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Hatchet_man_90221   FloridaHerps01  

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 Western Hognose Acting Strange

Hey everyone I had a western hognose a few months ago but i had sold it to one of my friends. He just called and said it was acting strange turning its head and biting itself, rolling over on its back and its head was jerking. I thought it sounded like it had something fall on it and damage his spine but they said nothing could have done it in his cage. So my next guess was worms but it was captive born and fed frozen mice its whole life he is 3 and 1/2 year old. Feeding him frozen mice should have killed all parasites right? But please someone respond quick with some ideas and thanks for any help.

03/13/15  09:36pm


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  Message To: Hatchet_man_90221   In reference to Message Id: 2312735

 Western Hognose Acting Strange

Playing dead. Sounds just like the wild playing dead behavior. Most places say that Heterodons will lose this tendency in captivity. It has, however, been found that if the internal body temp of the snake has been raised to 97.5 degrees F or above, that a freaked out snake will still play dead. Just the cage temp alone is not enough to determine the snake’s body temp. A thermal probe is the only good way to figure out the snake’s internal body temp. Air temp, substrate time, humidity, direct heat exposure (i.e. sun / heat lamp), and then energy loss at the same time through convection and respiration, must all be factored in to help approximate the body temp, which is a lot more work than a thermal probe.

Issues with thermal probes are you can damage the snake if you are not careful, similar to probing to determine the snake’s gender.

If they snake is back to behaving normal, when observed from a distance, I would not be worried. Based on what you said, it sounds like a typical feigning death routine.

I recently acquired a new H. platirhinos that still feigns death even though it has been captive for 4 days now. Heterodon roll over and jerk about in a faked agony with their mouths hanging open. While jerking about upside down, their gaping mouths frequently come into "biting" contact with the body.

If it stops and goes limp as well, that is normal for the behavior. When flipped right side up once limp, it should right itself. On occasion, I have had live, healthy Heterodon not do this however. Give anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 hours on occasion, and the snake will right itself and sneak off to hide. If the "predator," in this case likely humans, is seen during the "righting" process, the entire ordeal will start over again.

Hopefully it is simply playing dead, and good luck to you and your friend with it.

03/14/15  12:45pm

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