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  1. #1
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    Always trying to escape

    I recently bought a bigger cage for Mowgli (young ball python) its a pvc cage equivalent to a 40 or 50 gallon!

    But since I got it he has been trying to get out! Rubbing his nose up and down where the cage opens for a few hours at a time.
    I am afraid of him hurting himself buy rubbing his nose too much :(

    The cage is decorated with lots of fake plants, a big water dish, and three hides (one hide has a fake branch on it that he climbs on)
    Humidity and temperature is fine.

    Does he need more enrichment? I bought some fake reptile vines off of amazon today to see if that fixes it. I want him to be happy exploring his enclosure!
    Or is this just a thing all young ball pythons do? Should I even be worried?

  2. #2
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    Define "fine" (regarding the temps & humidity)? How are you taking the temps & humidity?

    Even if everything is "fine", new cages can be terrifying to a snake. Try to imagine you're a snake...you have NO idea where the home you "knew" just disappeared to, & you instinctively learn your way around in nature. So you keep looking to find your way "home". I know that giving a bigger home seems like a wonderful gift to a snake, but young ball pythons usually do best in "close quarters" because they feel secure- remember that they too have to worry about predators, so they hide a lot. This sudden change was probably (ahem) a "bad idea", even though well-intended.

    If you were keeping a rat snake or a bull snake, they'd be delighted with the new place, but BPs are ambush predators- they stay put rather than actively hunt for food, so I'd say he's more than a little freaked out. You're correct that nose-rubbing is a bad thing- your snake can end up with an abscess on his face or head & needing surgery. You might want to re-think this move, at least for now- especially if his needs were being met before??? Was he eating & shedding okay?
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 02-18-2021 at 05:13 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
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    Re: Always trying to escape

    Fine as in what they should be! 85 F warm side (heat mats for belly heat) and a cool side as well, humidity stays above 60 (65+ for when shedding) Temp and humidity is taken on multiple thermostats and thermometers and hydrometers! Both on warm and cool side. I check the temps and humidity throughout the day to make sure everything is working properly!

    That is true, big changes are scary for them, however he has been in the new cage since December and hasn't shown signs of stress (eating and shedding normally, his behavior is the same except for the nose-rubbing). He has lots of fake plants and hides scattered around to help him feel hidden and secure.
    I do plan on getting more 'decorations' for his cage in the future as well, more fake plants, vines, logs, etc to make the place even more crowded for him :D

    As I said before, he is eating normally, shedding normally, and acting almost the same as before, showing no other signs of stress or being freaked out.
    Before the cage change, I was having troubles keeping the humidity and temps right, because I had him in a 20 gal glass tank (which is HORRIBLE in Canadian winter D: ) I had to be constantly spraying the tank, and surrounded the outside of the tank in insulating foam. Plus Mowgli had outgrew the 20 gal and I felt like he needed more space to stretch out. Although, through all that trouble Mowgli was eating and shedding just fine in the 20 gal as well)

    (He eats every Wednesday, never has refused, and every shed thus far has been healthy and all in one piece!)

  5. #4
    Registered User WrongPython's Avatar
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    Re: Always trying to escape

    How long has this rubbing been going on, and how constant is it? How long has he been in this new cage? What was his old setup like? What are your actual temps and humidity? Do you happen to have a sliding cage door?

    While she's a different species, I have a somewhat similar issue with my Sonoran boa. She's a few inches shy of three fit and lives in a fully enriched and deck-out 4'x2'x2' PVC enclosure. She'll go through phases where she rubs her nose along the gap between the sliding polycarbonate doors and try to push her way out of the enclosure. It appears to be a hunger-based thing with her - she typically starts her pushing when she's feeling hungry and hunting, particularly after I feed another snake and she gets a whiff of their dinner. I'm starting to think that she's realized that her food comes in through the door/from outside of her cage, and she's trying to push her way out to go hunting outside. I've also fed her promptly when I noticed her laying against said door in the past, so it may be a learned begging behavior as well.

    Perhaps your royal may be hungry and looking around for food. He may also be curious about the smells coming through the enclosure door and be trying to push his way out to get a sniff. There's also a chance he may be feeling insecure in his new setup, though, and looking to get out. Perhaps you could try putting his old setup inside of his new cage and give him the option to go in between the two. Check out Lori Torrini's YouTube channel - she outlines how to do this.

