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  1. #1
    Registered User Python_Liqueur's Avatar
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    New Hatchling Passed Away

    I made a post a while ago in the husbandry section concerned about my hatchlings' feeding, and I have no idea what happened, but my sweet little male, Fireball, passed away yesterday

    I have no idea what happened, the only point of concern about him was his refusal to eat. Did he starve? I would be utterly gutted if he did, I didn't think it was time for extreme measures like assist feeding... When I found him, he had no injuries, there was water in his bowl, and he was simply lying there.

    Honestly, I'm suspicious of the breeder due to a comment he made about there being "nothing wrong with him" when giving him to me as a freebie, but visually he appeared completely healthy. I see freebies all the time with inverts, should I be suspicious of them with herps in the future? Or with hatchlings so small? And should I be worried for the female I got from him? She's giving me a hard time with food as well, just not as bad.

    I'm pretty devastated and worried that there was something I should have done sooner that might have saved him... I keep adult ball pythons and other exotics and can't believe this happened with my first hatchling bps.

    Here is my previous post: https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...d-Intervention

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Malum Argenteum's Avatar
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    A necropsy might reveal something that might be relevant to concerns about the female (or the rest of your collection, unless your QT procedures are 100% airtight).

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  4. #3
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry for your loss. How long had it been since he fed? Did he ever feed for you? Hatchlings don't have enough body weight to fast as long as adults do, so starvation is a possibility, sorry.
    It may have been past time to either assist feed or tube feed*, which is my personal preference. (*I'll be happy to share detailed instructions via PM- just ask.)

    I agree with you, that was suspicious- breeders don't usually give away snakes they can sell, so it's quite possible that they already had trouble with him from the start & didn't want to bother. And did you say he was also undersized? Listen, there is also just a "failure to thrive" that can happen, even with snakes that have NO visible abnormalities, size or otherwise. So it's hard to say? It's also possible that the breeder had other losses in the same litter, & considered this one to be more at risk- thus he was a freebie to you.

    Could any intervention have saved him? Maybe, maybe not. No way to know. I doubt that a necropsy will show anything, plus they're expensive, must be done soon with the body not frozen, & by an experienced herp vet.

    Rest in Peace, Fireball.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  6. #4
    BPnet Veteran Malum Argenteum's Avatar
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    Re: New Hatchling Passed Away

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Listen, there is also just a "failure to thrive" that can happen, even with snakes that have NO visible abnormalities, size or otherwise.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    No way to know. I doubt that a necropsy will show anything, plus they're expensive, must be done soon with the body not frozen, & by an experienced herp vet.
    Necropsies are a couple hundred dollars in many cases (gross necropsies are sometimes a hundred dollars or less, and then histopathology samples another hundred or somewhat more). Whether that's expensive for a chance of knowing what a keeper brought into their collection is probably different for different keepers. At least some vets send out their necropsies, certainly the histo and other specialized samples, so any vet can line one up, at least in theory. You're right that they don't always give a clear answer, but not getting one is 100% likely to not give a clear answer. What a necropsy can often do is rule out the most scary possibilities, and to some keepers that might be worth a lot.

    "Failure to thrive" is a catch-all for situations where we don't know what's causing the difficulty. Something is causing the failure to thrive, though. Unfortunately, the fact that nearly all reptile deaths aren't investigated keeps us in the dark about what's causing the deaths. I'd suspect amoeba first in a non-feeding case where environmental parameters are acceptable, which is pretty easy to rule out with necropsy or in live animals PCR swab or even shotgunning metronidazole, but unfortunately not a lot of keepers do this.

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  8. #5
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    You're right that this might have been something simple, like amoeba, but what I mostly think of when I say "failure to thrive" is some internal abnormalities that just happens with all the selective breeding being done- & this one was apparently on the small side already which raises the odds of something else being off.

    I do agree that a necropsy is always a good idea if your budget can handle it, & most especially to contribute to the bigger picture of knowing what went wrong, & protecting any other snakes in the vicinity in case it's something contagious, but in this case I think it's more likely the combination of an at-risk hatchling & perhaps waiting too long for feeding intervention. For anyone intending to breed & sell snakes, for sure a necropsy should be done. My impression though is that the OP is more of a pet-keeper only, but I shouldn't assume. My bad.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  10. #6
    Registered User Python_Liqueur's Avatar
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    Re: New Hatchling Passed Away

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    I'm so sorry for your loss. How long had it been since he fed? Did he ever feed for you? Hatchlings don't have enough body weight to fast as long as adults do, so starvation is a possibility, sorry.
    It may have been past time to either assist feed or tube feed*, which is my personal preference. (*I'll be happy to share detailed instructions via PM- just ask.)

    I agree with you, that was suspicious- breeders don't usually give away snakes they can sell, so it's quite possible that they already had trouble with him from the start & didn't want to bother. And did you say he was also undersized? Listen, there is also just a "failure to thrive" that can happen, even with snakes that have NO visible abnormalities, size or otherwise. So it's hard to say? It's also possible that the breeder had other losses in the same litter, & considered this one to be more at risk- thus he was a freebie to you.

    Could any intervention have saved him? Maybe, maybe not. No way to know. I doubt that a necropsy will show anything, plus they're expensive, must be done soon with the body not frozen, & by an experienced herp vet.

    Rest in Peace, Fireball.
    Thank you And sorry for the late reply, I didn't get any emails from the replies on this post for some reason and haven't had the mind to check my account until now.

