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 #2258563


Twilightrose
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 Ill-informed and confused

I purchased an adult Albino Honduran Milk Snake a couple of months back from a pet store. The man who worked in the fish/reptile department was actually her previous owner. He said she was about 2-years-old, born in captivity and fed only on frozen mice, thawed in hot water, every 7-10 days. He agreed that she was mild mannered and low maintenance, as were requirements for me since she would be the first snake I would own and I have a 4-year-old autistic daughter (who as it so happens absolutely lights up when I take Charlotte out of her cage).

He didn’t provide me with very much information so I spent a couple of hours online that night looking at Milk Snake care sheets, all of which told me pretty much the same basic things. Everything went fine for the first month, she started a shedding process a week after I got her and ended up skipping a couple of weeks worth of feedings but once she shed she picked right back up with her normal diet.

I live in Kansas, so the weather can be a bit crazy here, and I live in a rather drafty house. I moved her tank about 2 weeks after I got her to a warmer location in the house. I had A LOT of trouble getting the heating mat to stick to the bottom of the tank that first week, it kept falling off and not even duct-tape would keep it up there. I returned one mat thinking it deficient, but when the second did the same thing I finally found that Gorilla Tape (from the Gorilla glue company) worked perfectly to hold it up there. I don’t currently have a thermometer for her tank, but I was certain to use the size of heat mat appropriate for a tank her size and I was sure to make sure that I created a heat gradient with a hiding space on both sides of the gradient. The tank feels to be sufficiently warm on the heated side and sufficiently but not overly cool on the non-heated side. Her tank most certainly doesn’t feel like winter, speaking of which, we’ve had a pretty mild one and it’s been a lot more like spring than winter for weeks now.

About three weeks ago, I noticed that Charlotte started curling up under her water dish. Normally she loved the pyramid-like hide-hole and was almost exclusively found there regardless of where in the tank I placed it, occasionally she would burrow in her bedding. It annoyed me that she started going under the dish, because she would frequently dump some of the water out. I didn’t try to make her stop though, just adjusted the bedding when I got her out in the evenings to make sure there wasn’t a pile of wet bedding mildewing and put a bit less water in her bowel to accommodate.

Two Sunday’s ago she ate a mouse with no problems, it was slightly bigger than the others but she’s had them that size before as well. So, when last Sunday she snubbed her mouse I assumed she just wasn’t quite ready to eat again yet. I tried again a couple of nights later, but still no go... and again a couple of nights after that, she started to eat the mouse after a moment, got it’s head in and then decided to back off of it completely. By this point I was rather worried and began searching the net more for answers. I’m panicked, thinking she must be sick somehow and I’m broke with no way to get her to a vet. After about the fifteenth page, I find one that mentions "brumation" and "gravid", with no explanation of what these words mean (but apparently these are two instances when a snake might choose to not eat) so I started to search for those words in specific. After learning that "gravid" meant pregnant, I stopped researching that because she’s the only snake I have and to the best of my knowledge was kept in her own tank previously. Finding that brumation was similar to a light hibernation, and that although it isn’t necessary if the circumstances are right for it, a snake will go into brumation for a period in the cooler months. It explained what happens and the behaviors of a snake leading up to brumation. There was a lot of talk about forcing brumation, and brumation in regards to preparing for breeding etc. Again, she’s the only snake I have and I’m not attempting to encourage brumation nor do I intend to breed her right now.

Her behavior right now certainly sounds a lot like brumation, she’s shunning food, hiding in the coolest place of the tank and generally being really lazy. However, I’m not sure I understand why she is brumating, or even if that is what she’s doing! Her tank temperature doesn’t seem to be cool enough to trigger her desire to brumate, nor does it seem cool enough for her to properly brumate. So, I’m just really not sure what to do! My instinct says to leave her alone and trust her to follow her own instincts, but I don’t want her to loose weight or get sick (if she isn’t already). Any advice that anyone has to offer would be appreciated.



03/12/12  06:47pm

 #2258667


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2258563


 Ill-informed and confused

Update:

It was a really warm day yesterday, and is even warmer today. Today, even during day light hours, Charlotte left her hiding spot beneath the water dish and exchanged it to burrow in the bedding after exploring her cage for a minute or two. I think I’m going to try again to feed her tonight.



03/13/12  03:34pm

 #2258668


Snakebuz
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2258563


 Ill-informed and confused

Sounds like you’ve done most of what you need to do.... A thermometer is needed if you are to rule out a problem with temperatures not being adequate though. A cheap two dollar one will do the trick. Don’t stick a stick on type on the side of your tank, place it where the snake might be: laying on the substrate, and get readings from the warm and cold side, also under there where he likes to stay. He sounds like he might be liking the humidity from the waterbowl spillage, or the downward pressure from the bowl making him feel secure and happy. A guess...is the waterbowl close to the heater?
If he seems to be staying cool and presenting brumatic behavior (eeerrr yes, I might make up a word if it’s a good one), give him time to clear his last food out and cut the heat back down and give him a couple more weeks to brumate. You sound like you’ve pretty well figured it all out, If you have a chance to, keep track of his weight and you shouldn’t have a problem as long as he isn’t losing too much weight. One word, if you feed him a mouse that isn’t FULLY thawed, he might be reluctant to take another till he gets really hungry. Keep us posted! Snakebuz



