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  1. #1
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    Question First snake, help/advice please?!

    Hey everyone, this is my first time posting on here. I recently got my very first snake on July 5th(so around 3.5 weeks ago). I had wanted a baby ball python for a few years now, had done lots and lots of research and I was super happy and excited when I brought my baby home. Unfortunately I must say, we didnít get off to a great start, which was surprising because I went to get my snake from a well reputed, exclusively reptile store in my area. I went in and explained that as this was my first snake, I was looking specifically for a healthy male hatching or juvenile that was a good eater and had good sheds. They brought out a beautiful baby and said he was their biggest hatchling male, and ate and shed without any problems but he only ate live. I asked about transitioning to f/t and they basically told me it wasnít going to happen with a baby bp. So anyways, as they were so well reputed I really had no reason to doubt them and brought my new baby home. However, in the past 3 weeks or so, Iíve already had to treat him for mites(which he came with as I have no other reptiles), and he had the hardest time shedding and had a pretty intact stuck shed. I soaked him in lukewarm water for 30 mins and tried to help him manually get it off but after a week of this, I took him to the vet this past weekend to learn he is actually a she, and she was very underweight and she had a whole other layer of stuck shed under this current layer!!!! The vet told me to start feeding her every 3-4 days instead of once a week, and showed me how to put her in a little container with damp sphagnum moss and then showed me how to help her peel her old shed off and we did this on Sunday night and got half of it off, and then after I put her back in her tank I saw that she was moving around rubbing on things and getting the rest off on her own. Iím happy to say she was able to get 90-95% off including eye caps and tail tip and just has a couple tiny patches on her back so thatís good news. The other really great news is, sheís been feeding f/t for me every single time!! Sheís a great eater strikes at the mouse within the first minute of offering.
    so on Tuesday, I decided to take her out for her first ďrealĒ handling session. I left her completely alone the first week aside from changing out water, and after that the only interaction I had with her was feeding every Saturday and taking her out to treat for mites and taking her out to soak for stuck shed. So seeing that she ate for me every time and she had most of the shed off and was acting like a typical bp should be(as in hiding most of the time and coming out to explore for a bit on some nights), I decided it was fine to handle and I had her out for around a half hour paying very close attention to her body language. The previpus times she had been out, she seemed stressed and trying to escape and was balling up, and even tagged me once. But on tues she was very calm and moving slowly and tongue flickering. She didnít seem tense(no heavy breathing, no hissing, balling up, running away) but she was really just crawling around my fingers and chilling in my hoodie. I also know for a fact she wasnít stressed out because I offered her her second meal of the week right after handling, and she ate it immediately and went into . But what Iím worried about is starting weds night sheís been sitting in her cave with her head sort of sticking out and seems to be on high alert. Every time I check on her or even walk by I see her follow my movement and when I go to change her water, she used to go back int her cave while I had my hands in her tank but now she stays sticking her head out and watches my hands. Is this normal and am I overreacting? Or is something going on with her?! The reason this is wierd to me Is because the only time sheís done this before is on feeding day as Iím defrosting the mouse next to her tank to ďget her in the moodĒ . But now thereís no mouse and I know sheís not hungry so is she stressed and freaking out??!? I havenít handled her since Tuesday night and Iím kind of nervous to stick my hand in her tank to tell the truth because Iíd rather not get bitten and constricted lol. She hasnít tried to do that yet when I changed her water but she was very intently watching my hands instead of hiding in her cave like she used to.
    as for husbandry, sheís in a ten gallon terrarium with two hides(one in each side), a mopani branch, and a large water dish., temps are 91-93 on hot side with the probe touching the substrate right next to her hide. On the cold side temps are 82-84. I have a digital thermometer on the hot side and I also verify with a temp gun several times a day. Her humidity used to be maintained at 55% but recently I try to keep it at 65-70% because of her shedding issues. She is in a glass 10 gallon long, with a mesh screen but I cover 75% of the top with a damp towel for humidity purposes and I use cypress mulch substrate with Damp sphagnum moss scattered around the floor and also inside her hot hide. Also I have the sides and back of the tank covered up and even cover up part of the front of the tank with the hanging part of the towel that covers the top.
    Iím sorry for the really long, possibly ranting post. Iím just a first time snake mom and I donít want to stress her out or make her unhappy in her new home. Also I think my confidence is shot because we had such a rough start with the mites and the stuck shed and Iím so afraid of doing anything wrong. Iíd appreciate any help regarding her new behavior as well as any advice or tips in general. Thank u!

