Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Captive care and husbandry discussions.

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by BillMcGighan » January 2nd, 2019, 7:47 am

KF
My schedule trying to feed hatchlings (I currently only breed Oreocryptophis and Rhadinophis frenata):
1. f/t pinkie
2. f/t pinkie again
3. live pinkie
4.force feed mouse tail
5.f/t pinkie I have had a surprising amount of snakes start eating f/t on their own after one force fed mouse tail.
6. I may give one more mouse tail and try f/t again, or I give up and give them what they want- tadpole, lizard, frog etc.

Years ago when I bred north American colubrids, I found that giving non- feeding snakes a short brumation would work well. I would drop their temp into the high 50's or low 60's for about a month and they would come out eating on their own.
This, generally, is one of the excellent regimens BEFORE any teasing should be even tried.

To this I would add tricks like waiting sufficiently for the yolk to be absorbed, boiling f/t pinks, braining f/t pinks, scenting with tadpole, lizard, frog etc.

And, again, there can be a big difference with genera. I think one of the most creative herpetocultural groups are the diehard alterna keepers!

On the other side of the coin, I am always amazed by my Eastern Fox Snakes in that they usually, immediately will eat f/t pinks, even in your hand, and had a few over the years even eat f/t before their very first shed!!!

Kfen
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kfen » January 2nd, 2019, 8:02 am

Bill,
I totally forgot to mention the braining part, I do that as well and can definitely be successful. I have never tried boiling a pinky, interesting idea. Some species are just easy, 90% of my coxi eat f/t without any tricks.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 2nd, 2019, 10:41 am

I almost always give a thawed pinky a peel or a squeeze, when feeding babies, they just eat faster, when i have had to feed a number of babies, which i just put the snake and the pinky in small retail brown bags, upright and folded over at the top, and placed back in the enclosure.

By the time im done putting in the last, i would go back and start removing the first and go down the line.

If someone doesnt eat, its marked on the chart, if its a new guy, after the second time, I tube feed them a slurry i keep frozen in a flat, with a dosing needle and do that a couple times and they start eating.

I have mentioned gavage feeding (so as not to confuse it with containment tube ministrations) alot on this forum, it constitutes a true secret and is not stressful once it becomes native to one by doing.

It is especially invaluable to sick, and injured snakes, or those who require careful habituation. The animal maintains or gains while you incorporate your chosen whole food acceptance method. It only enhances an appetite, or what i call a hunger cycle and i have never experienced a negative in using it.

I attempted to create a video twice, tried to lean my phone up whilst i tubed some picky hatchlings, and mostly got my hoodie strings. Another time, i exchanged tubing services to a guy who had a brood of balls happen with his pet balls, who were both huge ball pythons, two of the biggest ive ever seen. It was insufficient, with jumpy picture and I disliked his background conversation, it wasnt how I wanted to present my method, which means alot to me and has been developed in expedience and ergo through the years.

Tube feeding has been such a useful tool, that if I could leave one thing to the world it would be to create a tutorial of the methods I use.

If any one has a snake, or snakes that would candidate for that, and would like to trade services Im down.

Often i have tubed snakes for free for clients, just because of my own decision to do it, but odinarily charge 100 bucks for a series that leads to a successful whole food voluntary feeding. It always has. I wont tube feed a snake if there are husbandry/enclosure/temp issues that arent addressed first and kept through the series.

That has been the toughest part of providing the service, are the changes which are often causing the refusal. I will still do a tube feeding though, if the snake hasnt eaten so long it shows in flesh value, to nourish and stimulate the appetite, thats how unobtrusive it is. Sometimes I have even given people pads, equipment.

Im open to creating this video project with someone on FHF, i think it would serve good purpose

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 2nd, 2019, 2:40 pm

The most significant difference i see in the way i like to tube feed, and what ive seen online, is in using strategic points of support as opposed to over restraint, and in the initial insertion of equipments.

