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I have a boa! Nov update

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I have a boa! Nov update

Post Number:#1  Unread postby akane » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:36 am


I know I was talking to someone on here that loved snakes. I came in possession of a rosy boa with cedar shavings, a permanent water dish (they are a desert species), no hiding spot, and no heat. They said she loved to be handled and will only eat pinky mice with about 1 every 10 days. They couldn't get her to eat better (see heat comment). I cautiously put her on my shoulder, emptied her cage, removed the water dish, and went looking for an incandescent bulb. All was well until she started to get active enough she slid off. I caught her open handed without gripping but she bit me and bit me and bit me and bit me and just when I thought she had calmed down again she bit me. By that point I had a dry cage with paper laid down and carefully transferred her to it. I continued the search of an incandescent bulb but there are no working ones left in the house and the husky ate the cords to the electric blanket. I heated up 2 bottles of water, tied them off in old socks, and wedged rocks against them so they wouldn't roll. She promptly wrapped around one making it difficult to wedge the rocks since I don't want bit again. :lol: Then I finished it off giving her a plain paper bowl upside down with a section ripped out and covering most of the tank in a piece of fleece. My husband was convinced to heat up her bottles tomorrow despite his dislike of snakes and we'll get carefresh or something after work and at least a heat bulb if not heat pad. Considering cedar shavings and constant water how do you tell if a snake has a respiratory infection? I read that rosy boas kept with water all the time in a humid environment, like the whole of Iowa in summer, often die of respiratory infection. Then the cedar :x I wonder if the lack of heat is why she won't eat. I have gerbils but no new litters so I will have to get some frozen pinkies until then. They come in like packs of a dozen at the pet stores but I was told they would go all the way up to eating a full grown mouse every 10-14days with other sites saying food every 4-5days when using hoppers or pinky rats. I'm not sure how grown she is. 3' was given by one site as the average. I didn't get an age but I did get that she ate a pinky yesterday. Advice? Specialty forums to join?

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Last edited by akane on Sun Nov 13, 2016 3:21 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: I have a boa! Help?!

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Dood » Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:10 am


I have no experience with this species or anything other than king, milk and corn snakes ;) but respiratory infections in early stages are hard to notice and the symptoms are similar across species

They might have frequent shallow breathing and in later stages they could have some nasal discharge, a crackling sound when they breath or gape for air

Without heat the food in their stomachs can go rancid before the stomach acids can disolve all the carcass, the fact she's eating pinky mice likely saved her from an early death as the small surface area and uncalcified bones makes them digest much quicker

She looks to be a good weight but a long term diet of pinkys could also mean she is lacking in calcium and vitamin d3 so eventually I'd try and switch her over to hoppers and/or adult prey or maybe supplment her pinkys with calcium and Vit D powder (I like to add a touch of water to make a thick paste and then insert it into the pinkys mouth)

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Re: I have a boa! Help?!

Post Number:#3  Unread postby akane » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:45 pm


She says this heat thing is great and would appreciate it being more consistent. Didn't get bit moving her from one bottle to the next today. I'm thinking it was just the stress and maybe the smell of rodents. Rosy boa supposedly have a very strong feeding response and sometimes need a cue that you are not feeding them before you reach in their cage for them so I'm not holding it against her. I made a post on a forum last night but I wasn't allowed to include links and then it went poof and I wasn't in the mood at 3am to fix it. We'll see what more expert people say. Apparently snakes from different localities have different colors and patterns and breeders try to maintain true to the genetics of a locality. It could be interesting to see if someone knows what desert her genetics come from or if she's a worked on domestic morph.

__________ Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:45 pm __________

Well I got her to eat a pinky and a hopper and she still wanted more. I was checking the hopper got eaten because she was having trouble adjusting it in her jaws and finally dragged it into her temporary bowl house when she decided my heat was a good thing to grab. Rosy are known for their high feeding response. I'm sitting there with my hand over the tank trying to keep a snake from wrapping my hand while my husband googles how you make a boa let go. Eventually she twisted her own jaws loose in the attempt to remove part of my finger for food. It's a small snake but I had a bloody, swollen finger from the knuckle to the first joint for the rest of the night. I'm debating when and what to feed her next. Josh's coworker has a ton of snakes and has been giving suggestions along with finding it amusing I got a small boa stuck to my hand. He was telling Josh about the fun of removing python teeth from your hand. It's often suggested with rosy boa to develop a signal that there is or isn't food before handling them or moving things around their cage.
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Re: I have a boa! Help?!

Post Number:#4  Unread postby heritage » Fri Sep 16, 2016 7:55 pm


I am not one to get all heebie jeebie with snakes, but it trying to my finger might be a bit much :x . Sounds like it is adjusting well to the new, and more appropriate environment! As always, your posts absolutely fascinate me :)
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Re: I have a boa! Help?!

Post Number:#5  Unread postby grumpy » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:30 pm


She's been cold.... a long time. When you get her enclosure stabilized with continual
even heat, LOL.. Watch out. :x Her temperament 'may-likely' get a little worse.

Good luck with her.

