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  1. #1
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    Is there any way I can help my snake?

    First off I just want to make a say Rose does not have IBD. She has been under the care of a veterinarian that specializes in snakes for three months and has been given the all-clear.

    That being said, poor Rose does have cognitive issues caused be her almost starving to death. She was my first snake, I got her from a big box store and got some very bad advice, and thanks to a very good veterinarian we were able to nurse her back to health.

    You can see in the video below that she is extremely uncoordinated. She will often move parts of her body that she doesn't mean to. Frequently she will curl parts of her body into a tight spiral. It's not uncommon for me to see her with three or four tight spirals down her body.

    She just had her first successful feed since I got her a few days ago, and I noticed that she had extreme difficulty getting into striking position. She missed with three strikes before I was able to get the rat close enough to her for her to grab it. Once she had it she didn't get a good grip on it and sadly was unable to until I assisted her, but she got it quickly on her second try. I was feeding her a live fuzzy rat.

    You can also see in the video that at times she is quite capable of moving normally, and others not so much. If I do the upside-down test, sometimes she finds her way right-side-up quickly, and other times (as in the video) it takes her a little bit to get it.

    She also cannot seem to "ball" appropriately, and will instead end up in several tight individual coils instead of one big ball. I never find her in a ball in her enclosure either.

    When I first remove her from her enclosure to handle her she will squirm very quickly and is very reactive to movement which will cause more rapid wriggling until she has settled down, which only takes a minute or two. For reference I had been handling her about 3-4 minutes when I started shooting the video.

    Can anyone help me understand what exactly is going on with her, and tell me if there is anything I can do to help her? Any kind of snake rehab (as stupid as that sounds)? My vet just chalked it up under "permanent cognitive issues" and didn't get very specific.


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    Bogertophis (05-20-2020)

  3. #2
    BPnet Veteran Aerries's Avatar
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    Re: Is there any way I can help my snake?

    Exposure to chemicals? Over heating? Was she like this when you purchased her? This is a normal with no spider gene to point a finger to so this had to be caused by some external origin or a really bad fail to thrive that should have been pts after hatching imo. I’m curious to hear from others, and I’m not understanding your vet giving the all clear when clearly there is something wrong. But I digress I’m not the expert here, just confused on a lack of diagnosis as only being “permanent cognitive issues” with no underling cause to it.


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    dr del (05-21-2020)

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    Re: Is there any way I can help my snake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerries View Post
    Exposure to chemicals? Over heating? Was she like this when you purchased her? This is a normal with no spider gene to point a finger to so this had to be caused by some external origin or a really bad fail to thrive that should have been pts after hatching imo. I’m curious to hear from others, and I’m not understanding your vet giving the all clear when clearly there is something wrong. But I digress I’m not the expert here, just confused on a lack of diagnosis as only being “permanent cognitive issues” with no underling cause to it.


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    She literally was hours from death when we took her to the vet. She was so emaciated her scales were dried out and falling off and she was NOT shedding. I'm sad to say she suffered for weeks before we realized there was something seriously wrong.

    Then she spent three months having a tube stuck down her throat every other day to get her weight up and strength back so she could eat a normal meal.

    So yeah, I'm sure there's some trauma lol.

    I posted her whole story here --> https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...-Story-of-Rose

    As far as "was she like this when we got her", no she didn't. She developed this behavior after being at deaths door, and it simply hasn't gone away as she's recovered.
    Last edited by Arrbjorn; 05-19-2020 at 10:51 PM.

  6. #4
    BPnet Veteran Aerries's Avatar
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    Re: Is there any way I can help my snake?

    Fecal was done I assume? Pythons dont/shouldn’t loose weight to that extreme in such short time. Three weeks is nothing, my boy didn’t eat for 6 months lost only 20g during that time ( but of course he was much larger. But even then....something doesn’t add up.


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    Re: Is there any way I can help my snake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerries View Post
    Fecal was done I assume? Pythons dont/shouldn’t loose weight to that extreme in such short time. Three weeks is nothing, my boy didn’t eat for 6 months lost only 20g during that time ( but of course he was much larger. But even then....something doesn’t add up.


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    Yep, fecal was done and was clear. We have no idea how long she didn't eat. The breeder didn't say when she ate last when they sold her to the store and she didn't take a meal at the store and was there for quite some time from what I understand. When I got her she was already emaciated enough to see her ribs and her skin was so loose you it would fold over itself along her body horizontally. I just didn't know any better because she was my first snake, I thought she was fine. For all I know she could have not eaten since she hatched.

