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  1. #1
    Registered User JakBatt's Avatar
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    Special Needs Snek

    Has anyone has any experience with a ball python with a non-functioning tongue? My poor lil 8month old female Leopard BP that I brought home a few months ago was found to have a flaccid tongue. Here's how that came to be discovered...

    After I brought her home, I noticed she had NEVER flicked her tongue. I thought she was just stressed and getting used to her new environment, or maybe that was just normal for her, etc. etc. However, she was having a pretty difficult time identifying her food once she dropped it to reposition it for eating. She would start looking around (with no tongue flicks) and eventually just rested her head on it like a pillow and would look at me like "where did it go?" ha. It was so cute but also like wtf?? I thought she was just picky... maybe she didn't like the temp, the color, the size, mouse vs rat, the time of day, tried covering the cage with a blanket to give her more privacy, thawed different ways, brained, etc. She would strike, coil, and then leave it. I messaged the breeder and they claimed they had no issues and to try live. So... I tried live & she just watched it and moved away from it, which resulted in me then having a pet rat, ha. (RIP Prometheus, he unfortunately didn't make it after a few weeks.)

    Then I bought a Wyze Snek Cam... After watching a recording of her strike in slow mo, I learned that she side strikes, so if I hold the rat horizontally THEN she grabs the rat by the head and doesn't drop it to reposition and she eats with no problem. THANK GOD. She was eating successfully after that discovery, so I thought we were in the clear! With this new camera I was able to watch her 24/7 though, and I noticed she had a little wobble going on which seemed to be getting worse. When she is handled or focused on something she wouldn't do it, but when she was left alone at night, it was more profound. Found a smidge of mold at the base of the ONLY log that I DIDN'T bake (never again),. so I got rid of that, deep cleaned the tank & took her to the vet immediately.

    She appeared completely healthy during his assessment. She displayed no respiratory symptoms, no wobble, nothing while we were there. When he looked in her mouth however, the one thing we noticed was that her tongue was completely flaccid on the tongue depressor!! There is no way to know if it is a congenital defect or if she suffered some sort of trauma at some point in her life, but that totally explained why she struggles so much with food identity. I am now giving her Ceftazidime Injections just in case the mold DID cause an infection or is the cause of the wobble...... so now I guess we just wait and see if the neurological involvement improves after the antibiotic course is completed.

    I just feel awful because I feel like she gets lost in her own cage, does struggle with finding food if grabbed wrong, and sometimes preemptively strikes and misses the food and hits something else so I have to be careful with what decor I put in her tank.... I guess I am just hoping to find someone that may have experience with a snake with a similar deficit bc I hope I can continue to give her a long happy and healthy fulfilling life regardless of the fact that she is "special." ❤️ She otherwise appears to be a happy lil innocent snek that does great with handling, likes snuggles, boops, kisses, and weaving through my hair. 🥰 ❤️
    JakBatt 🖤

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  3. #2
    BPnet Senior Member Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    Wow, I feel your disappointment. What I would do is notify the person or place where I purchased the reptile even though it’s past any health warranty time frame. They still need to know and also be advised of the expense you went through to monitor the animal and the professional veterinarian treatment that you had to get. Not for nothing, but you may be surprised at the help you get from the seller. I would start there right away. See what they can offer you in the line of a explanation or compensation. If it were me that sold that animal, I would immediately exchange it for a different animal or leave it up to the customer on how they want to proceed. It may be a loss for the seller but they would gain the trust and security of of the customer.
    Last edited by Albert Clark; 09-27-2022 at 07:14 AM. Reason: Rewording
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

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  5. #3
    BPnet Senior Member Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    And I see where you mentioned that you messaged the breeder about the feeding issues. However, did you mention to them about the wobble and the lack of tongue flicking? It sounds like the cause of this may be more neurological. I hope not in any case.
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