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Re: I have a boa! Help?!

Post Number:#6  Unread postby akane » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:43 pm


Someone showed me a pic of how thick she should be at her age and wow she is skinny. She's the snake version of those starvation victims where you can see all their bones. When I messaged to get her age I told them she ate a hopper and rather than be happy they told me she would get sick because I am feeding her wrong. Well if you keep the poor thing at 60-70F she will. :x I'm told it may take 6months but with a slowly increasing diet she will eventually not try to eat me every time I reach in her tank. :lol: Why is it even when I'm not trying to rescue something I end up with a rehabilitation project? I was ranting on facebook about how we've been saying no cedar for 2 decades at least. I was like 8 when we switched because of respiratory problems in our guinea pigs and I'm 31 now. Every owner, breeder, and veterinarian along with every book, internet site, and care sheet will say no cedar. What level of stupidity causes you to fail to learn or listen to everyone saying no cedar in a low ventilation cage? Someone who works in a pet store says she gets blamed for selling it all the time and I've run against people like that who then say it's walmart or whatever stores fault for selling it. They sell it because idiots continue to buy it without research and for the wrong purposes. For a dog house, big airy chicken coop, in cat litter... sure they aren't on it much and/or the oils have ventilation to disipate but not in a solid sided enclosure the animal rarely leaves. :groooan: It's like a big neon sign flashing "Don't listen to me".

__________ Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:09 am __________

Barairo (literally rose color) has swapped her 15 tank with the gerbils 20 long tank and has under tank heating now. I question the heater size that was suggested to me so I have her lamp still pointed at the water and brick to create more radiant heat which is more ideal than top heat. The thermometer/hygrometer (humidity) got held up until tomorrow so I've just been checking where she is hanging out to tell if she's too warm. They are good up to 90F and I doubt even my double heating can surpass except maybe a very small spot in the tank. I plan to go make off with some flat pieces of rock for natural ledges and caves but for now she doesn't care her houses are basically thick paper. Josh said he might let his coworker pick me up another rosy or a sand boa (very similar but from Africa, slightly smaller, and patched instead of striped) at the big reptile show they go to every year. They have lots of snakes but even their smallest one eats large rats. I put down 3 hopper and 2 juvenile (mouse size) gerbils for the next month of feeding. Hopefully it works out and she will be on a proper quantity of food after that.

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She struck twice at things but I did not get a boa attached to myself this time. People are repeatedly saying they are docile when not hungry.

__________ Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:43 pm __________

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Warning feeding pics
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Barairo has been eating pinkies about the size of her own head. Last week she ate a hopper mouse.
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Tuesday I put down several large hopper and small juvenile gerbils. We have upgraded to this
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Tasty gerbil. They are supposed to eat something about twice their width but she is about 1/3rd the width she should be so I wasn't sure what she could handle. It seems gone though and Barairo is lazy today. :lol: She's moving back and forth between her heated bowl and cool bowl instead of hanging on the rocks keeping an eye on everything. I think she's just finally stopped looking for food constantly. She debated if cat was an edible mammal when Miyu sat on her tank but it was decided to be a little too big to even remove a bite of.

The person who sold her to me has been lying and arguing about what the bigger snakes she's trying to sell are and cost. And everyone is looking at the cedar in the pics going :roll: We're not sure if she's just too lazy to do research or purposely has bad intentions. I just hope in the end all the poor underfed snakes on cedar manage to get good homes.
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Re: I have a boa! New enclosure

Post Number:#7  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:17 pm


I'm not really a snake person but it has been interesting reading these posts. I've learned quite a bit. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with this boa. I'm glad she's in the hands of someone who knows how to keep her and feed her.

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Re: I have a boa! New enclosure

Post Number:#8  Unread postby heritage » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:36 pm


I missed the feeding update/pics - amazing the difference! And I would have never thought of the nutritional differences between what she was eating vs. what she really needed... as far as the calcium/vit.d (I assume because of the difference in bone development?)
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Re: I have a boa! New enclosure

Post Number:#9  Unread postby akane » Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:00 am


Barairo happily downed more young gerbils. I haven't had any litters though (new pairs and they seem intimidated by having some mice still hanging around the house) so I might have to buy her mice for a few weeks. Of course I can't do anything the standard, easy way so controversially with lots of 4am research and joining a group that maintains their reptile and amphibian enclosures with natural ecosystem setups I made a natural substrate for Barairo and am working on her houses. This is only the top layer mix. To support microbes and tiny insects it needs a rich, damp layer which in a desert or semi-desert goes on the bottom. Right now she's on 1 part palm compost, 2 parts quartz sand, and .25 part crushed coral. There is a heater pad in the front right corner covered by a slate tile that goes the full width and then I laid down the substrate, the house, the basking rock is under a heat lamp as well (deserts would have top heat and get cooler lower down), water dish, narrowed the opening to the house some with pebbles but I think I need to find something that will work as a top edge or bury the sides deeper to make a cave for her, and I am working on her 2nd house/cave to go on the cool side. They are marble tiles set on travertine (porous calcium based rock). My thread to the standard reptile forum went 3 pages of arguing over impaction from various natural materials like sand, calcium is somehow toxic... ?...., and why we started arguing lizards when I purposely put it in the section for small boas rather than overall enclosures I do not know. Snakes put a whole lot less in their mouths. I will post the results of my research but I'll probably just get lots of moaning about the potential health risks.

