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 Post subject: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 1:26 pm 
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Location: Gainesville, FL
I caught a very young Eastern Coachwhip back in March. I did not plan on keeping it unless it could settle in and regularly eat - and it has. It has never once bit me, but it does get aggressive around shed times. I have been feeding it f/t brown anoles that I've caught from around the house and on a couple of occasions a thoroughly scented pinkie if it was sandwiched between two anoles.

I have tried getting it to eat just pinkies having rubbed anoles (both alive and dead) on a pinkie. I've had anoles bite the pinkies to get saliva on the pink. I have even cut up anoles and rubbed anole parts on a pinkie (which was a gruesome scene!) and still no dice.

Does anybody know of a sure fire way to switch a snake from lizards to mice? I figure eventually the snake might get big enough that something just clicks for it to eat bigger prey items...after all they're opportunistic feeders in the wild. It is about 2' now and has grown 4"-6" under my care, but I can't feed it anoles forever. Can you image how many that would take for even a 4' whip?!?!

Anybody have suggestions or tricks? Thanks in advance.

Here it is from a few months ago.
ImageEastern Coachwhip by Noah Mueller, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 2:34 pm 

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The only coaches I've kept (2 or 3, probably 35 years ago) were hatchlings, and I just fed them lizards too. They did great but I quickly "got over them" and released them where I caught them. So I don't have direct experience with raising & switching them, although I have kept lots of other things that I preferred to get on to another prey from what they wanted (usually frogs to mice).

I like to consider the feeding modality of the snake - chemosensory, visual, tactile, whatever. I mainly think of coaches being visual. But you've obviously got one them does enough sniffing to inform his choices...

It's great your guy does F/T, even if it's lizards ATM. Sounds like you've done the "mixed pile of food" thing, with some success. That was my first thought (you could just keep doing that). Or, instead of offering whole mice in the "mixed pile", just mince them and mix them with your little pile of F/T anoles. If you want to back up a little (e.g., because "the pile" is failing too much), try "polluting" your F/T anoles with mouse goo - pinkie brains or blood or a little skin (sticky drying blood makes a pretty decent "glue" for skin). Slowly reduce the amount of lizard and up the amount of mouse. After a month or so he'll be on nothing but mice.

Alternatively, will this animal accept food from forceps? Sometimes a strong forcep-feeder will grab anything off forceps - the tool (not the food) being the behavioral trigger to initiate a predatory event. If you can get him taking lizards off tongs you might be able to skip the scent-transfer thing altogether, once he's hammering stuff off the tool.

Good luck. Coaches are neat animals. They seem smart. Smart animals are totally trainable. That's really what you're talking about - training this animal.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 5:09 pm 
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To add to the fun, and in agreement with Jimi's great input, sometimes diverging from an either/or scent can do it.

Eliminating a signature mammalian scent can be key; some threat-scent 'subliminal' can prevent some snakes to want to "connect" with animals that are stronger, have advanced physical skills and are commonly predaceous.
They arent really cuing into the 'fact' that it is a domestic pinky.

Some other ways of removing threatening or derailing scent that has worked with various species that are non constricting, non mammalian primary feeding species

1) Lizard urates on washed pinky, dusted lightly. Do not over-do.
2) Partially or completely skinning the feeder.
3) Removing the gastrointestinal tract and bladder. Especially easy to do before feeder is completely thawed.
It all pops right out.

Its always useful to include the historical aspects of how and what the snake has been feeding on to increase successful conversion. I have always found it to be more important than the species of the snake.
From what you have described my oddity of a prescription would be to do the sandwich thing but lightly smear raw avian signature on the sandwich feeder combo you have had consistent acceptance with.
After some good acceptance time (you be the judge) eliminate the anole part of the sandwich. Habituated to the 'other added bio scent. I use poultry liver. Easy to get and use. Smash up in a ziplock in the freezer.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 5:38 pm 
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Jimi wrote:
The only coaches I've kept (2 or 3, probably 35 years ago) were hatchlings, and I just fed them lizards too. They did great but I quickly "got over them" and released them where I caught them. So I don't have direct experience with raising & switching them, although I have kept lots of other things that I preferred to get on to another prey from what they wanted (usually frogs to mice).

I like to consider the feeding modality of the snake - chemosensory, visual, tactile, whatever. I mainly think of coaches being visual. But you've obviously got one them does enough sniffing to inform his choices...

It's great your guy does F/T, even if it's lizards ATM. Sounds like you've done the "mixed pile of food" thing, with some success. That was my first thought (you could just keep doing that). Or, instead of offering whole mice in the "mixed pile", just mince them and mix them with your little pile of F/T anoles. If you want to back up a little (e.g., because "the pile" is failing too much), try "polluting" your F/T anoles with mouse goo - pinkie brains or blood or a little skin (sticky drying blood makes a pretty decent "glue" for skin). Slowly reduce the amount of lizard and up the amount of mouse. After a month or so he'll be on nothing but mice.