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    First off, "reputable stores" don't sell snakes that are full of mites...

    Second, it's very hard to read your "wall of text"...please break things into spaced paragraphs in the future, assuming you want ppl to read & answer you.

    Third: your snake is merely hungry! BPs are ambush-predators and when they wait in the hide, just peeking out, that is how they "hunt". They are not active hunters,
    they just wait for clueless prey to pass by. Your warm & wiggling hand appears to be prey to her, so you may want to use "tap training" so you don't get tagged.

    Feeding f/t: good job getting your hungry little one onto f/t. Make SURE that mites don't come back...they often do. (how did you eradicate them?)

    Hunger: what size prey are you feeding? it might be too small & that's why she's so often hungry, but all in all, that's a "good problem" to have. Welcome!

    Posting: you posted the same thing twice (please don't do that) now a mod will have to remove the other one...it gets confusing if ppl happen to answer on
    both threads, not realizing there's another.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 07-31-2020 at 07:00 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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  4. #3
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    Re: First snake, help/advice please?!

    Thank you so much for replying. Iím sorry for the length and format of my post and Iíll space things out better in the future.
    That being said, yes I was extremely surprised that the snake had mites. I may have expected that from a snake from petco or pet smart or whatever, but the store I went to had great reviews online and I know three people who got their animals from there and they had nothing but excellent things to say. Anyways, whatís done is done.

    For treating the mites, I used Natural chemistry Reptile spray. I was thinking about using diluted ivermectin or PAM, but as my snake is very young(under 3 months old), I was worried about those treatments being to strong/harsh.

    Anyways I sprayed a white towel with the reptile spray liberally and put in down on the bottom of a tub, placed the snake on the wet towel and then sprayed her directly from the neck down. Then I got a paper towel heavily saturated with the spray and gently wiped her head/neck area and left her alone for like 10-15 mins. Finally I sprayed a little bit on a cue tip and wiped her pits/nose area and then I soaked her in a tub of water at 90 degrees for around 20 mins(to drown any remaining mites and also to wash the chemicals off her).
    Meanwhile I took everything out of her enclosure, threw away all wood, everything else first I sprayed with the spray including the tank itself. I made sure to spray into the corners and all over the inside and outside of tank and the surrounding area where the tank is kept. Rinsed the tank, and Then I used diluted bleach and sprayed the tank and her hides and water dish liberally with that and left for 15 mins and rinsed. then filled her tank all the way with HOT HOT water and soaked her hides/bowl in hot hot water for 30 mins. Then dried, and put everything back. Instead of cypress and moss, I put paper towels as substrate for a little under two weeks and added a humidity box with damp moss. I havenít seen any mites since. However i did switch back to the cypress and moss substrate when she was having a hard time with shedding.

    lastly, the shop told me she was eating a hopper mouse every 7 days, which I was following Every Saturday until this week. Starting this week I fed her a hopper on sat and again one on tues. which is why I found it odd she was still hungry on weds..

  5. #4
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Maybe this was just bad luck getting mites from that shop- they're VERY common from commercial establishments that get animals shipped from various less-reputable
    sources. I'd have been very skeptical of ONLY online reviews (since some businesses get their friends to post fake reviews) but your 3 friends were fairly credible. Anyway,
    "mites happen".

    Let's hope none of the mite eggs survived anywhere...stay vigilant. It's safer to keep a new snake on white paper towels for 30+ days, but here's hoping.