  9. #6
    BPnet Veteran Aerries's Avatar
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    Re: Is there any way I can help my snake?

    Ouch yea, now I see the bigger picture now, yea when your dealing with petco, petsmart and the like they really don’t keep contact with their supplier and the supplier wont keep detailed record of their snakes that they “discard” to the box stores, trust me I’ve tried. Least out here in central Florida. There are far too many unknown factors, just ensure you look at our detailed files for new owners, ensure that your setup is correct and try and give your snake the best possible life you can give her. What does your setup look like?


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  11. #7
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Besides being over-heated she might instead have been over-exposed to mite killing chemicals...they can cause neurological damage too. Poor little snake...

    Many BPs that are sold to pet stores don't do well, as often staff is not experienced enough or have the space to do things the right way, much less the time or patience
    to get them to eat properly.

    Her body weight looks pretty good now, but I can see why your vet gave it the label that he did. You have a "special needs" snake, whatever caused this you may never know for sure...but it's best she stays in a low-stress environment...other than that, not much you can do.

    And for what it's worth, I'd have tube-fed her too. to your vet...
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 05-19-2020 at 11:27 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  13. #8
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    Re: Is there any way I can help my snake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerries View Post
    Ouch yea, now I see the bigger picture now, yea when your dealing with petco, petsmart and the like they really don’t keep contact with their supplier and the supplier wont keep detailed record of their snakes that they “discard” to the box stores, trust me I’ve tried. Least out here in central Florida. There are far too many unknown factors, just ensure you look at our detailed files for new owners, ensure that your setup is correct and try and give your snake the best possible life you can give her. What does your setup look like?


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    Here's a picture of her enclosure. Lots of places to hide, some vegetation so she can feel sneaky if she wants. Nice big water bowl she can soak in if she needs (she did this a lot while trying to shed). 150w CHE keeps the warm side between 88-91, cold side gets down to about 75. Humidity is between 65% near the substrate to 50% on top of the hides during normal periods, and I made it ~85% near the substrate and ~75% above the substrate during her first shed cycle with an additional 100w CHE to keep the temps in the usual range. The increased humidity was pulling the temps down.


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  15. #9
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    The more I think about how dehydrated she was, I think it's most likely that the pet store treated her (& probably all their snakes) for mites. She was likely over-exposed to whatever chemical they used and it took a while for symptoms to manifest. Your initial photos aren't showing up but it would be EASY for anyone new to snakes not to realize how dehydrated a new snake is...and btw, that's why snakes die from mites. Mites dehydrate them (suck out their blood) & when they're so numerous (their numbers can explode exponentially)snakes (esp. small ones) can easily die- from dehydration, heart/organ failure & shock.

    Obviously she survived, but not without damage: I'm just guessing at what makes sense to me, but the first few weeks you had her & she wouldn't eat, it was because she was feeling poorly from the mites & treatment, & without you really pushing fluids on her she just languished & became more dehydrated + weak from not eating or drinking. (Their warm cage temps. also contribute to dehydration if they don't drink water or eat.) If she was a human, she should have been in the hospital ICU, but because she's a pet snake, she was sold to you, an unsuspecting pet-buyer. Anyway, that's my very best guess as to what happened...but what I cannot tell you is whether or not she'll improve after all this, but your "TLC" should give her the best life possible.

    BTW....
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 05-20-2020 at 12:02 AM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  17. #10
    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    If you feel that this little one can enjoy sufficient quality of life to continue working with her (and I think only you can answer that question, as you know her), then I'd suggest maybe setting her husbandry up in the same way that folks do if they happen to own one a BP with severe wobble. Hopefully others can chime in with suggestions here, but overall it'll be important to keep her environment as low-stress as possible - so be sensitive about about relative brightness of ambient light she's exposed to, keep her exposure to outside stressors minimal by blacking out three sides of her enclosure, be absolutely sure she isn't overheated (and there is at least tentative evidence to suggest that snakes with severe wobble may do better at somewhat lower ambient temps, but this isn't definitive), and perhaps make sure that her enclosure isn't too tall or that it has enough clutter and cover to ensure that she doesn't have to process a lot of visual height information. Finally, you already know she'll require significant assistance with feeding. Best of luck to you and little Rose - she's a lovely little snake and it breaks my heart knowing that such a wee one has been through so much.
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