Alternatively, will this animal accept food from forceps? Sometimes a strong forcep-feeder will grab anything off forceps - the tool (not the food) being the behavioral trigger to initiate a predatory event. If you can get him taking lizards off tongs you might be able to skip the scent-transfer thing altogether, once he's hammering stuff off the tool.

Good luck. Coaches are neat animals. They seem smart. Smart animals are totally trainable. That's really what you're talking about - training this animal.


Hey, Look up Alligator Forceps, they are great! Especially for guys that are well sighted, and quite honestly its really pleasant to use them, kind of like ' fly fishing '

Food item below not above, in a lateral "crawl" and moving away not towards has been the technique I have used with the fast, the shy, and the reluctant.

Any pair shorter than 12 in not worth the money though. The whole value is in the distal control of the food item.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2017, 2:10 pm 
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Jimi wrote:

Alternatively, will this animal accept food from forceps? Sometimes a strong forcep-feeder will grab anything off forceps - the tool (not the food) being the behavioral trigger to initiate a predatory event. If you can get him taking lizards off tongs you might be able to skip the scent-transfer thing altogether, once he's hammering stuff off the tool.

Good luck. Coaches are neat animals. They seem smart. Smart animals are totally trainable. That's really what you're talking about - training this animal.



Yes - How the 'different' food is presented. Using uniformity of presentation is really important in converting. How the accepted food is presented is the 'groomer' and after a nice succession of feeds the desired item is offered the exact same way. The fact he takes dead anoles is a great help.

I have found making both the accepted and desired food item sharing a similar signature scent to be not only more practical, but very effective. Avian liver seems to be a kind of premier tissue material. Its also easy to manipulate and consistent to apply. It seems to dominate 'risky' scents. Raw chicken liver.

I have a lizard eating as adult species that has never smelled a lizard. I blend up raw chicken liver and keep in a flat wafer in the freezer, it takes only a moment to chip off a bit to smear a hopper. If I skip that step, he sometimes 'flees' the thawed hopper. If I use the liver - he eats it every time. If some of the liver smudges a wall or artifact, he has tried to bite the wall or bark.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2017, 5:30 pm 
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Thank you for your comments.

I've thought about the visual aspect of it being a hunter. I've thought that eventually when the snake is large enough, a hopper zipping by might trigger some response because even now the biggest mice I feel comfortable feeding it just roll around in place. But then I am reminded that it eats f/t lizards. Perhaps the shape and scent of the lizard is enough.

Since it has eaten pinkies that were sandwiched between anoles (it just ate the whole pile), I may keep going that direction. It did not take to the anole parts around the pinkie, and visually this did not look right. It looked like carnage.

It does not eat from forceps. I have it in a room by itself with very minimal foot traffic. I moved it here because when I first had it, I could leave lizards in the tank and it would not touch them because the slightest movement in the room sent it recoiling into its hide. I moved it upstairs to give it peace and quiet. Now, except for me weekly handling session, feeding, and the changing of the water dish, it lives in quiet.

The avian liver as a bridge scent is interesting. I can put some on the lizards for a while, and then put some on a mouse and see what happens.

I have some time though. Large male anoles leave a large lump in the little guy, and I can eventually move to double anoles if I need to. I just wanted to start getting a feel for how to go about this now. I'm not even 100% convinced that a strict mouse diet would be best for it as an adult. They're slender snakes that regularly eat a wide range of foods - not just rodents and lizards. I think if I could get it eating an assortment of frozen items from safe sources, I would prefer this route.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 4th, 2017, 4:42 pm 
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Re: avian liver: I've also heard of tuna juice (from the can) as a bridge scent.

I have a problem feeder; a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake (Bogertophis subocularis) that I acquired WC over a month ago. I can't get it to eat. It seems to show interest initially in anything presented to it, but once it gets a sniff, it goes the other direction. So far I've tried:

F/T fuzzie
F/T pinkie
Live rat pup
Live brown anole

Hasn't eaten any of these things. I've been told by some highly experienced herpetoculturists to try a wild mouse, or at least a "dark" pet-type mouse, which I've yet to do (I have someone looking for wild mice for me). I'm pretty frustrated as this snake was picked up under some unusual circumstances (thought to have been hit by a truck, was collected as a DOR for deposit with a university collection, but survived with no apparent injuries--it has defecated and shed its skin since I've had it) and I'd like to see it thrive.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 4th, 2017, 5:42 pm 
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Try giving it a vertical hide for a while and see if increases his security level. But let him have it for a while before you try feeding him.

With your geographic if you can go small with a wild mouse, prekilled with a nice piece of bloody scalp peeled open that would be first choice

Frozed thawed mice, often have strong unacceptable smells depending how they are processed. Ammonia, cheap pine shavings, lab block dust. So wash them well if used. For such a wild born infrared ninja.

Wild mice are never dirty.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 4th, 2017, 6:07 pm 
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If you put a live little one and he doesnt eat it after 20 minutes or seems to get restless or strikes at it without wrapping, take it out. It can stave off acceptance.