Different species and sizes respond differently to oral contact and the mechanics of insertion. I strongly support the theory that stress reduction in any invasive procedure is significant to the therapeutic value of the process. Stress is also a factor for the administrator. being overly ginger is as un useful as being overly rough. So demystification is important to developing a smooth and confident technique.

Another major difference that deters people from considering it an efficient option is the preparation of materials. A nourishing smooth-to-bore-diameter slurry does not require a dozen ingredients.

Things like electrolyte solutions are not required in a slurry. But tubing fluids alone to an emaciated subject is often an important pre step to making sure an animal will be hydrated properly before proteins are safely received, whether whole or in slurry, and also a reason why a snake will not eat. Delivering fluids to a therapeutic level to a snake thats has suffered neglect, or has been loose is also a great tool, since weak snakes often do not hydrate themselves adequately. Ive also given extra fluids routinely to snakes (and other herps) on medication or parasite treatments and reduces damages/duress to the kidneys that many of these have as an unfortunate side effect, especially to small taxa.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 2nd, 2019, 7:15 pm

Personally, if one can get a mouse tail into a well hydrated, healthy but picky baby nicely and smoothly, and it has the same effect in scoring a voluntary feeding, it is of equal merit, in results. There are some advantages in nutrition of a composite slurry, the most simple being the hydration component and the control of nutrients, but at the same time i see a broad tendency (not here but..) to make it Super Duper, with far too much supplementation. In a skinny or even slightly weakened guy - its worse than none at all jmo

Kfen
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kfen » January 3rd, 2019, 6:04 am

I have never attempted to maintain any snakes on mouse tails, I have never given more than two. I think it works by either triggering their digestive system and appetite or by showing the snake that mice are in fact a food source. If it doesn't work the first one or two times, I move onto a different "trick" or use a more natural food source.

Kelly, I would love for you to make a video of tube feeding. Its too bad I live 3000 miles away or I would be happy to help.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 3rd, 2019, 2:44 pm

Hi Kfen, I always called it "the hunger cycle" but what Ive read is that when a snake recieves food, besides the influx of energy calories and nutrients a chain of dramatic organ reactions happen in the cell lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and responses in the liver and heart, in effect 'swelling' so its a dramatic physiological sequence of events. So even a little food can trigger this normal event - that is laying 'dormant' in a non feeding snake.

But if there are more unsurpassable blocks that keep a snake from eating, like say, a snake who eats prey other than rodents, it would probably be good to make sure a baby snake is sated calorically and gets all his nutrition, especially at such a crucial time frame of rapid growth. But if a mouse tail or two does the trick, and a person is comfortable assist feeding it that way, why not? I like tube feeding because its non associative with a food type that may be instinctively abhorrent to a species.

Thank you for what you said. It is actually a little dream i have of collaborating with someone who may have some stubborn hatchlings, or a Ball, and camera/editing skills, which i dont have.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 3rd, 2019, 3:13 pm

Snakes arent the only guys you can tube feed, either. Back in the day I was able to get everything I needed pretty much, meds wise, but sources dwindled. My boss was not going to pay to get meds for a baby beardy. So I learned to nip things in the bud with asserting fluids and nutrition, and using things like upper temp strategies, ie tricks basically to treat animals.

What I learned was, fluids and nourishment can do amazing things. Which makes sense, after all the first thing that happens when hospitalized humans are injured or sick, as well as other animals, is to address those even before a diagnosis, and no matter what is wrong. But with reptiles, keepers are often forced to wait, tease, scent, pray. So it gives a keeper power to give the body what it needs to generate towards wellness.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 3rd, 2019, 6:23 pm

Well, I think Ive talked enough about this, and hope too many eyes weren't/arent rolling, it was meant well and I really appreciate being able to share here.

Thanks it means alot.