    In any case, I'd recommend picking up a small bottle of Vetericyn Plus Reptile Wound and Skin Care spray to keep on hand to treat nose rubs. An untreated nose rub can develop into a serious problem. I was able to pick up a bottle for around US$14 and it's worth every penny.
    0.1 Sonoran Boa sigma​: "Adelita" ('19 Hypo het. leopard)
    1.0 Boa imperator longicauda: "Kuzco" ('19 het. anery)

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  7. #5
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    Re: Always trying to escape

    Quote Originally Posted by WrongPython View Post
    How long has this rubbing been going on, and how constant is it? How long has he been in this new cage? What was his old setup like? What are your actual temps and humidity? Do you happen to have a sliding cage door?

    While she's a different species, I have a somewhat similar issue with my Sonoran boa. She's a few inches shy of three fit and lives in a fully enriched and deck-out 4'x2'x2' PVC enclosure. She'll go through phases where she rubs her nose along the gap between the sliding polycarbonate doors and try to push her way out of the enclosure. It appears to be a hunger-based thing with her - she typically starts her pushing when she's feeling hungry and hunting, particularly after I feed another snake and she gets a whiff of their dinner. I'm starting to think that she's realized that her food comes in through the door/from outside of her cage, and she's trying to push her way out to go hunting outside. I've also fed her promptly when I noticed her laying against said door in the past, so it may be a learned begging behavior as well.

    Perhaps your royal may be hungry and looking around for food. He may also be curious about the smells coming through the enclosure door and be trying to push his way out to get a sniff. There's also a chance he may be feeling insecure in his new setup, though, and looking to get out. Perhaps you could try putting his old setup inside of his new cage and give him the option to go in between the two. Check out Lori Torrini's YouTube channel - she outlines how to do this.

    In any case, I'd recommend picking up a small bottle of Vetericyn Plus Reptile Wound and Skin Care spray to keep on hand to treat nose rubs. An untreated nose rub can develop into a serious problem. I was able to pick up a bottle for around US$14 and it's worth every penny.
    Been going on for a few weeks now, happens almost every night, except the nights after I have fed him. Hes been in the cage since Christmas. His old setup was a 20 gal, when I first moved him I kept the setup sort of similar except further apart (bigger cage, more room between hides) and then added a extra hide and more fake plants. The cage door opens downwards, not sliding!

    sounds like what Mowgli is doing, trying to push his way out. Could be a learned behavior like you said, I have also fed Mowgli when he was against the door. He knows its the way out of the cage and where food comes from as well.

    He could be hungry! He is a very curious snake as well, he could be trying to explore/sniff whats outside the cage

    I've never heard of that! I will keep my eye out for it and pick some up when I can! I check on him almost daily and haven't noticed any wounds/changes on his nose so hopefully I can help fix this before anything does happen

  8. #6
    Registered User WrongPython's Avatar
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    Re: Always trying to escape

    Thanks for the additional info.

    If your boy is being feed every week and he's trying to push out every night, his pushing probably not hunting/hunger-related. He's probably either nervous (in the manner that Bogertophis described) or looking to poke around outside of his enclosure. The next time you have him out, let him have a little supervised explore/sniff time to himself, instead of active handling. If he spends a lot of time poking around the room on his own and checking things out, natural curiosity may be a factor. If he just sits there when left to his own devices, it's probably not.

    Try re-arranging his cage's layout to push the hides and cover (ie. fake plants) closer together. Arrange things so he has one hide in each thermal gradient zone (ie. warm, middle, cool) and a continuous stretch of cover that he can hide under when moving better hides. Definitely provide more clutter, hides, and cover is nervousness is at play here! Double-check and make sure your ambient temps aren't too warm while you're at it; there should be at least one cool part of the enclosure where ambients are 75 F/24 C.

    Another thought: how often do you normally handle your royal, and how old/young is he? In general, it's a good idea to give snakes a week or two of "hands off" time to allow them to adjust to a move/new enclosures. If you've been handling him a lot since you've put him in his new enclosure, he may might not have had a chance to properly settle in to his new digs and be a little stressed/nervous as a result.
    0.1 Sonoran Boa sigma​: "Adelita" ('19 Hypo het. leopard)
    1.0 Boa imperator longicauda: "Kuzco" ('19 het. anery)

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  10. #7
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    Re: Always trying to escape

    Quote Originally Posted by WrongPython View Post
    Thanks for the additional info.

