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Thread: Behavior Chnage

  1. #1
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    Behavior Chnage

    Hi. I'm a frequent lurker of this group, but I have come across a situation to which I have found no answer. I will be as concise and thorough as I can, but I feel that there are many variables that may make my situation unique.

    Before I get into the situation, here is the info on his terrarium

    Husbandry
    2 hides, heating bad, water bowl big enough to bask in, a leafy green vine, two pieces of wood
    Substrate: Paper towels, though I have done newspaper, and aspin wood substrate in that past.
    Temperatures: Cool side ranges from 75-80 degees, warm 95 with the heating pad.
    Humidity: 50-55%. during shed I bump it to 60-65%

    General info:
    11-12 years old
    Healthy, no parasites, mites, and stool is normal.
    urinates and has BM about every two weeks
    Sheds normally and in full (most recent shed was June 29th)
    About 3.5 feet long
    Unfortunately no idea about weight.

    I have had Gibbs, an 11-12 year old BP for three years. He's been wonderful and I adore him. He was always so calm, chill, and would come to greet me occasionally. When I handled him, he loved to explore and and smell new things. I handled him about once a week.

    I had a problem with feeding for a while, I was told that he ate frozen thawed, but was never successful. He ate live in my care.

    As BPs do, he would be picky, or choose not to eat that day, so we had live rats in the house. Eventually, I had to try the switch again because we couldn't stand to have live rats waiting to die in the house. We also started to keep a few rats if Gibbs refused to eat for a long time (Leaving trauma rats).

    So, this past September he stopped eating live. I had to switch to frozen thawed because of the safety aspect and we couldn't keep taking in live rats. I didn't attempt to feed during his cycling months, but tried again to do frozen thawed. (I have tried many times since I got him). Through a tedious process of elimination and money down the drain, I finally found how to feed him frozen thawed in a manner that he would take it. He went 8 months without eating. and yes, he was very much so underweight by May. He has had a healthy appetite since, and has taken 100% of the food that has been offered. I feed him about once a week to once every other week. (I wait for hunting signs to I don't waste food).

    Something I feel I should mention, I didn't handle him hardly at all while he wasn't eating. I would pick him up to move him to clean his home, and handle for very short bursts if at all. I was afraid that he was stressed since he stopped eating and was afraid to add to it. In addition, I was afraid of a hangery snek might try to bite or confuse my hand or something as food.

    Within the past week or two, his behavior has completely changed. He isn't aggressive, but is HIGHLY defensive. He hissed at me (First time in three years) and every time he sees me, he looks at me in strike position. He only seems to his if I attempt to pick him up to move him, but his body language is still saying "back off". It has gotten to the point to where I am afraid to clean his tank. I literally just tried and got half of it done (the side that was unoccupied) before my nerves got the best of me and decide to wait until he switched locations. He hasn't struck yet, but I'm not trying to encourage/ask for that behavior. The first time he hissed at me, I just woke him up, for I figured he was just in a grumpy mood, but it seems to be his general attitude.

    This behavior kicked in AFTER he started eating regularly and after I also started to pay more attention to his husbandry to achieve optimal happiness and comfort.

    I also attempted to just touch and rub him while he is in his tank, just to get him used to touch again because I felt that maybe the prolonged period without handling has made him uncomfortable with it. I did this for about 5 minutes a day or every other day. This seems to have had no effect.

    It is now to the point to where I am afraid to approach him, clean his tank, or even try to handle him. I've used tips and tricks from this wonderful site and youtube to try to get him to feel more comfortable. I saw that if I just pick them up, they normally simmer down, but I'm afraid to even try to attempt that and also want to respect him as a snek.

    What should I do? How can I help? What am I doing wrong?


    What can I do? Halp!

    - - - Updated - - -

    In addition, he does have a heat lamp.

  2. #2
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    This may have nothing to do with it, but I'd keep his heating pad no higher than 90* where he can contact the hot surface inside his enclosure. It doesn't
    matter what the thermostat is set to (& I sure HOPE you're using one?) but what matters is where the snake can push away substrate & contact the hot floor.

    One thing that occurs to me that I'd want to rule out is that maybe he has a burned tummy from the UTH being so hot, & he's in pain. Cranky attitude can
    sometimes indicate a snake's physical pain or discomfort. Of course, you'll have to get a good look at his underside: is it pink? does anything look unusual?

    Goes without saying that IF you find this is actually the case, that his ventral side is injured (burned) you need to get him herp-qualified vet care A.S.A.P.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 07-29-2019 at 09:12 PM.
    Many friends in low places...

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    Re: Behavior Chnage

    Thank you for your reply.

    I checked with great discomfort to us both. Finally managed to see as he was wondering around between his two hides (on top). I did not see any pink on his belly. Granted, it wasn't the best look, but everything looked normal. I will still keep my eye out for this. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    In regards to the heating pad thermometer, I did have one, but just recently broke.

    I will buy a new one ASAP. I have been meaning to do it, anyway, but you definitely bring up a good point of possibly being too hot for him.

    I'm open to other ideas, as well.

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to Glocmar For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (07-29-2019)

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    Re: Behavior Chnage

    To clarify, he was strolling over the tops of the hides, giving me a relatively clear look on his underside.

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    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    So, is the heat lamp un-regulated too? The higher temps. that have resulted from the combination of the heat lamp & the overly-warm UTH might just be making
    him hungrier than you think...hunger also makes for a grumpy snake, & since you don't know his weight, it's impossible to judge if this might be an issue or not.
    If you've been lurking here for a while, I'm sure you've seen the oft-posted feeding chart for BPs? You might be unintentionally under-feeding him...?

    Apparent defensiveness also happens when snakes sense they're going into shed, & snakes can feel this change internally long before it's obvious to us. I know this
    because I've kept many snakes and for decades, in case you're wondering; after a while, we can see that snakes actually have a good reason for what they do, even
    if it's not immediately apparent to us. So keep this in mind for a while & see if he goes into a shed.

    It's important that you figure him out, because the best care results when the snakes we keep are not overly-stressed by our handling...handling which is essential to
    assess the health & well-being of our pets, & to make it easier to clean their enclosures. Is there anything else going on in your household that he might be reacting
    to? Kids teasing him? New pets lurking in a predatory manner? Remodeling or loud stereo going on? (snakes can't exactly "hear" but they sure do feel bass notes
    or hammering & similar activity) BPs are usually quite mellow by snake standards, so I hope you get this figured out.
    Many friends in low places...

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    Re: Behavior Chnage

    I will also try feeding him more. I will definitely look into the sources you shared.

    I really appreciate your input and I will work hard to try to ensure he is a happy camper.

    because yes, I agree. I need to be able to handle him and clean his tank, and today was the first time that I have not been able to do so without fear.

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    Just in case you can't find this, & why it really would help if you knew his weight:

    Many friends in low places...

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