    You might want to size up her prey slightly. Probably just as well that you got a female instead of a male...they usually feed more reliably. Anyway, here's a feeding chart...most ppl here weigh their BPs to assess the right size & frequency of prey, & we aren't seeing your snake either, to know if she's too thin.

    Last edited by Bogertophis; 07-31-2020 at 07:46 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: First snake, help/advice please?!

    I was going to keep her on the paper towels for longer but I just felt really bad for her as she was having such a hard time with shedding and itís easier to maintain higher humidity with the Cyprus mulch substrate with damp moss scattered on top. But I have definitely been on the lookout for mites both on her and in her enclosure as well as on the surfaces she touches if I have her out(such as my clothes/blanket she crawled on, etc.) I really hope I donít see the mites again. When she did have them, she would soak in her water bowl very frequently and after I would see them floating. But she hasnít soaked since I treated her and no floaters so fingers crossed.

    as for feeding, the vet told me to feed her 1 hopper mouse every 3-4 days for about two weeks and after that up her prey size to 1 small adult mouse/week. which is what i started doing. So I fed her on Saturday and again on Tuesday. Does this sound about right? I donít remember her exact weight but Iíll weigh her next time i handle her. She is around 3-3and a half months old tho.

    Now for handling, can u give me some tips? Such as how frequently and for how long each time? Also what is tap training? I had a great time handling her the last time (on tues) and got the sense that she was getting comfortable being out and being around me but to be honest Iíve been a little nervous about her new ďambush poseĒ sheís been in and I didnít want to handle her when Iím nervous as I feel like thatís counterproductive. Iím mostly nervous about how to take her out of her tank when sheís sitting in high alert following my hand!! I know Iíll be totally fine once I have her outside of the tank and I feel like Iíve gotten to read her body language fairly well(I could tell she was stressed when I had her out to treat mites and to soak for stuck shed due to fast jerky movements, trying to escape, balling up, biting. But on Tuesday, which was the first time I had her out for the sake of handling, she was calm, moving slow, relaxed breathing, wrapping around my fingers/wrist instead of running for her life).

  8. #6
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
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    Re: First snake, help/advice please?!

    Congratulations on your new critter. I'm sorry you had a rough start with the mites. I hope that's all sorted out. I've heard really good things about Frontline for mite treatments.
    I'm not surprised that your snake is on high alert when you enter his enclosure. He's most likely looking for food. I think twice a week is a little on the heavy side and a 5-7 day feeding interval might be more appropriate.
    Hook/tap training is just a light tap/rub on the snakes head or body. It usually shuts off that feeding response and let's the animal know it's about to be handled or you're doing cage maintenance. You can use a snake hook, paper towel roll, wooden dowel, etc. Please share pics of your critter and setup when you can. Best Wishes.
    Last edited by EL-Ziggy; 07-31-2020 at 08:40 PM.
    3.2 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
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  10. #7
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    I'll be completely honest here....

    Like Bogertophis mentioned, that wall of text is extremely difficult to read. I honestly skipped over it for that reason.
    Punctuation and separation of thoughts are your friends, use them and you'll get more people reading your threads.

    I did come back and skim through though, and you're in great hands with Boger & Ziggy. Both are great keepers with plenty of experience and knowledge to share.

    Good luck with your new snake and welcome to the wonderful world of snake keeping!

    P.S. now that you're separating your thoughts I'm sure you'll get more replies. I know I'll be happy to help moving forward.
    ...life is beautiful...

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    Re: First snake, help/advice please?!

    Thank you. Iím about to handle her tonight and Iíll try tap training when I reach in to pick her up. I will post pics of her and her setup when I get home(so in an hour or so) and Iíll also weigh her if sheís feeling cooperative. Thank you so much for ur help!

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    Re: First snake, help/advice please?!

    Oh thatís interesting that frontline works for mites! I have a dog too so Iím very familiar with frontline. Itís crazy that it works for reptiles too! Iíve actually heard good reviews on several products such as ivermectin, Prevent a Mite, and even Nix lice treatment but I was so paranoid about her accidentally swallowing or it being too harsh for her as a baby so I went with the ďsafestĒ option I could find.

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