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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Substrate, Stress, Onboarding (This one is a bit complex sorry) HELP

    Strap in this ones a doozy... LOOKING FOR THOUGHTS, COMMENTS, AND ADVICE!

    I want to preface this with the fact that I've done a crap ton of research in prepping for my new BP, and that his husbandry is tight; ambient temps 78-79, cool hide sits just under 80, warm hide sits at 86-87 w/ hot spot of 91, humidity doesn't drop below 70% but nothing is wet in the enclosure (aside from the water dish).

    I set up my enclosure for my incoming snake about two weeks in advance and had heard people were liking eco-earth and I liked how similar it was to dirt, which seemed to me most natural. Had all the husbandry right and then when the snake came in (Wednesday, April 7th) we were ready to go. Little dude seemed good - was using his hides during the day and coming out to look around at night.

    I noticed on Thursday that he seemed to be getting substrate stuck in his mouth, I figured he was drinking and getting eco-earth stuck to his wet mouth. After researching what I should do to help him, it seemed like folks said to let him handle it himself. So I let him work on it and didn't wanna bother him during the first few days he was getting adjusted.

    Next day (yesterday), he comes out at night with substrate still stuck in his mouth and he's rubbing against the walls of his clear tub and yawning, which to my understanding is a sign of discomfort. Now I'm concerned because he has to breathe with his mouth a bit open to get air in past the substrate he's got caked in his mouth (now wet). I order some redichip (cocohusk w/ those bigger pieces you see in breeder tubs), and start researching how I can help this guy because I don't want him to be uncomfortable or to develop some sort of respiratory issue.

    This morning (Saturday, April 10th), I took him out, tried to wipe some of the substrate out of his mouth w/ a Q-tip, and gave him a couple gentle sprays w/ a stream from the sprayer I use for water. Little dude is under 6 months old and likely under 250gs but was fighting me HARD. I felt terrible trying to restrain him and he was really giving it everything he had to get out of my hands. Reminder this is LITERALLY DAY 4 THAT HES BEEN HERE. There is no doubt he's insanely stressed and not at all comfortable, and I haven't even considered feeding him (I'll likely offer food Monday, April 12th or Tuesday, April 13th).

    After I tried to get the substrate out (I got most of it but there is definitely still some in his mouth), I didn't want to keep restraining and stressing him. After trying to clean his mouth I put little dude into a separate tub while I cleaned his main enclosure and changed the substrate to the new stuff. I know he can breathe as I briefly listening to his breathing while trying to clean his mouth (no wheezing, crackling, gurgling, or hissing for that matter), so I figure some alone time for the next few days will do him some good. Knowing that he can't get those big pieces stuck in his mouth is relieving as I know he won't get MORE stuff stuck in his mouth, but I'm still stressed and wanna make sure my boy will be okay. Theres no doubt he hates me now and I'll probably spend the next year trying to build some trust back but that's its own issue.

    If anyone has any XP w/ stuff like this I wanna make sure I'm doing things right and making the right choices here. Please throw down your thoughts in the comments as well as potential next steps and things to look for in the next days. I really don't wanna poke around his enclosure at all for a while as these first few days at his new home have probably gotten 0/5 star reviews. Thanks for reading all that - I'm just trying to determine what the best next steps are or if I'm absolutely neurotic going crazy over nothing.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-10-2021 at 05:03 PM. Reason: When you want help, please make it easier to read, as I just did-

  2. #2
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    Not off to a very good start with this little guy & that's unfortunate. I know you're trying to give him the best care with substrate that holds humidity, but when you get a brand new snake, it's honestly best to keep them on plain white paper towels for a couple weeks, while you make sure they didn't bring any mites with them. Mites can hide & proliferate real well in other substrates.

    Is this your first snake? You did good setting up his home for 2 weeks ahead of time & getting temps dialed in, at least. But we highly recommend that once you've initially checked over a new snake that you do no handling until they've fed at least 3 times at normal intervals for best results. I know none of this was planned "handling" but it will be a minor miracle if he eats for you as soon as Monday or Tuesday after all this, and it's also best to let them "settle in" for a week or 2 before even offering food. Not all snakes react the same though, so time will tell if he feels like eating so soon. If he does, that alone should help any substrate left in his mouth get swallowed right along with the prey.

    Keep in mind that snakes cannot digest plant fibers (like wood chips & sticks) so on the one hand, Eco Earth is pretty safe to swallow- it won't plug him up. But the chunkier substrates are not digestible IF he should happen to swallow them; it's not common, but snakes can get constipated from being unable to pass such things, even to the point of needing surgical help- happily that's rare though. At this point, gently lowering his face into a water bowl might help the debris come out of his mouth, but that would take more handling- right now, there isn't any great option here, sorry.

    BTW, Q-tips are risky to use in a snake's mouth too- their teeth tend to get real stuck in them.

