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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    My male pastel BP is just over a year old. He is handled a lot...every day....has been ever since I got him as a baby.
    He was a gift to me from my son because he knew how much I liked his BPs.
    This is his 3rd shed since I got him. He has always shed complete skins easily.

    This time is different.

    He is shedding flakes of skin and is dehydrated and lethargic (compared to his usual lively self.)

    He ate about 2-3 wks ago, did a good poop a day or two later, then settled in to shed about a week later. (His usual routine).

    He has always had clean water available, but has never liked to soak. If I put him in lukewarm water, he gets indignant and gets out.

    His set up is good, I think? large tank with indoor/outdoor carpeting, a hide, a tree and a log for climbing, a rock to rub on for shedding, a water dish and a soaking tub....I don't use lights, I use a heating strip under the tank with a towel between the tank and the strip to prevent burns. His breeder didn't use lights, either, so I figured it was ok....

    He has always been healthy, shiny and lively, so I am very worried about him.

    Do I try the towel in the tub or just go right to the vet?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User CritterVet's Avatar
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    Never a bad idea to take in for a vet check.

    What are the temps and % humidity in the cage? Is he sluggish at night too?
    Would you breed a wobbler dog even though it had a cool coat?

  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran blackcrystal22's Avatar
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    Put him in a closed lid tub for about 20-30 minutes with luke-warm water. This will help rehydrate him and get his bad shed off.

    HOW big is this cage? Bigger is not better, it usually means terrible humidity.
    What are the exact temperatures of the warm and cool side as well as the %humidity.
    What kinds of hides are you using?
    Get rid of carpet substrate, it doesn't hold humidity very well and get's really nasty bacteria wise.

    The UTH you are using should not have a towel, it should have a thermostat hooked up to it to regulate the heat. Using a towel could very easily cause a fire. Lights are not recommended, so that's fine.

    They don't need 'soaking tubs'. They usually won't soak on their own, you have to keep the humidity up.

    Don't handle him for 48 hours after eating (I'm saying this because you said every day). How often are you feeding him and what are you feeding him?

    3 sheds in a year does not sound like a proper growth term.. at all.
    Last edited by blackcrystal22; 11-01-2009 at 03:49 PM.

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    Prohandlr (11-01-2009)

  5. #4
    BPnet Lifer Kaorte's Avatar
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    If the normal routine is only eating once every 3 weeks, then this snake is probably malnourished.

    What kind of prey items are you feeding him? How often?

    If you have a picture of his setup that could help us determine what needs to be fixed to prevent another bad shed.
    ~Steffe

  6. #5
    BPnet Veteran Darkice's Avatar
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    He is probobly starving. I feed mine every 4 days for the first year of their lives.
    How clean do you keep that outdoor carpet? That stuff is bad because it harbors tons of bacteria.

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  8. #6
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    Thank you to all who replied to my questions about "T"'s health. I appreciate the patient questioning...I was afraid I'd get slammed for seeming ignorant...

    Ok, here we go...

    I have a question about the "sauna" suggested....should he be put in the lidded box straight into water, or should there be a tub of lukewarm water inside the lidded box to create humidity?.... He really, really does not like to be immersed in water.
    Can he absorb enough water through his skin from humidity to rehydrate at this point, or should I just bite the bullet and put him in the water for his own good?

    He lives in a 55 gal tank, last meal was a live rat pup, (bopped on the head first). For some reason, and to my dismay, he absolutely will not eat dead thawed prey.

    I think until this dehydration, his weight was very good.....neither fat nor thin, he's round, no sinking or hollowing by the spine, no wrinkling anywhere......

    After he eats, I always wait at least 3 days to handle him....

    He used to have one of those little hollowed out log-like hides, but it was never private enough for him, then he outgrew it anyway.....now he has a small cardboard box that he usually likes, which is partially on, partially off the heat strip under the tank....but he seems to like to get under his carpeting a lot, which drives me crazy...why does he do that? I'm afraid he'll get cold on the bare glass, since the part where he goes under is at the other end of the tank from the heat source.
    What should I be using as a hide?
    I now realize that I'll have to cover the top of his tank...it is simply mesh, which I'm guessing lets out all the moisture and heat?

    Now the questions....(sorry)

    Should he be shedding more often?
    Does only 3 sheds in about 6 months mean he's not growing fast enough?
    How often should I be feeding him?
    What should the humidity % in his tank be?
    Should I get a heat light to go along with the heat strip or should it be one or the other?
    Is it really ok to have the heat strip directly on the glass under the tank? That won't be too hot and burn him?
    Where should his hide be in relation to the heat source?
    Same with the water....under the light or on top of the heat strip to creature moisture?
    Instead of the carpeting, what should I use for the floor of his tank? (I've never liked the i/o carpeting, it holds smells and never seems to get clean, not matter how much I rinse it).

    I know I have a lot of questions, but until today, I thought his set up was good, since he's seemed healthy. I adore this snake, and I will do whatever it takes to insure his health.

    Thank you all...

