what led to it
    what the outcome was
    and what it felt like

  5. #5
    Former Moderator Cazador's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    I think James is right on target with his reservations, but there are times when it can be a very useful and necessary technique... particularily for babies that have gone a week without having their first meal. It can also be useful if a newly acquired snake hasn't eaten for a few weeks after being shipped. Another situation might include when a snake is taking medication on a fixed schedule, but it refuses to take its medicine concealed within food.

    If a snake's enclosure isn't clean, isn't the right size or temperature, and doesn't provide a sense of security, if the snake isn't otherwise healthy, force-feeding won't do a thing to solve the problem. I think the precautions mentioned above are so important that I'd like to start the force feeding article by copying them into it, if there are no objections.

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    Moderator adamanteus's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by Cazador View Post
    there are times when it can be a very useful and necessary technique...
    I absolutely agree, Rick. There are times when nothing else will work. My intention was not to say "never force-feed", merely to suggest caution and not to view forcing as standard practice. In fact, in experienced hands, force-feeding can be a speedy and relatively stress free event. As long as it is used as a last resort, it certainly has it's place.
    James.

  7. #7
    Moderator adamanteus's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    Just thought I'd dig this old thread up again in order to ask a related question.....
    Anybody here ever used a "pinky-pump"?
    James.

  8. #8
    "PM Boots For Custom Title" CrazyHedgehog's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    A what????

  9. #9
    Truieneer, e ras apoat Snaky's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    You can do pinkies in it, put the pump through the mouth and squeeze the pinkie through the pump in the snake (of course pinkies should not be alive... ) :


    I have it at home, but think it's not really suited for newborns. It's a bit to big in my opinion. As I've not had any problems with adult snake's before, I can't say if it's handy or not.

  10. #10
    "PM Boots For Custom Title" CrazyHedgehog's Avatar
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    Re: Force Feeding

    eeeeeeewwwww

    squished pinkies....

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