    I also don't think your snake 'hates you' nor will he hold a grudge- right now he's just afraid- to him, you're a predator that he figures is about to eat him, so try to reassure him when you do have to handle him- keep a light touch. And btw,
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
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    Re: Substrate, Stress, Onboarding (This one is a bit complex sorry) HELP

    I was aware of the no handling rule, but figured I'd regret not helping the snake if things worsened. This is my first snake but the research I've done and forums like this have been super helpful in getting comfortable with the situation. I'll give him more time before offering food - I'm gonna hold off on anymore handling at all. He'll get his face in the bowl to drink soon, so hopefully that helps. I appreciate the help, I figured he'd be okay but this has eased my mind forsure. I'll keep this thread updated with eating habits. Thanks again I'll keep a close, but non-invasive eye on him.

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    You'd think that any creature that crawls on the ground face-first would be able to spit & cough, wouldn't you? I hope he gets the rest of the substrate out okay, so you're both able to relax.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  7. #5
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    Keep calm. It'll be fine. 👍

    You don't need to maintain a 70% humidity at all times. Air flow is important. If you are using tubs, make sure air flow is a priority, especially with such high level of humidity. 50-60% humidity is fine, bumping it up during a shed temporarily.

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    Welcome to the forum. Now, if it was me, the noodle would go into a tub or box while I removed the substrate. Then I'd use newspaper, it's cheap an just roll up the dirty layer. If you keep the substrate an feed F/T put paper or a plate in the area your going to offer prey. Your guy hasn't figured out the bedding yet. He doesn't need a mouthful while your trying to feed him.

    Another way to help remove substrate is a soak, same thing for mites an stuck sheds. Use a tub (locked lid) an enough water to cover 2/3 of the snake. Temperate water is a must. If it feels warm to you it's too hot. With posable mites add two drops of Dawn soap. In a tub (locked lid) it's 15-30 minutes. In a bathtub it's you watching 100% of the time an letting the noodle slither on an threw a wash cloth or large wet towel (depending on size of snake). If you use a bathtub an answer your phone or read a book you'll turn around an be looking for your snake. Snakes act like they like the tub till they climb out.

    I'm sure your new guy will be fine. It just takes time.


    Good luck!

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    Re: Substrate, Stress, Onboarding (This one is a bit complex sorry) HELP

    Thanks for the comforting words - it looks like the little guy did end up getting most of the stuff out on his own. I also keep the fan in my room circulating (for the both of us) it gets warm w/ the forced air ducts firing.

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    Re: Substrate, Stress, Onboarding (This one is a bit complex sorry) HELP

    Quote Originally Posted by 303_enfield View Post
    Welcome to the forum. Now, if it was me, the noodle would go into a tub or box while I removed the substrate. Then I'd use newspaper, it's cheap an just roll up the dirty layer. If you keep the substrate an feed F/T put paper or a plate in the area your going to offer prey. Your guy hasn't figured out the bedding yet. He doesn't need a mouthful while your trying to feed him.

    Another way to help remove substrate is a soak, same thing for mites an stuck sheds. Use a tub (locked lid) an enough water to cover 2/3 of the snake. Temperate water is a must. If it feels warm to you it's too hot. With posable mites add two drops of Dawn soap. In a tub (locked lid) it's 15-30 minutes. In a bathtub it's you watching 100% of the time an letting the noodle slither on an threw a wash cloth or large wet towel (depending on size of snake). If you use a bathtub an answer your phone or read a book you'll turn around an be looking for your snake. Snakes act like they like the tub till they climb out.

    I'm sure your new guy will be fine. It just takes time.


    Good luck!
    Thanks for this I'll be sure to keep it in mind going forward. It looks like he got most of it out on his own so I'll put off any soakage for a little while to let homeboy decompress.

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    Re: Substrate, Stress, Onboarding (This one is a bit complex sorry) HELP

    Quote Originally Posted by beefontheboard View Post
    Thanks for this I'll be sure to keep it in mind going forward. It looks like he got most of it out on his own so I'll put off any soakage for a little while to let homeboy decompress.
    Rather than a full-body soak (I hesitated to suggest it because from your description, he was already quite stressed & snakes usually hate "soaks" because of the loss of traction) you mostly just needed to lower his face into water, as horizontally as possible. Even holding him so his face was passed under a slow running faucet may have worked, to get him drinking & rinsing his mouth. So, for "next time"...
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-11-2021 at 04:52 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: Substrate, Stress, Onboarding (This one is a bit complex sorry) HELP

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Rather than a full-body soak (I hesitated to suggest it because from your description, he was already quite stressed & snakes usually hate "soaks" because of the loss of traction) you mostly just needed to lower his face into water, as horizontally as possible. Even holding him so his face was passed under a slow running faucet may have worked, to get him drinking & rinsing his mouth. So, for "next time"...
    Totally - I tried that a day prior to the Q-tip endeavor; he didn't like the face dip very much either. That being said, its good to know going forward that it is semi-effective. I also had heard that snakes don't love the bath so I didn't want to put him through that during his first few weeks.

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