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  1. #1
    BPnet Veteran Megz's Avatar
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    Rat Escapes Ball Python Strike

    Hey guys,

    So today i attempted to feed my bp Roxy a rat. She didn't really want to move but she was ready in strike mode the whole time for the rat to get close. The rat got close and she struck but it jumped back in time and she missed. She stayed ready and waited ... and waited (it took awhile), but then the rat came close enough and she struck again. She managed to get it's neck and coiled around it. The rat was fighting back and I went in with the tongs to try and put then in its mouth so it wouldn't bite her. While holding it's mouth the rat continued to struggle and all of a sudden Roxy semi-uncoiled and the rat broke free and ran to the other side of the tank. Roxy stayed motionless so i touched her to make sure she was alive (she was thank god), but she was clearly discouraged and started looking for her hide. I removed the rat and took a closer look at Roxy to assess damages. She is not bleeding and she is slithering fine, however, she is very scratched up. I think she uncoiled because the rat was scratching her face too aggressively. I wasn't able to grab the limbs at the time as they were under her. Her face has a lot of lifted scales and her one eye is cloudy. I have seen her move both eyes but one is more clear than the other. Her body is pretty scratched up too but nothing too severe from what i looked at. To be honest i'm far more worried about her face. I checked her shed cycle and she is 28 days ahead, but her injuries and behaviour semi-suggest that perhaps she is shedding or preparing too. She doesn't display any noticeable shed-cycle features though (i.e. red belly, dull colour, lifted scales to the touch, foggy/blue eyes).

    My question now becomes:

    1. Should i 'get rid of' the rat and get a new one for her (perhaps this one is out of her league or maybe she is too discouraged)?

    2. Should i do something ahead of putting it in the tank with her (e.g. stun it, make it dizzy etc.)? <---- I don't judge i know a lot of people who use the stun method by knocking it on the head but I will say that this would be very hard for me to do because i love all creatures

    3. Should i feed her as normal again and just hope it goes well?


    If anyone has experienced this or has had a similar situation I'd love any input or advice you might have. This is the first time something has 'gone wrong' during feeding so it was just a bit scary for me and I know BPs are tough but i worry for my little girl ... well not little per se - she's 7 now

    Thanks for all your help in advance
    Roxy
    (1/2 Lesser - 1/2 Normal)

  2. #2
    Registered User sur3fir3's Avatar
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    be careful people will jump down your throat here for stunning your snakes food.
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  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran Megz's Avatar
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    Re: Rat Escapes Ball Python Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by sur3fir3 View Post
    be careful people will jump down your throat here for stunning your snakes food.
    Thanks for the note. I tried to be all inclusive with that part. I have NEVER stunned or hurt the food for my snake because as I said, I love all creatures too much. I understand the circle of life but I dont think i could physically ever hurt one. I merely posed all three questions so i could hear input from all angles and better understand people's experiences, problems, and solutions.
    Roxy
    (1/2 Lesser - 1/2 Normal)

  4. #4
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    If you're going to feed live you want to make sure the prey animal is well fed before feeding it to your snake. A well fed rat will be more sluggish than a hungry rat.

    Stunning is not a great idea because if the rat "comes to" it will be more under duress and will likely more inclined to frantically fight back.

    Another +1 for feeding F/T
    ...life is beautiful...

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  6. #5
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Strange that you just noticed (after trying to feed the rat to your snake) that your snake has one clouded eye? Maybe an old stuck eye-cap that you hadn't noticed
    before? That might be why your snake didn't strike as effectively.

    I agree on feeding either fresh killed or frozen-thawed. Had this been my snake (which it wouldn't have been since feeding any live rats other than pups is 1. too
    dangerous for the snake and 2. cruel to the rats, which are intelligent & personable pets too -I had pet rats long before I got into snakes, btw)...but "had this been
    my snake" I'd probably have dispatched (euth'd) the rat quickly & re-offered it while the snake seemed to want to eat, but being a BP, who knows if it would have
    been successful...it does sound as if your snake was not up to the task today, for whatever reason.