  9. #7
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    Oh, and if he needs to eat every 4 days or so, what should I be feeding him? Are rat pups too big? Cannot imagine him eating anything that big every 4 days...
    I've been reading husbandry threads today, and it seems that I've done pretty much everything wrong!
    A 55 gal tanks is too large, apparently? He can stretch out in it, and he cannot do so in a 10 gal tank...
    I checked out the photo of the viv posted by Jessticles, and can see why he got so dehydrated....his set up has no way to retain heat and moisture...
    Ok....so what do you guys suggest for the floor of the tank? And should he have more than 1 hide?

    Ok...enough for now...

    thanks again

  10. #8
    BPnet Lifer Kaorte's Avatar
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    I have a question about the "sauna" suggested....should he be put in the lidded box straight into water, or should there be a tub of lukewarm water inside the lidded box to create humidity?.... He really, really does not like to be immersed in water.
    Can he absorb enough water through his skin from humidity to rehydrate at this point, or should I just bite the bullet and put him in the water for his own good?
    If he doesn't like water, try using a damp wash cloth in the tub with a little bit of water. That way he isn't just sitting in water. Keep a close eye on him while he is in the tub though, just to make sure he doesn't drown himself.

    He lives in a 55 gal tank, last meal was a live rat pup, (bopped on the head first). For some reason, and to my dismay, he absolutely will not eat dead thawed prey.
    a 55g tank is way way way to big for a juvenile snake, especially one that is a picky eater and having bad sheds. The biggest tank a male ball python should be in is a 20g L.

    He used to have one of those little hollowed out log-like hides, but it was never private enough for him, then he outgrew it anyway.....now he has a small cardboard box that he usually likes, which is partially on, partially off the heat strip under the tank....but he seems to like to get under his carpeting a lot, which drives me crazy...why does he do that? I'm afraid he'll get cold on the bare glass, since the part where he goes under is at the other end of the tank from the heat source.
    What should I be using as a hide?
    If he doesn't use his hides, chances are he doesn't like them. Try using some opaque plastic containers with small holes cut out for entrances. Make sure they are low to the ground and fit the snake snugly inside.

    It sounds to me like you are not accurately measuring temps or humidity. You need to be measuring temps with a digital thermometer with a probe, right where the heat pad is directly on the glass. The snake is going under the substrate because he is cold.

    I suggest getting a properly sized UTH and a reptile thermostat to regulate the temperature to prevent burns. Also, ditch the carpet. It is impossible to clean and thus is a breeding ground for bacteria. You are better off with aspen bedding, newspaper, or paper towels.

    I now realize that I'll have to cover the top of his tank...it is simply mesh, which I'm guessing lets out all the moisture and heat?
    Bingo. And it isn't just the screen, that huge tank is also a big culprit.

    Should he be shedding more often?
    Does only 3 sheds in about 6 months mean he's not growing fast enough?
    That doesn't sound too off. From your initial post, it sounded like he shed 3 times in one year and he was a one year old snake. That would have been off.

    How often should I be feeding him?
    Once every 7 days, 10-15% of his body weight
    What should the humidity % in his tank be?
    50-60% and 70% during shed. Use a digital hygrometer, the stick on dial kinds are not accurate and can be up to 10% off.
    Should I get a heat light to go along with the heat strip or should it be one or the other?
    Get an accurate temp reading first. If your ambient air temperatures are not higher than 75*F, then I would think about getting a ceramic heat emitter or a second UTH.
    Is it really ok to have the heat strip directly on the glass under the tank? That won't be too hot and burn him?
    If it isn't being controlled, yes it could burn him. That is why all heating devices need to be controlled with a reptile thermostat
    Where should his hide be in relation to the heat source?
    He should have two hides, one for the hot side and one for the cool side
    Same with the water....under the light or on top of the heat strip to creature moisture?
    Over the heat source could cause bacteria to form in the warm water. It would be best to put it in the center of the tank between the two hides.
    Instead of the carpeting, what should I use for the floor of his tank? (I've never liked the i/o carpeting, it holds smells and never seems to get clean, not matter how much I rinse it).
    Bingo again. Paper towel is my substrate of choice. I mentioned a few other good ones above.


    EDIT: Ball pythons don't need to stretch out in their enclosures. They should spend around 90% of their time curled up in a hide box. They aren't really the roaming type.

    good luck!
    Last edited by Kaorte; 11-01-2009 at 06:48 PM.
    ~Steffe

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  12. #9
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    Kaorte,, Thank you!

    What a great source of information you have been.....thank you for sharing.

    His carpet is already gone...I cleaned his tank and put plain white butcher paper in it.

    I will move him to a 10 or 20 gal tank tomorrow, and get the appropriate heating elements, along with new thermometers. I only have the stick on kind now.

    I don't feed him in his large tank, btw...I put him in a small lidded container. I started feeding him live because when I first got him, I got anxious because he would not eat. Is it too late to try thawed again?

    Anyway, I will stop bugging you for now...you have given me plenty of homework!

    Thanks again

  13. #10
    BPnet Veteran 2kdime's Avatar
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    Re: Bad shed, dehydration, lethargy....Help!

    Just a quick idea.

    My snakes HATE water too.

    But ONLY when it's too warm.

    I get the tub going and temp gun the water until I get it right to 86 degrees until I fill my tub up for them to soak in.

    Anything hotter and they flip out

    Anything higher up than 1/2 way up their body and they can flip out.

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    Prohandlr (11-01-2009)

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