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__________ Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:00 am __________

Barairo was hanging out in the heat for 2 days straight which is odd. I wondered if the temps were too cool while we were having storms. It turns out she was using the large rock for shedding. Now she is all shiny and happily full of gerbil. I read about snakes taking weeks to shed, going off feed the whole time, having cloudy or blue eyes, and the potential problems. Barairo ate her usual meal, got a new house, shed her skin, and was ready to eat her next meal in an entire 6 days with only 2 of those showing different behavior.

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Re: I have a boa! major enclosure changes

Post Number:#10  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:59 am


I think she is significantly thicker than when you got her. Thanks for keeping us updated.

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Re: I have a boa! major enclosure changes

Post Number:#11  Unread postby akane » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:13 pm


Well part of that is probably a rather large gerbil for the size of the snake. :lol: I am still learning what she can eat. I realized too late to get it from her that it was quite a big meal but she worked it down, which was interesting to watch. Then I was waiting for her to regurgitate because I was told they do that if they can't digest the meal and apparently it smells horrible and lingers forever. Like everything else she's just taken it in stride though. I think she's just so much more comfortable and less stressed than her previous home that nothing bothers her. She sheds her skin, downs her giant gerbil, and curls up on the heat pad in her comfortable hiding place she never had in her last home. If I'd tried that pic the first day I'd have had a snake attached to my camera or one of the fingers holding the camera.
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Re: I have a boa! major enclosure changes

Post Number:#12  Unread postby heritage » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:37 pm


Go Barairo! And Akane! :cheer1: :cheer2: I don't think snakes have facial expressions, but she looks content ;)

Are you planning on keeping her for the long haul, or is this more of a foster type situation? I have no idea the life expectancy of a snake :hmm:
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Re: I have a boa! major enclosure changes

Post Number:#13  Unread postby akane » Thu Oct 13, 2016 6:18 pm


I plan to keep her but she's 3 and they can live 15-30years depending on care so kind of like many birds they are a lifetime pet if you don't rehome them at some point. A snake probably gets less attached to it's owner though. I was debating making the drive to volunteer at the parrot shelter a couple times a week because they have many there that just can't adjust to a new home so they need permanent help and enrichment.
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Re: I have a boa! major enclosure changes

Post Number:#14  Unread postby heritage » Thu Oct 13, 2016 6:43 pm


akane wrote:I plan to keep her but she's 3 and they can live 15-30years depending on care so kind of like many birds they are a lifetime pet if you don't rehome them at some point. A snake probably gets less attached to it's owner though. I was debating making the drive to volunteer at the parrot shelter a couple times a week because they have many there that just can't adjust to a new home so they need permanent help and enrichment.


My dad's second "parents" growing up had a parrot. When the husband died several years back the parrot would wander up and down the hallway asking "Where's Morris? Where's Morris?" - the bird (Rocky, I believe was his name) died shortly after :cry: . It was so sad.
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Re: I have a boa! major enclosure changes

Post Number:#15  Unread postby akane » Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:11 am


I figured I'd just keep adding here. You know once I convinced someone to let me have snakes it was not going to stop. I have been fascinated by them since I was a kid hunting garter snakes. I planned to stick with the little desert boas if I got more snakes (there are 2 morphs I want) but I ended up with a Dekay's brown snake. Little snakes from Canada to Texas that stay about a foot long and eat most anything slimy and some insects. They have elongated teeth and narrow heads for pulling snails out of shells and can't really bite humans. Which is good because she wasn't tamed. lol I just have to get over the thought of putting your hand in front of the face of a defensive snake. Well these guys are from a wide variety of places but mostly cool, wet, and with rock crevice for hiding. Right now in Iowa they would be going into hibernation below the frost line. They lost popularity in keeping because in a sterile plain cage setups that became popular for ease of sterilization they will never stop hiding but those who maintained more natural setups loved the little snake and I found many older keepers mentioned they still have a few around out of nostalgia. One person just keeps theirs in the isopod (aka pillbug aka rollie pollie) culture that they maintain to repopulate their tanks as cleaners. I thought this potential self sufficient ecosystem could be interesting. I made a soil mix to test, dried mulberry for leaf litter, and a branch. She's still in her large critter keeper with a led light strip for now. Sure enough she's been plenty active. She tried to check out the leds this morning when they came on until she got too many coils up there and fell over backward, visited the front to see me, and has been draping herself across her branch in various ways the rest of the day. With a cleanup crew to hunt she could be interesting and not needing heat I have her on the dresser in the bedroom to watch when I'm using my laptop in the morning and before bed. I have to figure out a drainage layer for this wetter style of substrate and a rock crevice design to get dry and hide. I still have two 6x6" marble tiles left I was thinking of ways to sandwich together and have her fit.

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