    I am not in favor of "knocking a rat on the head" or other methods to stun...unless you are really good at this (NOT an "animal lover") you are more likely to only hurt
    the rodent & not be successful. Much like- if you've ever taken medical training- when you try to use a sterile lancet to prick your own finger to draw a small blood
    sample, your brain automatically blocks you from doing it, knowing it will hurt, lol...& then you ask your classmate to do it for you & you do theirs.
    Many friends in low places...

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  8. #6
    BPnet Veteran rufretic's Avatar
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    I don't want to sound harsh but this was due to feeding error on your part.

    First off, you should never need to interfere with feeding. By doing so, she uncoiled because of your interference and that very well could be how the rat got the upper hand. BPs are very good at doing what they do and if they bite and coil, they get the job done even if the rat struggles.

    Now the one exception to this is if you tried feeding a rat that was too large for her to handle, which I don't know the specifics of this situation but it sounds like that could of been the issue in the first place.

    I don't have the feeding chart handy but look it up and make sure you're feeding the right size prey. Give her a week to rest and recover and then you can try feeding her again. Don't stun the prey, either kill it and then if she takes it, next time you can try to get her to switch to frozen thawed or continue to feed live but with the right size prey and let her do her thing. Getting a scratch or bite is unfortunately part of feeding live. Usually if feeding the correct size prey, this is rarely a problem, it is part of feeding live and by interfering you're only going to do more harm than good.

    Good luck with your next attempt, I hope things go smoother for you.

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  10. #7
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    Gas the rat (CO2). Sooner or latter feeding live adult rats will bite you. Bite you as in your snake losses an eye or worse.
    Since the rat got the better of your snake, let her have some time off. Treat the wounds to prevent an infection. When she acts hungry, gas the rat or break its neck. Use your tongs to hold an wiggle the rat.

    Now, for those that say "snakes eat rodents in the wild all the time without injury". I say "they" are wrong for two reasons.
    First, wild snakes ambush the prey in a larger area then a cage/enclosure. If the rodent gets loose it can run away. In a cage it has to fight or die.
    Second, wild snakes get injured an it leads to death because of secondary infections. While stationed in Panama I'd find messed up snakes. The older guys always said it picked too big of a meal. Fer-de-Lance, Bushmasters an Boas with one eye wasn't that uncommon. Heck, you'd find a dead young Fer-de-Lance near a dead cat or coati.

    Keep your snake safe an happy, kill the rat.
    Last edited by 303_enfield; 08-13-2019 at 09:00 PM.

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  12. #8
    BPnet Veteran Megz's Avatar
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    Re: Rat Escapes Ball Python Strike

    Thank you all for your help, suggestions, and feedback. After reading all the posts I will add a couple notes which might help further this along:

    1. When i got Roxy she was brought up on frozen/thawed rats. I fed her frozen/thawed rats up to small adult size but then she stoped eating them. No matter what I did or how i offered them she just wouldn't eat. After rea ding forums i had got her a live one to 'kick-start' her feeding again. She ate it and then went back to refusing to eat frozen/thawed rats. At that point i figured she had made the switch and since then i have fed her live. I would prefer frozen/thawed rats TRUST ME, both for her safety, my safety, lack of cruelty, and my own sanity lol .. but ever time i have offered (i offer her frozen/thawed here and there hoping she might revert), but she just refuses. I read that this 'switch-over' can be expected so if thats the case I suppose live or fresh killed becomes the only options. Has anyone else had any luck converting them back to frozen/thawed?

    2. I feed her medium adult rats none are ever wider than the widest part of her. I review they whenever i purchase to ensure they are not significantly larger than then prior. I understand the size dilemma and how the bigger the rat the harder it is on the BP, but i dont believe size is the issue on this one just because this one is the same if not marginally smaller than the others.

    3. The only time i interfere with the feeding process is if she misses the head as they will sink their teeth in and bite hard. I ensure not to interfere unless necessary which i know some of you might say it's never necessary to which i understand and see your point ... but i worry you know. This rat was really fighting her and she didn't have a good strike so i only went in to prevent the bite but this is not the first time i've done that and on the prior cases nothing bad has come about. <---- Don't get me wrong though I do understand how interfering could cause the issue experienced.