    If your boy is being feed every week and he's trying to push out every night, his pushing probably not hunting/hunger-related. He's probably either nervous (in the manner that Bogertophis described) or looking to poke around outside of his enclosure. The next time you have him out, let him have a little supervised explore/sniff time to himself, instead of active handling. If he spends a lot of time poking around the room on his own and checking things out, natural curiosity may be a factor. If he just sits there when left to his own devices, it's probably not.

    Try re-arranging his cage's layout to push the hides and cover (ie. fake plants) closer together. Arrange things so he has one hide in each thermal gradient zone (ie. warm, middle, cool) and a continuous stretch of cover that he can hide under when moving better hides. Definitely provide more clutter, hides, and cover is nervousness is at play here! Double-check and make sure your ambient temps aren't too warm while you're at it; there should be at least one cool part of the enclosure where ambients are 75 F/24 C.

    Another thought: how often do you normally handle your royal, and how old/young is he? In general, it's a good idea to give snakes a week or two of "hands off" time to allow them to adjust to a move/new enclosures. If you've been handling him a lot since you've put him in his new enclosure, he may might not have had a chance to properly settle in to his new digs and be a little stressed/nervous as a result.
    No problem!

    When he is out of the cage he pokes around and explores, lifting up his head to look around as well! He is a very curious little guy

    He has that! A hide on the cool, middle, and warm side of the cage along with fake plants that he hides under! I am going to purchase more hides/plants/vines on amazon soon as well!

    He had lots of hands off time while he was adjusting! I do check his health now and again (a quick pick up, check his belly, nose, eyes, etc to make sure everything is looking good) and let him explore/handle him at least twice a week. He is very young, I have had him for 6 months now and is still small but growing fast!

  11. #8
    BPnet Veteran nikkubus's Avatar
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    Okay so you got him around Aug, moved him in late Dec, rubbing just started late Jan?

    What has the temp of your house done between Dec and Jan? Is it going up or dropping? I feel like that has something to do with it unless there is something else you can think of that changed late Jan. While settling in can cause that behavior, it would seem weird for him to not be doing that at the very beginning of the move and then starting to do it.

    What are your cold side temps at? Perhaps he can't find a good place to cool off? Got a decent size water dish in there on the cool side? What about lighting? Is it possibly too bright for him? I'm trying to think of any little details I can, but a pic of the enclosure would help.
    7.22 BP 1.4 corn 1.1 SD retic 0.1 hognose

  12. #9
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    Re: Always trying to escape

    Quote Originally Posted by nikkubus View Post
    Okay so you got him around Aug, moved him in late Dec, rubbing just started late Jan?

    What has the temp of your house done between Dec and Jan? Is it going up or dropping? I feel like that has something to do with it unless there is something else you can think of that changed late Jan. While settling in can cause that behavior, it would seem weird for him to not be doing that at the very beginning of the move and then starting to do it.

    What are your cold side temps at? Perhaps he can't find a good place to cool off? Got a decent size water dish in there on the cool side? What about lighting? Is it possibly too bright for him? I'm trying to think of any little details I can, but a pic of the enclosure would help.
    Dec-Jan outside temps have gone up and then down, and then up again

    Cold side goes down to 75 F, big water dish, I have LED lights on in the day, at night I turn them off (lights are off when he starts)

    Could it be that he wants out to explore though? He knows that the enclosure opens there.

    I also stuffed paper towel in the tiny gap between the door and the cage and that stopped him from rubbing his face, but he was still poking his nose all along the door

  13. #10
    BPnet Veteran nikkubus's Avatar
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    In my experience BPs don't do it because they want to explore. In every situation I've encountered this with BP's it has been because the enclosure was too big or temps were off. What is the height in this enclosure? Even more than floor space, too much vertical space really tends to trigger this behavior, though a 20g is already pretty tall for a 6 month old BP. It still throws me off because he seemed fine in it for a while, but it very well could be that the initial move freaked him out enough to stay as hidden as possible, and he has now gained the bravery to try and escape to a more suitable environment. It may be worth just putting him back in his old enclosure to see if that makes the behavior stop, but before you resort to that, I'd go ahead and try to add a lot more clutter to see if that is good enough for him to calm down. You want almost every part of the floor covered with something he can be hiding in rather than spots that are bare and he feels exposed.
    7.22 BP 1.4 corn 1.1 SD retic 0.1 hognose

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