Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

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DracoRJC
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Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by DracoRJC » February 16th, 2012, 12:07 pm

Has it been done, ever? If so, how successfully, and how were they kept? I would never risk keeping such a sensitive species myself (if I could even find one...), but I think they are some of the most fascinating snakes in the US and would love to hear anything about this.

Ryan

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justinm
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by justinm » February 16th, 2012, 12:52 pm

They specialize in eating sirens which can be just as hard to find as a mudsnake... Yes it's been done, I know know if any have been bred in captivity though.

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Tim Borski
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by Tim Borski » February 16th, 2012, 1:16 pm

I kept an absolutely gorgeous 5 plus footer overnight once cuz it was really late, I was tired and my photos were all turning out like crap. I shot it again early the next morning when the light was pretty and soft and they still turned out like crap, so I drove 141 miles back to the point of encounter and let it go.

Hope that helps,
:lol:
Tim

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DracoRJC
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by DracoRJC » February 16th, 2012, 1:42 pm

justinm wrote:They specialize in eating sirens which can be just as hard to find as a mudsnake... Yes it's been done, I know know if any have been bred in captivity though.
I'm aware of their specialized diet - however I thought it may be possible to keep them on scented fish or frogs or something. I know plenty of people have kept stubborn eastern hogs on toads despite the difficulty on doing so.

Speaking of specialized aquatic snakes in captivity... Have Regina been kept with any succes either? Finding crayfish is about as hard as getting toads for hogs, but the whole molting thing would certainly put a damper on feeding.

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Don
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by Don » February 16th, 2012, 1:46 pm

When I worked at a private attraction at which the ubiquitous indigo was used for visitors to handle, the indigo tried to eat a kid's leg. Not a pretty day!

The decision was made to switch to mudsnakes for the handlee. Kept in a basic cage with pea gravel for substrate and a slightly larger water vessel, they did just fine. The snakes were rotated so that they spent a week being handled, then 2-3 weeks recovering and being fed. The biggest problem was moisture, which caused some nasty blistering. They did better in a dry enclosure.

These animals all came from a family who lived in Old Dock, NC. Most were subsequently released in the same area.

BTW, they would readily take small redfin pike that were netted in their native swamp when the waters receded in late summer.

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justinm
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by justinm » February 16th, 2012, 1:48 pm

Most Regina will eat fish, along with molting crayfish. Catching crayfish is really easy, if you use traps. Canned cat food draws them in.

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KingCam
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by KingCam » February 16th, 2012, 2:07 pm

justinm wrote:Catching crayfish is really easy, if you use traps. Canned cat food draws them in.
I was just gonna say that :P If you can find a shallow (permanent) muddy body of water you'll probably find lots of crawfish too. I like small neighborhood ponds, they seem to always have a LOT because they're over fished and the crawfish reproduce unchecked.

Canned cat food works alright, but I prefer fresh fish guts.

If you can put some fresh (or frozen) fish inards in your trap you'll catch quite a lot more! They also love the skin of the fish. Basically all of the parts you'd throw away after cleaning a fish. When I have a good fishing trip I usually freeze a couple bags of fish innards in case I feel like trapping some crawfish.

This is me and a friend (back when I was a bit heavier) with a basket full of crawfish we caught in one night.

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DracoRJC
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by DracoRJC » February 16th, 2012, 2:11 pm

Has anyone tried those parthenogenic "marbled crayfish", for any herps? Was thinking of keeping them for fun at one point and feeding off extras to my snapper, painted, and stinkpot. Thought maybe they could work for Regina if in big enough numbers to have clean, freshly shed ones readily available.

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KingCam
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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by KingCam » February 16th, 2012, 2:15 pm

DracoRJC wrote:Has anyone tried those parthenogenic "marbled crayfish", for any herps? Was thinking of keeping them for fun at one point and feeding off extras to my snapper, painted, and stinkpot. Thought maybe they could work for Regina if in big enough numbers to have clean, freshly shed ones readily available.
Funny you should bring that up, I was just reading about those. Sound pretty neat.