Jimi
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Jimi » January 7th, 2019, 4:54 pm

Perhaps Jimi will comment, I have seen vipers, esp young babies in videos tease fed, often tubed and it seems to work well, and I wonder if there is some operative tie in with bodily containment as with your method. It makes me wonder. Different, but, hmm
Al's video (and its successor, part 2) was pretty good. It was clear to me that those part 1 animals (neonate Java pit vipers, T puniceus, a sexually dichromatic, semiarboreal taxon) had already been "trained" some. The second individual, the male, was more typical than the first (female) of what you would see early on, in a training regime. The first animal (one strike, one grab, eating right away) was more like what ! would hope to see after maybe 7-10 increasingly successful attempts. The male was more like what you'd see after 3-4 successful attempts. A first successful attempt usually involves lots of avoidance (flight, head-hiding, etc), then some defensive non-grasping (sometimes closed-mouth) strikes, then a few grasping strikes followed by dropping. Eventually, you may get a grasp, a long wait, and then - praise Jesus!!! - swallowing.

Some taxa - and some individuals - take better to side-stroking, others to tail-tapping, others to gentle dorsal pressing (maybe this is the operative tie-in you mentioned, Kelly?). Squams for example like the pressing. Few taxa, few individuals take well to face-slapping - often that just leads to panic & retreat. Approaching from below is often helpful. Putting the animal up on a perch - like the rim of that tub - can also work well for arboreals. I don't like feeding on particle substrate, for ingestion concerns as well as simple interference. Clumps sticking to the pink, etc.

Some animals respond well to being removed from their enclosure, others do not. If not, and if they're "floor feeders" not perchers, I will often feed on a "dish" like a clean butter tub lid.

Finally, some taxa are just easier to train - they "get it" in 3 or 4 tries, not 30 or 40. Gimme a squam any day. White lips? Sheesh, PITA. (A big litter of stubborn white lips was what forced me to go collecting metamorph treefrogs! Which was the gateway drug to my current doctrine. More below.) In general I think arboreals are easier to tease-train, since their natural feeding modality is grab and hold, not stab and pull back. Although simply dropping the food item after eliciting a stabbing can be effective; I had a litter of ornate cantils once that were goofy like that. For whatever reason they wouldn't stab (or eat...) a live pink on their own, but if it "attacked" them they would stab it, and if they stabbed it they would eat it. We only had to play that game a month or so.
just put the snake and the pinky in small retail brown bags, upright and folded over at the top, and placed back in the enclosure
Yep, this can work great if the animal is one of those that responds OK to being handled before feeding, and doesn't require solicitation to bite. I've done this a million times if I've done it once.

Al's experience with the animal dropping the pink in response to him snapping the tub lid back on was standard fare in my experience. Until the animal is very well-trained I don't move once it's grasping the prey item. Don't move an inch. Snapping a lid on a tub must generate something like a Richter 6 or 7 earthquake for a little snake. Unsettling. Duh - don't do that!

Honestly, in time I simply moved away from trying to get snakes to eat stuff they don't want to eat. Trust me, there's virtually always something they want to eat. My husbandry not-so-secret is "determine what what they want, and just give it to them". You want a frog, baby? Who's your daddy? Here's a nice frog; plenty more where he came from. Gecko? Boom, done. Anole? Oh yeah, come to papa. To hell with parasite fears, just get some size on them. Once they're good eaters, switching them to mice is relatively easy with basic scent-transfer techniques. And once they're solid on mice, parasite purging is easy too, if you feel the need. I almost never do. You really cannot know the relief of never staring down another all-night tease-feeding session for a litter of eyelash vipers, until you've suffered a year's worth of those. Hello froggies!

Tube feeding is more for assist-feeding. Now, some folks with little patience may run a little too fast to this solution, but I don't like them for feeding, they're for probing, giving injections, helping with any pieces of stuck shed, etc etc. For me, tubes mostly stay in storage, and for feeding usage are only for the rare hold-out who really and truly prefers to die, rather than eat anything whatsoever. At that point, it's no more "who's your loving daddy", and more like "alright then, you're my b*tch". In the tube you go, out come the long forceps.