    He had not eaten for a month when he passed away, and had only eaten twice for me in the two months I had him. I'm heartbroken to think he could have starved, but I know it's very much a possibility... I knew he wasn't doing well and I had to keep watching and trying but at the time I wasn't certain how dire it was...I wish I had called my vet even just a little sooner, but I suppose there's nothing I can do but learn from the experience. I was pretty stressed about how long he was going since he was just a baby but I found info that both agreed with my concerns and didn't. If I have a similar situation down the line I will most definitely ring the vet as soon as it seems out of the ordinary.

    That's what I was concerned of. I did think it was a little odd at the time, but chalked it up to the practice being done with inverts and since I was getting a hatchling rack at the time, I had the space and time for him and figured I would go ahead. Me and my roommate did think of necropsy, but I don't have a ton of money. I've preserved him in isopropyl alcohol, so I could see if my vet could preform one when I have more income, if they are still able to be done when preserved that way? I don't want to mess with his body because it helps me having him preserved in a nice way where I can enjoy him and he looks comfortable, but I also want what's best for my other pets if the necropsy could reveal anything.

    Sweet little boy is very much missed.

  11. #7
    Registered User Python_Liqueur's Avatar
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    Re: New Hatchling Passed Away

    Quote Originally Posted by Malum Argenteum View Post
    A necropsy might reveal something that might be relevant to concerns about the female (or the rest of your collection, unless your QT procedures are 100% airtight).
    That's what I thought, too. If preserving in isopropyl alcohol allows for one to be done this far after him passing, I am certainly thinking on it. I highly doubt my QT procedures are, I kept them paper towels for thirty days to monitor their waste and watch for mites, and washed my hands after doing anything with them or their tubs, but they were in the same room with my other herps. They were in the same rack together too, but it was only them in that one.

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  13. #8
    Registered User Python_Liqueur's Avatar
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    Re: New Hatchling Passed Away

    Quote Originally Posted by Malum Argenteum View Post
    Necropsies are a couple hundred dollars in many cases (gross necropsies are sometimes a hundred dollars or less, and then histopathology samples another hundred or somewhat more). Whether that's expensive for a chance of knowing what a keeper brought into their collection is probably different for different keepers. At least some vets send out their necropsies, certainly the histo and other specialized samples, so any vet can line one up, at least in theory. You're right that they don't always give a clear answer, but not getting one is 100% likely to not give a clear answer. What a necropsy can often do is rule out the most scary possibilities, and to some keepers that might be worth a lot.

    "Failure to thrive" is a catch-all for situations where we don't know what's causing the difficulty. Something is causing the failure to thrive, though. Unfortunately, the fact that nearly all reptile deaths aren't investigated keeps us in the dark about what's causing the deaths. I'd suspect amoeba first in a non-feeding case where environmental parameters are acceptable, which is pretty easy to rule out with necropsy or in live animals PCR swab or even shotgunning metronidazole, but unfortunately not a lot of keepers do this.
    I'm certainly up for being safer than sorry, but I would have to save up for that. I'd likely call my vet for her opinion on whether it's worth it in this situation.

    For ruling out amoeba in live animals, do you have any estimate on how much that costs? I would very much be interested in looking into that! I've actually not heard of it before, I would like to know more if you've ever got the time to educate me a little or could even just point me in the right direction of a good article!

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  15. #9
    Registered User Python_Liqueur's Avatar
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    Re: New Hatchling Passed Away

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    You're right that this might have been something simple, like amoeba, but what I mostly think of when I say "failure to thrive" is some internal abnormalities that just happens with all the selective breeding being done- & this one was apparently on the small side already which raises the odds of something else being off.

    I do agree that a necropsy is always a good idea if your budget can handle it, & most especially to contribute to the bigger picture of knowing what went wrong, & protecting any other snakes in the vicinity in case it's something contagious, but in this case I think it's more likely the combination of an at-risk hatchling & perhaps waiting too long for feeding intervention. For anyone intending to breed & sell snakes, for sure a necropsy should be done. My impression though is that the OP is more of a pet-keeper only, but I shouldn't assume. My bad.
    I am a pet keeper right now, but I'm interested in breeding in the future, either balls or mexican kings. I've got a lot to learn so it's certainly a ways off, but I had been hoping to pair these two hatchlings once I was ready in however many years. My hope is to make friends with a breeder/s to learn from experienced hands, cuz that's how I learn best.

    Sorry I keep repeating myself in my replies, but since I preserved Fireball in isopropyl, is a necropsy still in an option? Because if so I can save up for it and am willing to get one.

  16. #10
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Amoeba are easy to treat for safely, & some keepers do it routinely with new acquisitions, or for sure with any that aren't quite right (if they have feeding issues, or weird stool, etc).

    The drug is called Flagyl- (aka- metronidazole). You might have heard of it before, it's used for fish ("Fish-Zole" is sold in pet stores OTC for aquarium fish) & for farm animals ("Metro-Zole) likewise sold OTC. You have to be able to calculate the right dose for snakes & administer it (by mouth- that's what the abbreviation "PO" means) & it definitely works, & dosed correctly, it's very safe for snakes. Yes, I've used it. It also tends to stimulate a snake's appetite, which really might have helped. Flagyl is also given to humans for some conditions too, btw. It's not even expensive. Of course, a vet could also supply & administer it too.

    https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/...some%20species.



    I suppose they could still see any gross physical abnormalities on a snake preserved this way, but it's not ideal. Formalin might be a better option.

    Re necropsies: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/UW382 excerpt:

    "Necropsies should be performed soon after the animal is euthanized to avoid autolysis. If the necropsy will not take place for a couple of hours, the reptile should be stored in a refrigerator. Depending on your purpose of study, specimens may also be stored in a freezer for days, weeks, or months before necropsy. Avoid freezing the animal before blood or tissue analysis, however, because it compromises samples (Stahl 1996)."
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-22-2024 at 07:09 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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