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  1. #1
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    Dumerils Boa Afraid of Rats (Any size). How to switch from mice to rats?

    Hey so here is the deal.

    I have a one and a half year old Dumerils boa (about 3 and half feet long). Currently he only will eat live mice. My biggest concern is that he is growing at a steady rate and now eating jumbo mice, but as he grows I don't want to have to feed him multiple mice at a time and would rather have him eating rats. Once I am able to switch to rats, I plan to transfer to F/T. However, my Dumerils is terrified of any rat, no matter the size.

    Whether it is a rat pinky, pup, anything, he immediately tenses up and rears up on the side of his enclosure as soon as the rat is placed inside. At most, if the rat gets anywhere near him he will strike at it defensively but will retreat away. Now, I have had this guy since he was born and know for a fact that he has never had a bad experience with a rat or anything where he was bit, so I cant see why is is so afraid. But for some reason he is terrified of them. With live mice, he is super aggressive. As soon as they are in the enclosure he seeks them out and grabs them right away. He doesn't wait to ambush.

    To try and switch him over to rats, I have already tried the following (most of these have been attempted multiple times):

    - Scented a rat pup with a live mouse (both leaving them in a bag together for over an hour and literally rubbing the mouse all over the rat pup)
    - Placed a rat pup in dirty mouse bedding for an hour
    - Waited a month between feedings, and then presented with a rat pup (also scented with a mouse).
    - Freshly killed rat pup
    - Brained F/T rat pups
    - F/T rat pup with mouse brain on them
    - Placed him in small tub with F/T rat overnight.
    - Placed a live mouse in enclosure and then tried to switch out a rat after he showed interest.
    - Gave him a small live mouse and then introduced a small live rat right after.

    Using all of these methods, the best reaction I ever get is a few times he will get closer to the rat. But as soon as he is within a few inches he flicks his tongue and then either shows no interest or backs up defensively again.

    This has obviously been an ongoing thing, but I try to space attempts out because he seems to get so stressed when he smells a rat.

    Any ideas would be appreciated. Has anyone else had a similar issue?

  2. #2
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    If that was my snake, I'd want him feeding on pre-killed mice first, & only then, switch to rats, as it will be easier to impart the scent of mice to the dead rat, with none of the danger. (FYI, I've always loved the look of Dumeril's boas, but never worked directly with one.)

    I'd avoid feeding jumbo mice on a regular basis, if at all, as they're very high-fat. Not only might that not be so healthy (risking "fatty liver disease" for the snake) but when your snake eats those, he might (?) feel full longer & be less likely to eat for you.

    With eyes open, both mice & rats are a danger to snakes, but far more from rats. Your snake's instincts (fear) are correct, & personally I'd rather feed mice any day than rats- I'd probably stick with mice, but since I breed my own mice, I always have too many anyway. I can sorta sympathize with your snake- I'm pretty opinionated about what I eat too. It's possible you'll never change his opinion about rats.

    Seems you've already tried many things- how about a f/t rat pup that was thawed directly IN cool water- that helps to wash off the rat's scent. FYI- one kind of snake I have success with is Texas & Western Longnose snakes, which are not rodent eaters by choice. In the wild, they prefer small lizards & even tiny snakes as food. My longnose snakes (one I have now that's about 20 years old, as well as ones I've kept in the past) ALL eat pinkie & fuzzy mice- always f/t & always thawed directly in water to wash off the mouse flavor. Once you've washed off the rodent's natural scent, then add the scent of the desired type of rodent. The best mouse scent is going to be from very dirty used litter from live mice- with plenty of urine & fecal material from the mice. (I know, yuck...but you might ask the pet store if they have any nasty litter they'd let you have.)

    *(Even if you're trying a live rat pup, you should bathe him first to minimize his own rat-odor, before trying to add mouse scent.)

    But I think what I'd try is going from the live mice, to a f/t rat pup, thawed-washed in water- then well-scented from mouse litter.

    Figuring better luck with him eating overnight- you could also try a live rat "crawler" (eyes CLOSED, & washed & scented) in a large weighted bowl that's deep enough so the rat cannot crawl out- some fearful snakes that I've worked with feel braver if they can see/study the rodent while staying out of reach for a while.
    I've even seen this work with a young BP- given an arching branch (driftwood) that allowed the snake to study the crawler from overhead- the snake felt much braver. The combination of plenty of time, darkness, moving target & plenty of the right scent, might just work. You could even add a live mouse fuzzy or a couple- it might help convince him? Good luck!

    I've never found any use for "brains" or from "braining" dead rodents (yuk), but to add more scent, I may pinch-damage the nose of a dead rodent to release more scent as needed, & that also helps the snake to target the rodent's nose.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 09-15-2022 at 05:35 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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    Re: Dumerils Boa Afraid of Rats (Any size). How to switch from mice to rats?

    Thanks for the reply. I'll try the methods you recommended and update the post as I go along.

  5. #4
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    Re: Dumerils Boa Afraid of Rats (Any size). How to switch from mice to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jwdillon View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I'll try the methods you recommended and update the post as I go along.
    I hope something works for you & this snake- some snakes really try our patience for a long time. Pity we're not neighbors, I'd happily give you some used mouse substrate!