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DracoRJC
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by DracoRJC » February 16th, 2012, 2:17 pm

Would love to see any setups or captive pics of any of these snakes, btw, especially Farancia, photogenic as they are.

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by stlouisdude » February 16th, 2012, 3:21 pm

In theory it should be easy to secure a large amount of sirens as the larger roadside ditches can be thick with them, so thick that just walking around with a flashlight at night you see them darting about. I guess if I really wanted to keep something that fed on them, I'd get a buddy to make a flooded ditch somewhere out of sight of the house and stock it with sirens lol Or one could simply collect them unless there is some kind of law regarding that. Either way it sounds like a lot of trouble to me, easier and more fun to spend that $ on gas looking for them instead and no babysitter needed should you decide to go on an extended vacation. I also wonder if they would take thawed sirens? You might be able to keep some frozen in case a drought hits.

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Hornemadness » February 16th, 2012, 3:31 pm

those parthenogenic crayfish are pretty small, not much of a meal for a snapper, unless you are feeding alot of them at once

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umop apisdn
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by umop apisdn » February 16th, 2012, 5:53 pm

I second Don's sentiment about blisters tied to too much exposure to moisture. While I never noticed them readily feed in captivity, I'd occasionally hang on to one and getting a hold of a siren/amphiuma wasn't an issue. If I'd keep the two for a couple of weeks for outreach, normally the siren/amphiuma would eventually disappear. I recommend a soft substrate, mud snakes like to burrow.

Successfully fed hatchlings A. opacum larvae. I'd put the hatchling with one larva in a plastic baggy for a while, along with a little bit of water and air...and it wouldn't be too long before feeding began.

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Dan Krull » February 16th, 2012, 7:00 pm

mudsnakes will eat frogs. (some of them) and frog scented mice.

Not all regina need molting crayfish. Some will take them any way they can get them.

Dan

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by jayder85 » February 16th, 2012, 7:08 pm

As far as the Farancia, a friend of mine kept one for a very long time feeding it ambystomas (which i wasnt a fan of because i like salamanders too). I know people who have kept Hognoses for years by freezing toads and that made me think, "why not try freezing DOR ambystomas if they werent messed up too bad". Find a road where they cross in large numbers in the spring and i am sure that you could get what you needed. Thats just my thoughts.

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by herpseeker1978 » February 16th, 2012, 8:15 pm

they are also frequently sold as fish bait, so you could get them that way as well

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by VICtort » February 16th, 2012, 10:25 pm

A friend kept a Farancia for several years on leopard frogs, salvaged each year from the local high school biology classes (do they still do frog labs/dissections?). He had a big Amphiphuma that he scented the frozen/thawed/dissected frogs with, and it sproadically ate them without scenting. He offered it some various California native amphibians which it grabbed but then rejected...it defiantely had preferences. This all long ago...back in the '70's. I don't know whatever happended to that Farancia, long term.

Someone on this (?) forum was raising a mud snake on scented pinkies...and it was doing well, he posted regularly a few years ago. I wonder what happened?

Mud snakes are beautiful, stunning animals, it would be cool if some clever keeper figured out how to keep them long term. I am guessing humidity is important/favorable to them but a wet substrate is not...

Let us know if you try working with them. I used to keep a few crawfish as pets, they were easy/hardy, and they molted from time to time, i would think if you had room for a tank full of them, with plenty of hides (for the shedders), you could easily have food for the Regina...but of course now you have a Regina to care for and tank(s) full of crays...

Good luck, Vic

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Steve Barten » February 17th, 2012, 8:26 am

Diet aside, one of the keys with Farancia and Regina is captive conditions. They are prone to skin problems if kept too dry or too wet. John Rossi had a book in which he described recommended husbandry fro every species of North American Snake. It's pricey, but filled with good info based on experience.
http://www.amazon.com/Snakes-United-Sta ... 692&sr=8-2
He recommends the use of weak tea instead of plain water in aquariums and soak pits to avoid skin problems. It seems to mimic the tannins in the aters of their native habitats.