With tubes I use solid food pieces - one at a time but several in a row - about a third the size of the snake's head. Every 3-4 days or so. It's pretty easy, and doesn't present the wrong-hole dangers of a liquid lunch. Which has its place, for true force-feeding. That's pretty rare for me - I don't buy or live-harvest nearly-dead animals, and I don't let them get to that point. I've never had a job caring for fresh imports. A few times, I have accepted something "interesting" (uncommon in the trade, or something I've never kept) that another person has almost - but not quite - killed and given up on. So my experience with the nearly-dead is quite limited. I'd say my success rate at getting those all the way up to "happy & healthy" is maybe 35-50%. Whereas with tube-assist feeding, it's closer to 100%.

My longest tube-feeding case (a "platinum" Hill Country C ornatus, wild-caught as an adult) was about 18 months to start self-provisioning. During the active season I'd give it 3-4 rat pups at a time, restraining its forebody in a tube, with its face right at the opening and its back half free of the tube (and in my firm grip). Eventually - after its second captive brumation - that animal very reliably killed and ate small adult rats on its own. Shy animal, but glorious to behold due to its color, pattern, and head/body form. Kind of scary venom, very bloody kills.

Anyway, hope this was stimulating. Different strokes for different folks, and nobody's got the answers for everybody else. But if it works for you, keep it. If it doesn't, do something else. (This advice extends all the way to "how 'bout you just stop working with that taxon, dummy!" Some taxa exceed some keepers' grasp.)

cheers

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by BillMcGighan » January 8th, 2019, 6:18 am

Jimi [/quote]In general I think arboreals are easier to tease-train, since their natural feeding modality is grab and hold, not stab and pull back.[/quote]I think thats why it works well with Pantherophis. Dropping the pink puts pressure on the teeth and arboreals eat hanging down regularly.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 8th, 2019, 11:42 am

When feeding corns, the guys who grew out of the bags, which I liked the bags for all the neos, it was orderly and non complicated by sub, as Jimi mentioned in his wonderful post, but the other guys i fed them on the opened tops, and they would almost always adjust position to hang off the edge and eat, while kings and pits did not, (e.g. Jimi's Floor Feeders) even the boldest and most eager individuals would pull quarry in, if they seized at the opening of their domain.

Jimi your stuff makes me antsy for tropical viperdom. I love the way you write about it, the detail, inwards and outwards intwined without strain.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 8th, 2019, 12:39 pm

I am glad all those participating were not inelegant in critical commentary about the 'outsourced' examples of feeding that were posted, and in keeping with that, and perusing some things on youtube, which i havent done in quite a while and I always remember that what we post here is permanent and serves as an antithesis to alot thats out there, presented by good camera work and polished editing, but the practices are well, iffy.

Calcium shouldnt be used as a thickening agent, for a too thin slurry just for an example. And if pertinent details are left out of the explaining part, this can mean the person explaining is not as well versed in the practices he is presenting, at least in a way that there is a willingness to be accountable for.

Sometimes people will think something is working for them, because it looks like it does, but eating is One Goal, and a major one, but there are collaterals that count.

Someone may never know that their snake has slight kidney insufficiency from mineralization of tissue - but wouldnt it be nicer to know that you didn't risk doing that, and that your snake received nourishment, and an appetite, nothing more.

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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kfen » January 9th, 2019, 9:11 am

Approaching from below is often helpful.
This can across taxa. When getting baby terrestrial turtles to eat off tongs, they are much more receptive at first when the prey is on the ground rather than "magically" hanging in the air. You may wonder why I feed baby turtles from tongs. The answer is so that the food doesn't run/crawl away from them before they have a chance to eat it... and its just plain fun!

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 9th, 2019, 9:48 am

..."magically' Kfen i laughed out loud, i did. I so feel the same way and sometmes wonder how anyone feeds dubia without tongs, who immediately duck and disappear the moment they are released into an environment.

It is Fun, and i think one can learn so much about feeding behavior, you can impart enrichment using tongs.

As a tongs aficionado check out the thin stemmed alligator forceps on Search. I think you'll love them.

Im not lazy, just not good at transferring links. I dont know how, actually

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Do You Have Husbandry Secrets?

Post by Kelly Mc » January 9th, 2019, 8:36 pm


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