03/13/12  03:41pm

 #2258670


Snakebuz
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  Message To: Snakebuz   In reference to Message Id: 2258668


 Ill-informed and confused

Just read your last post, A couple of months, she’s a female...What are the chances she mated in the pet store and is now looking for a nesting area? Is she a pretty "healthy" girl? If she is kinda’ pudgy, you might fix a nestbox just in case. My 2 guesses. Again, good luck. Snakebuz



03/13/12  03:48pm

 #2258677


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Snakebuz   In reference to Message Id: 2258670


 Ill-informed and confused

She doesn’t seem to have any bulges as far as I can tell. I’m not sure how long she was actually at the pet store though. I do know at the store she was the only one in her tank, and the only one of her kind. The guy who worked there owned her and decided he needed to get rid of her for whatever reason, and so was selling it through the store. I believe he may have had other snakes, but I am not certain and I don’t know what her cage arrangements were like with him. I suppose I can set up a nesting box though, just in case. I know the thermometers are cheap and the only excuse I have is that I can’t seem to remember to get them while I’m at the dang store.

The water bowel is midway between the hot and cold side of the tank. The guy I bought it from said that this type of snake doesn’t need a lot of humidity and warned me against putting the water too close to the heater for that reason. He said too much humidity for this kind of snake leads to respiratory issues. He said to mist the tank once a week or so, and daily while she’s shedding.



03/13/12  04:37pm

 #2258746


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2258677


 Ill-informed and confused

... and she’s still refusing to eat tonight as well as acting incredibly skittish, which is very unlike her.



03/14/12  01:48am

 #2259201


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2258746


 Ill-informed and confused

Still hasn’t eaten but is now looking very dull and her eyes are opaque. I didn’t expect her to be shedding again so soon...

There isn’t anything else that would make them look like they are about to shed other than shedding, is there?



03/18/12  03:31am

 #2259488


Snakebuz
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2259201


 Ill-informed and confused

Once the eyes go blue it’s not a guessing game whether she’s going to shed or not. A few days after she "clears" and she sheds that should probably do the trick for her refusal to eat.



03/20/12  01:45pm

 #2259506


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Snakebuz   In reference to Message Id: 2259488


 Ill-informed and confused

OK, yeah her eyes are opaque (not blue, she’s an albino so her eyes are normally red not black, so when opaqued they look more pink). I just wasn’t sure if there was anything else, such as an illness that might mimic shedding. It just seems odd she’s shedding again so quickly! I am definitely relieved though, to know what’s going on :) Thanks for the bits of advice, it helps!



03/20/12  05:31pm

 #2259768


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2259506


 Ill-informed and confused

Her opaqueness cleared today and she is eating now :)



03/23/12  01:14am

 #2260322


Snakebuz
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2259768


 Ill-informed and confused

Good deal. By me saying her eyes blued, it means a point in her condition of shedding where there is a fluid separating her "new" and "old" skin, irregardless of the snakes color scheme. She would still be labeled "in blue or in the blue" during that phase of shedding even if her eyes looked "pink" instead of blue. Hopefully by now she has shed her skin. If not, you need to ensure that she does, and that the eye caps and tail tip sheds with the shed. The tail can get amputated by successive unshed tail tips, and the eyes can get damaged by successive unshed eye caps. Don’t worry, this usually doesn’t happen, and when it does, usually with snakes that have been kept in too dry a cage with not adequate water availability. Something to catch the skin on helps also.
Snakes that are actively growing can shed once a month easily. It slows down as they get older and are adult size. They grow proportionate to the amount of food they are eating. Hope that helps. You will love being a new owner. Good luck.
SSSSssnnnnakebuz



03/27/12  09:47am

 #2274832


Twilightrose
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  Message To: Snakebuz   In reference to Message Id: 2260322


 Ill-informed and confused

UPDATE: I’ve had Charlotte now for about 6 months. I’m definitely thinking that she isn’t nearly as old as the guy believed her to be seeing as she is in her 5th shed already (unless there’s something IDK about that would make an adult shed more often than usual). She’s grown about a foot longer and is a bit thicker as well. I have definitely enjoyed having her and she’s doing quite well with our family. My camera batteries are dead and I don’t have replacements on hand, but I’ll try to get some up soon! Thanks again for all of the help and advice.



07/28/12  11:10pm

 #2281375


Snakebuz
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  Message To: Twilightrose   In reference to Message Id: 2274832


 Ill-informed and confused

Glad she’s doing fine. The only problem you should have now is keeping her in her cage, lol. Gotta’ love those snakes!
SSSSssssnakebuzzz



09/25/12  01:39pm

 #2281376


Snakebuz
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  Message To: Snakebuz   In reference to Message Id: 2281375


 Ill-informed and confused

looking good!



09/25/12  01:42pm


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