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  1. #1
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    The Story of Rose

    Hello everyone!

    I just wanted to share the story of Rose, my first ball python. Typically I would be happy to just post a picture for you all to enjoy, but this little ball has had quite the journey.

    You see, we picked up rose a few months ago from a big box store, at the time not knowing any better. When we got her, the advice we got from the store was to leave her alone in her new habitat for a week before interacting with her or trying to feed her. So we did.

    After a week we tried to feed her a frozen thawed fuzzy mouse, and she wanted no part of it. In fact she seemed to be very inactive in general, and just wanted to stay in her hide. Thinking "A hiding ball is a happy ball" we figured she just wasn't hungry, or maybe was still stressed.

    We called the store and their "reptile expert" told us to give it another week and try feeding again. So another week goes by, and still she doesn't want to eat. Knowing no better we let her go another week, again on the advice of the "reptile expert".

    At the end of week three she still didn't want to eat. Her skin was getting rough but there were no signs of a shed, and by now even I could tell something was wrong. After doing plenty of reading and watching quite a few videos, I decided to assist feed her.

    The assist feed went smoothly, and after 30 minutes of trying to spit out the fuzzy mouse she finally gave in and ate it. It took her another 30 minutes to get it into her belly.

    The next day I went to check on her, knowing she should be left alone for at least 48 hours, I removed the top of her hide just to see her, and she looked even worse. Hoping that the meal would settle in and help, I left her until the next day.

    Once 48 hours had passed, I finally took her from her enclosure. My heart immediately sank. Her skin looked like it was sloughing off. It was so dry. She could barely move. And worse, by now she had started showing signs of IBD. Stargazing and moving awkwardly, unlike when we had first brought her home. We feared the worst, and my wife and I cried watching her suffering.

    More reading online lead us to doing an electrolyte soak to try to rehydrate her. It helped her skin, but not seeing any improvement we decided it was time to take her to the vet.

    Later that day my wife and I braved the then-new Covid-19 scare to take her to see the vet. The news was not good. The doctor confirmed that she may have IBD, and informed as that she was severely emaciated, something that we had no idea about until then.

    The vet gave us the tools we needed to tube feed her and gave us a demonstration, with instructions to tube feed her every day until her weight came up. Something he was only comfortable with us doing since I had already successfully assist fed her. At this point she weighed a mere 52 grams, less than half of her healthy weight.

    For the next three months we tube fed her every other day, and slowly she gained weight, but with little cognitive improvement. Both my wife and I and the vet still feared she might have IBD.

    Then two weeks ago on what would turn out to be her last visit to the vet, we got the all-clear. No IBD, and her weight had come up enough for us to try her on some solid food. The only problem was, she still has some pretty severe neurological issues, and has a very hard time coordinating her movement.

    For the next feeding time we decided to get her a live pinky just to start her off easy. Sadly, she showed no interest despite scenting the room and terrarium for several hours before attempting to feed her. Not wanting to see her weight decline again we decided to assist feed her. We were very happy that she ate it quite hastily.

    A week later, much to our surprise, she went into shed finally! We quickly raised the humidity in her new terrarium (we got her one from Carolina Customs) and let her be. After about five days we awoke to find that she had shed in the night. Unsurprisingly she had some stuck shed on her head, which we attributed to her very uncoordinated movement. With some warm water and q-tips we very carefully removed the stuck shed. Part way through we realized that part of the stuck shed was over both of her eyes. Thankfully it came loose without too much trouble and without any risk to her. An hour or so later she was finally completely shed-free!

    Then it was feeding time,! We went out and got her a live fuzzy rat. Crossing our fingers we left it in the bag in the terrarium to get a strong scent going, and to our surprise she actually came out to investigate, but sadly showed little interest overall.

    With a deep breath we held the rat out with the tongs for her to see if she would try to take it. I held it for her for so long both of my hands cramped up holding the tongs, when suddenly she attempted a strike! She missed entirely, the poor thing, but it was the first time we had ever seen her take interest in food in three months.

    After another 15 minutes of holding it for her and three more failed strikes, I finally held it as close as I could without the rat being able to damage her, and she got it! With her coordination issues what ensued was a sad, albeit hilarious, time over her trying to kill the rat. At one point the rat almost got teeth on her, with a quick pull on the rat's tail let her get a good grip on it. And finally, after three months, we watched her successfully eat on her own. And on the day of her shed!

    Her weight is still only about 83 grams at this point (she should be around 110 by now) and she is still a little weak, but she is finally well on her way to being as normal as she can be. She'll probably have neurological issues the rest of her life, and I'll most likely have to baby sit her feedings and assist feed her occasionally, but for now we are so happy that she is finally out of the woods and will, fingers crossed, be with us for many more years to come.

    First day home, already emaciated:

    The day we took her to the vet, even more emaciated, spine is now clearly showing. This was after the electrolyte soak, she looked MUCH worse before it.

    After the first few feedings. Less loose skin, less spine/ribs showing!

    The first time she had any strength at all to do anything other than slither back to her hide:

    Today, during her first feed, and the day OF her first shed in three months!

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Arrbjorn For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (05-19-2020),dr del (05-17-2020)

  3. #2
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Hmm, something happened, your photos are not showing up.

    FYI, if she's willing & able to eat live baby rats, I'd personally keep going with that for now, even though live food is not ideal. It's important she keep on eating to get her strength back for healing whatever has caused her strange condition. But you mentioned the rat was almost able to bite her...I'd advise ONLY feeding her rat pups that still have their eyes closed. I HOPE you can get them on a regular basis? If their eyes are still closed & they aren't weaned yet, they won't bite back...only AFTER their eyes are open. Hopefully after a while (when she's further "out of the woods") you can get her on f/t rats of appropriate size...that's much easier to get supplied in a standard size.

    I would NOT advise letting her eat either rats or mice with eyes open (they bite back too) as she's not coordinated enough to defend herself well...heck, even snakes with NO physical impairment get bit sooner or later.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 05-19-2020 at 11:44 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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