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Joseph S.
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Joseph S. » February 17th, 2012, 10:03 am

Keeping food on hand for Regina would not be too difficult. I would simply remove the claws from all the crayfish caught that way they will have a tough time cannibalizing each other.

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KingCam
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by KingCam » February 17th, 2012, 10:12 am

Joseph S. wrote:Keeping food on hand for Regina would not be too difficult. I would simply remove the claws from all the crayfish caught that way they will have a tough time cannibalizing each other.
The claws grow back faster than one might think. If you had a large culture you'd be spending all your time removing claws :P Maybe rubberband them like they do lobsters in a fish market? You could use the little rubberbands they give you with braces.

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Re: Farancia in captivity

Post by squinn » February 17th, 2012, 4:18 pm

KingCam wrote:
justinm wrote:Catching crayfish is really easy, if you use traps. Canned cat food draws them in.
I was just gonna say that :P If you can find a shallow (permanent) muddy body of water you'll probably find lots of crawfish too. I like small neighborhood ponds, they seem to always have a LOT because they're over fished and the crawfish reproduce unchecked.

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damn! your post is making me hungry unfortunately all i seem to see around here is the smokestack crayfish and i expect they would be a pain in the arse to dig out, not to mention the resulting damage to the ground, granted they are hell on a ponds water level as they tend to dig through banks.

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Terry Vandeventer » February 17th, 2012, 7:02 pm

Don't kill the messenger. :D A friend has kept Graham's Crawfish Snakes alive for years in a public exhibit. He dredges-up and keeps a stock tank full of live crawfish. Now, think back to your high school biology. He snips one eye off several of the crawfish. This stimulates a molt. As soon as he has several soft ones, he feeds them to all of the Regina, who proceed to swallow them tail first. Works great. Seems cruel to some, but the crawfish do it to each other all of the time.

Cheers,

TV

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by VICtort » February 18th, 2012, 8:08 pm

Terry, that is an amazing trick (the crayfish/eye removal/shedding) unknown to me. There is a "tricks" thread going in the herpetoculture forum, that would be a great addition. How did someone figure that one out...? I have often wondered about crayfish as a food source, obviously Queen snakes consume them, but if they were soft and shedding, maybe others would as well? I offered them to my Indigos a few times, but they refused and feeding is a big part of their lives as I am sure you know. I was thinking the various reddish hues within a crustaceans shell might enhance and/or maintain the intense red hues that wild indigos often have that seem to diminish in captives...?

What other snakes do you folks know to eat crayfish? I bet soft shedder crayfish would be eagerly taken by various large amphibians, i.e. neotenic tiger salamanders, amphiphumas, sirens etc. At times they are fabulously abundant in California rice fields... Vic

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by kaptainkory » February 23rd, 2012, 9:00 am

A friend of mine brought a Gulf Crayfish Snake to ecology camp and it took unmolted crayfish of appropriate size without issue. We were amazed it ate so readily and didn't care if we watched:

Full series:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaptainkor ... 803073623/

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Gulf Crayfish Snake Consumes a Crayfish by kaptainkory, on Flickr

I've personally tried my hand at keeping a baby Mudsnake. I kept it almost 100% aquatic in a 2 1/2 gallon aquarium with just a submerged washcloth to give it a place to hide. I changed the water frequently and added a few drops of Betadine each water change. It READILY ate cricket frogs. It looked and acted perfectly healthy for several months (maybe 5?)...then up and died from unknown causes. No hint or clue that it was in trouble.

I'd be willing to try again if I come across another baby. I think maybe 1-2 days per week, I should have let it completely dry out perhaps?

In the wild they seem to spend so much time in the water, I've tried to figure out how they don't end up just covered in infections and blisters. I've thought perhaps the swamp water is fairly acidic and to maybe add a bit of white vinegar to the water for captive keeping.