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  7. #4
    BPnet Veteran Homebody's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    Quote Originally Posted by JakBatt View Post
    I guess I am just hoping to find someone that may have experience with a snake with a similar deficit bc I hope I can continue to give her a long happy and healthy fulfilling life regardless of the fact that she is "special." ❤️ She otherwise appears to be a happy lil innocent snek that does great with handling, likes snuggles, boops, kisses, and weaving through my hair. 🥰 ❤️
    I searched the forum for "flaccid tongue" and I'm sorry to say that all I found was your post. So, it looks like it's on you to educate the community on this issue. For what it worth, seems to me like she couldn't be in better hands.
    1.0 Normal Ball Python (2019 - 2021)
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  9. #5
    Registered User JakBatt's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Clark View Post
    And I see where you mentioned that you messaged the breeder about the feeding issues. However, did you mention to them about the wobble and the lack of tongue flicking? It sounds like the cause of this may be more neurological. I hope not in any case.
    Well at that time, I didn't notice any wobble and didn't have the camera so there's no way for me to know if she had that when I first got her or if it was in direct relation to the mold I found or just an underlying neuro issue that didn't show till later, etc. Thank you for that advice tho bc I should let them know about her flaccid tongue and see if they can speak to that. It would just be to make them aware though, not for any kind of exchange. She's had a special place in my heart since I laid eyes on her at the expo, so I am more than willing to care for her with this disability. 💙 (who knows what they would do with her if I gave her back) I really hope it's not an underlying neurological thing too, fingers crossed!
    JakBatt 🖤

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  11. #6
    Registered User JakBatt's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    Quote Originally Posted by Homebody View Post
    I searched the forum for "flaccid tongue" and I'm sorry to say that all I found was your post. So, it looks like it's on you to educate the community on this issue. For what it worth, seems to me like she couldn't be in better hands.
    Aw thank you. I will do my best to share my experience! Hopefully it's just a hiccup in her life/care and not a total game changing disability that becomes unmanageable.
    JakBatt 🖤

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  13. #7
    BPnet Veteran Homebody's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    Quote Originally Posted by JakBatt View Post
    Aw thank you. I will do my best to share my experience! Hopefully it's just a hiccup in her life/care and not a total game changing disability that becomes unmanageable.
    God forbid.
    1.0 Normal Ball Python (2019 - 2021)
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  15. #8
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    I've never seen a snake with a flaccid tongue, but I'm inclined to agree it's most likely a congenital neurological defect (or maybe a nerve injury from a fall?) That is a real impediment to finding her prey, but hopefully she'll accommodate alright? The only tongue issue I've seen (long ago) was an infection of the tongue sheath that caused slow & very difficult tongue flicking, due to the stickiness. Do keep us posted- she's obviously in good hands with you.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  17. #9
    BPnet Senior Member Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    Quote Originally Posted by JakBatt View Post
    Well at that time, I didn't notice any wobble and didn't have the camera so there's no way for me to know if she had that when I first got her or if it was in direct relation to the mold I found or just an underlying neuro issue that didn't show till later, etc. Thank you for that advice tho bc I should let them know about her flaccid tongue and see if they can speak to that. It would just be to make them aware though, not for any kind of exchange. She's had a special place in my heart since I laid eyes on her at the expo, so I am more than willing to care for her with this disability. �� (who knows what they would do with her if I gave her back) I really hope it's not an underlying neurological thing too, fingers crossed!
    Understood. In that case , you as the customer/ buyer have made that decision and the seller should be made aware of that. They can’t fix what they are not aware of. Even though it’s your decision to keep the reptile because of your established bonding which is very understandable they should be amenable to a partial or full refund. Some compensation is due to you in the end from them. You have documented the disability through photos and have a written document about the veterinarian care. It’s only right that you be compensated in some way , shape, or form.
    Last edited by Albert Clark; 09-27-2022 at 01:59 PM.
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

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  19. #10
    BPnet Senior Member Albert Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Special Needs Snek

    By the way, we know this female ball python is a leopard. Do you know or can you find out if there is any other genetic material in her? Just curious. Can you share a picture of her for us? Did you say that the veterinarian that treated her didnít find her to have a wobble during the exam?
    Stay in peace and not pieces.

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