    (You know, I use it also- for the mice- when I have to change around some of the pairings- I make sure the "new partner" smells familiar...otherwise they sometimes attack each other.)

    And btw, about leaving a "crawler" overnight in a large bowl- that also keeps the rodent from hiding somewhere in the substrate, & other "fails" (like when the snake gets a mouthful of substrate, then spits the whole thing out & gives up.) Giving the snake good privacy may help him too, & making sure he's really hungry.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 09-15-2022 at 06:02 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    I agree that you should try to get your Dumeril's eating F/T rodents or chicks as soon as possible.

    But here are some other prey options for your Dumeril's Boa.

    African Soft fur Rats - since they are up to the size of small adult regular rat (about 60-85 grams) - yet ASF rats do not smell like normal rats.

    Guinea pigs - this can be up to jumbo rats in size, yet also don't smell like normal rats. May be $5-6 each

    Rabbits - often young rabbits are similar in size to adult rats. Yet they don't smell like rats. Often $12-15 each

    Quail - Dumeril's are said to love Quail, because they may be similar to their natural prey in Madagascar. Often similar in price to rats.

    Chicks/Chicken - similar to Quail, except larger & often cheaper. May be similar price to mice.
    Last edited by Krj2501; 09-16-2022 at 01:08 AM. Reason: adding text
    Snakes
    1.0 Pure Hog Island Boas (Boa imperator) - "Boss"
    0.1 Tamaulipas Cloud Forest Boa (Boa imperator) - "Elena"
    0.1 Ivory/Super YB Ball Python (Python regius) - "Ivory"
    1.1 Cape York Spotted Python (Antaresia maculosa) - "Irwin & Iris"
    0.1 Dumeril's Boa (Acrantophis dumerili)

    Lizards
    0.1 Yellow Ackie Monitor
    (Varanus acanthurus) - "Gigi"

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  9. #6
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    Re: Dumerils Boa Afraid of Rats (Any size). How to switch from mice to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krj2501 View Post
    I agree that you should try to get your Dumeril's eating F/T rodents or chicks as soon as possible.

    But here are some other prey options for your Dumeril's Boa.

    African Soft fur Rats - since they are up to the size of small adult regular rat (about 60-85 grams) - yet ASF rats do not smell like normal rats.

    Guinea pigs - this can be up to jumbo rats in size, yet also don't smell like normal rats. May be $5-6 each

    Rabbits - often young rabbits are similar in size to adult rats. Yet they don't smell like rats. Often $12-15 each

    Quail - Dumeril's are said to love Quail, because they may be similar to their natural prey in Madagascar. Often similar in price to rats.

    Chicks/Chicken - similar to Quail, except larger & often cheaper. May be similar price to mice.
    I was thinking there might be some other options too. But just be aware that the snake might get "stuck" on prey that's harder to come by or something that costs a lot more- so choose carefully with the future in mind.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 09-16-2022 at 10:53 AM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  11. #7
    Registered User Krj2501's Avatar
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    But would it really be a problem if the "more expensive" prey is still cost less than several live mice?

    Still - I understand about a picky & shy Dumeril's Boa - as mine is definitely one. I tried to feed her F/T mice or rat pups for nearly a month, and she would not eat anything. Finally - I try a chick(two days ago) and she took it (after I left in near her in her tub for a few hours). Now, she has a nice full belly. Fortunately, I got 24 chicks so I likely won't run it anytime soon.
    Snakes
    1.0 Pure Hog Island Boas (Boa imperator) - "Boss"
    0.1 Tamaulipas Cloud Forest Boa (Boa imperator) - "Elena"
    0.1 Ivory/Super YB Ball Python (Python regius) - "Ivory"
    1.1 Cape York Spotted Python (Antaresia maculosa) - "Irwin & Iris"
    0.1 Dumeril's Boa (Acrantophis dumerili)

    Lizards
    0.1 Yellow Ackie Monitor
    (Varanus acanthurus) - "Gigi"

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  13. #8
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    Re: Dumerils Boa Afraid of Rats (Any size). How to switch from mice to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krj2501 View Post
    But would it really be a problem if the "more expensive" prey is still cost less than several live mice?

    Still - I understand about a picky & shy Dumeril's Boa - as mine is definitely one. I tried to feed her F/T mice or rat pups for nearly a month, and she would not eat anything. Finally - I try a chick(two days ago) and she took it (after I left in near her in her tub for a few hours). Now, she has a nice full belly. Fortunately, I got 24 chicks so I likely won't run it anytime soon.
    And chicks are probably the most widely available* & cost effective, if this Dumerils boa likes them. Might well be a big hit, who knows?

    *Besides the online suppliers of prey for snakes, you can also get chicks from local feedstores & maybe even a local farmer, depending on your location.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: Dumerils Boa Afraid of Rats (Any size). How to switch from mice to rats?

    Good news! I bought F/T quail from Rodent Pro. My Dumerils immediately showed interest and after a few minutes of leaving in the cage, he went after it. So in one move, we got him on F/T and eating something bigger than mice!

    I don't mind paying extra for quail if he takes them. I have large freezers so I plan on buying a few different sizes to make sure I have enough stocked to take care of him for a whie.

    Thanks for all the help and tips!

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  16. #10
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    That's GREAT news! Now you know what he wants, & happy snakes make for happy owners.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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