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Juvenile Western Mudsnake by kaptainkory, on Flickr

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Joseph S.
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Joseph S. » February 23rd, 2012, 9:49 am

Haha that is an excellent trick-I remember reading about it somewhere but the physiology behind it escapes me. Perhaps a gland near their is responsible for regulation of the two hormones that control the molting cycle?

Kingcam: It takes a few molts for the claws to regenerate fully-about two for them to be useful in dismembering another crayfish. I've never tried rubberbands but that would only work for one molt. The best of both worlds might be to remove the movable part of the chelae so they can't actually use it to grasp something. I've done the claw removal thing for keeping them for a musk turtle and it worked well enough...50 or so small crayfish. I did have to check them every few days.

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KingCam
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by KingCam » February 23rd, 2012, 11:54 am

Joseph S. wrote:Kingcam: It takes a few molts for the claws to regenerate fully-about two for them to be useful in dismembering another crayfish. I've never tried rubberbands but that would only work for one molt. The best of both worlds might be to remove the movable part of the chelae so they can't actually use it to grasp something. I've done the claw removal thing for keeping them for a musk turtle and it worked well enough...50 or so small crayfish. I did have to check them every few days.
I didn't even consider the rubberband coming off during molt, LOL :oops: :crazyeyes: Now my suggestion seems really dumb.... probably because it was :lol:

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Daniel Parker
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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by Daniel Parker » February 24th, 2012, 4:21 am

Rossi is an excellent reference for captive care of some of the lesser known species of snakes. When I was a kid, I successfully bred striped crayfish snakes (Regina alleni) using an aquatic setup with "swamp tea" for low pH. In my experience Regina, Farancia, and Seminatrix will all blister up if you put them in regular tap water. Luckily, striped crayfish snakes do not require soft shelled crayfish, so caring for them was easy. I was dip netting all the time back then, so it was very easy to keep a steady supply of crayfish and dragonfly larvae.

Black swamp snakes are actually very easy captives if you provide them with the same setup as the crayfish snakes. They are generalists and will just about eat whatever you throw in there including fish, tadpoles, frogs, worms, leaches, and list goes on. I have found them to be ideal little pets.

I have tried mud snakes a few times with limited success. They are wonderful snakes for educational programs because of their docile disposition. Since they are quite common in my area, I have found that it is just easier to catch them to use for a program, and then release later.

The best setup seems to be a substrate of cypress mulch, which retains some moisture. It can be misted to increase humidity, but that is usually not a problem here in Florida. I have used a water bowl with the "swamp tea." I have never had an adult mud snake take anything except a siren or amphiuma. I have offered scented items with no success, but I haven't tried that hard. I also offered adult tiger salamanders to one, and it refused them. That would be a foreign commodity to a wild South or Central Florida mud snake. I have heard that individuals from other areas would accept ambystomids, but it doesn't seem like a convenient for food for most people. It wouldn't be for me. Plus, I really like the salamanders. Juvenile mud snakes readily take tadpoles. I wonder if the adults would live on ranid tadpoles in captivity. I haven't tried.

Sirens and amphiumas are actually abundant and pretty easy to catch in some numbers in Florida if you know what you are doing. I keep a few sirens and amphiumas. They are just as interesting as the mud snakes, and very easy to keep. Mine are quite tame, as they "beg" for food when I walk by. You just have to watch your fingers with those amphiumas!

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Re: Farancia (or Regina) in captivity

Post by thurockk » March 1st, 2012, 9:31 am

That was me with the whole crawfish eye clipping thing. I just remembered doing it back in one of my biology classes. I have also kept mud snakes for several years. Lost some along the way as well. I haven't had any two mud snakes behave the same. Some would take fish, others frogs, and some completely refused anything other than sirens and amphiumas. The most success I have is with very large bullfrog tadpoles. I did however keep a large female for several years on siren scented chicken hot dogs!

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