    4. I do check after every shed and I track her sheds as well. Her past shed went perfectly and the eye caps came off with ease so thats why the cloudiness concerned me, but that's also why i thought perhaps she's early on her next shed and they are beginning to lift maybe. Both eyes are moving and i had her 'look at me' so they work but one just seemed cloudier so maybe dust? Again i was a bit frantic so maybe it was nothing.

    5. I will definitely give her the time off that's a really good note. With regards to 'treating wounds,' any suggestions? She is scratched up (i.e. scratch marks and some lifted scales), but there is no blood so I'm not sure if there is anything to treat or how to treat it per se. Should i give her a batch type thing?


    Thank you all again for your wisdom and feedback it is all extremely helpful
    Roxy
    (1/2 Lesser - 1/2 Normal)

  13. #9
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Treating minor wounds (not deep) on snakes, you can use Betadine (povidone iodine- dab it on & let dry), Vetericyn (a topical & water-based antiseptic get that's
    made for use on snakes-probably won't find locally, so good to order & have on hand), or a little bit of Neosporin ointment (for human use- only use the NON-pain
    relief version on snakes & don't use too much...it's petroleum jelly-based & that can mess up future sheds if not used very sparingly.) Personally I would treat these
    minor scratches, even without bleeding, rat nails can have lots of germs & she might get a nasty infection. Don't wait long to treat either.

    Converting a BP to f/t prey takes patience: after thawing properly (until soft inside) in cold water, immerse briefly in very warm water, blot the water off, & many here
    have the most success with using a blow dryer to give life-like warmth quickly before offering (using tongs). Best time to feed is evening/night, when your BP is in his
    hide & peeking out. "Ambush predators"...remember? They want to pounce on unsuspecting prey that happens by their hiding place, so do make the rat too active &
    don't approach the snake with it (they don't volunteer to get eaten in the wild & that behavior can scare a timid snake). You want to elicit a little bit of "chase" from
    your snake, but don't expect him to run a marathon. Some snakes grab & constrict & then lose interest...you can try a re-warm...some BPs can be "royal pains".

    And don't offer too often if food is refused...that just adds stress & can make it worse. Let them get hungry...don't offer more than once a week, & every
    other week is fine.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 08-13-2019 at 11:38 PM.
    Many friends in low places...

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  15. #10
    BPnet Veteran Megz's Avatar
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    Re: Rat Escapes Ball Python Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Treating minor wounds (not deep) on snakes, you can use Betadine (povidone iodine- dab it on & let dry), Vetericyn (a topical & water-based antiseptic get that's
    made for use on snakes-probably won't find locally, so good to order & have on hand), or a little bit of Neosporin ointment (for human use- only use the NON-pain
    relief version on snakes & don't use too much...it's petroleum jelly-based & that can mess up future sheds if not used very sparingly.) Personally I would treat these
    minor scratches, even without bleeding, rat nails can have lots of germs & she might get a nasty infection. Don't wait long to treat either.

    Converting a BP to f/t prey takes patience: after thawing properly (until soft inside) in cold water, immerse briefly in very warm water, blot the water off, & many here
    have the most success with using a blow dryer to give life-like warmth quickly before offering (using tongs). Best time to feed is evening/night, when your BP is in his
    hide & peeking out. "Ambush predators"...remember? They want to pounce on unsuspecting prey that happens by their hiding place, so do make the rat too active &
    don't approach the snake with it (they don't volunteer to get eaten in the wild & that behavior can scare a timid snake). You want to elicit a little bit of "chase" from
    your snake, but don't expect him to run a marathon. Some snakes grab & constrict & then lose interest...you can try a re-warm...some BPs can be "royal pains".

    And don't offer too often if food is refused...that just adds stress & can make it worse. Let them get hungry...don't offer more than once a week, & every
    other week is fine.
    Thank you so much this is all very helpful. I will definitely look into some of the treatment 'medicines' you mentioned above and have some on hand as right now i don't have any to be honest. I will also be sure to try your suggestions when it comes to reverting back to F/T rats - you outlined a lot of great stuff for me to try so thank you so much
    Roxy
    (1/2 Lesser - 1/2 Normal)

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