Strangely enough a very clean thawed or pre killed mouse with open tissue/blood on head, snout can work better, if you can slip it in, it is almost as if the snake 'doesnt know' he hasnt constricted it, and skips to the next sequence of locating the head of prey and swallowing.

I think the blood/ruptured pelt at the snout replicates petechial hemorrhage of eyes, nose mouth per constriction, as a sequential jacobson's cue


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 6th, 2017, 10:27 am 
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Whip update.

I washed a pinkie today and accidentally peeled some of the skin back. I took a frozen anole and made it 'hug' the pinkie and placed the whole thing in the whip's tank under the heat lamp. I left to run some errands and returned to find both anole and pinkie missing. The previous time it ate a mouse was with the anole sandwich. Today it was an open faced sandwich. I think eventually it will just eat the mouse if I keep this process going.

But now I have to ask - is a diet of exclusively rodents the best thing for an eastern coachwhip? What are some safe (parasite free) alternatives for the whip?


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 7th, 2017, 1:32 pm 

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Noah - love the open faced sandwich. That's pretty funny. As for what to feed it - this may be a little heretical but I wouldn't worry about parasites, at least not native ones. I would offer that animal a variety of field-collected prey (e.g., fresh DOR snakes, birds, small mammals; small game shot with non-lead ammo). But just for convenience and availability I reckon you'll mostly be feeding FT domestic rodents.

Chris - Kelly has some great insights and advice. I have been in your situation many times; almost always it works out but sometimes you really have to jump for a while. You have my sympathies. I forget where you live, and I see your friend is already on the case, but is there a way you can get out and either cruise up some DOR wild rodents, or flip some trash and raid some nests? Also, if you live where there are kangaroo rats, they are often very easy to just walk up to and grab, in your headlights. Use gloves or a snake sack, and be ready for a strong kick.

Alternatively, you could try "normal" hamsters or dwarf hamsters. They are often very tempting for a snake that cannot accept domestic mice at the moment.

All these options can be tried as the actual feed item if the right size, or used to scent something else, like pink rats. I agree about the off-putting smell of domestic mice - they are the worst. Plenty of wild snakes want nothing to do with the pissy reek of domesticated house mice.

A bar of Ivory soap is your friend in a pinch. Just sayin'...really lather that piss-burger up, and rinse well.

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 8th, 2017, 9:04 am 
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Sounds like you're over the first hump by getting it to take anything, Noah.

First rule with a primarily sight feeder, stating the obvious, is that even wild parasite carrying food is better than no food to get them started.
(Probably greater than 90% of the parasites are helminthes that can usually later be totally controlled later with two doses of fenbendazole.)

A trick that some “alterna” breeders have used for years is to pure’ a few lizards (usually Sceloporous or Uta for them) with a machine or just a very sharp knife. Then with a 50/50 mix of lizard and water, they froze it in tiny ice cubes to later thaw for immersing and thus scenting pinks.

Another item I’ve used on other sight feeders for a start is to impale the scented, dead pink on a long thin, wooden shish Kabob skewer, so it can be offered with as little intrusion as possible.

Bird parts have been mentioned. Day old quail are often an offer that can turn around a difficult eater.

Finally, over the last 60 years of keeping, I’ve found most excitable animals take food quicker in a cage with a side door instead of a top door or cover. When you think that their predator attacks are from above, this makes sense.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 8th, 2017, 9:06 am 
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Chris
Quote:
I have a problem feeder; a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake (Bogertophis subocularis) that I acquired WC over a month ago. I can't get it to eat. It seems to show interest initially in anything presented to it, but once it gets a sniff, it goes the other direction. So far I've tried:

F/T fuzzie
F/T pinkie
Live rat pup
Live brown anole

Hasn't eaten any of these things. I've been told by some highly experienced herpetoculturists to try a wild mouse, or at least a "dark" pet-type mouse, which I've yet to do (I have someone looking for wild mice for me). I'm pretty frustrated as this snake was picked up under some unusual circumstances (thought to have been hit by a truck, was collected as a DOR for deposit with a university collection, but survived with no apparent injuries--it has defecated and shed its skin since I've had it) and I'd like to see it thrive.

The size/age of the suboc and the location collected can be a factor.
Wild Subocs, especially over 24 inches, are mostly problematic feeders. The most successful method (albeit inconvenient in most of the east) is to start them feeding on Kargaroo rats, sometimes White footed mice, and sometimes baby quail, then scented over to lab mice.
One time in the late ‘80s I switched one over with Gerbils.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 16th, 2017, 10:51 am 
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It would be cool to follow the Coachwhip story - a fascinating juvenile to focus on.

What/how/when he refuses or accepts, behavior notes, have my interest and Im sure many others.

Cool territory


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 16th, 2017, 1:44 pm 
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The last offering was last Sunday and I again offered an open-faced sandwich of anole and pinkie. But it refused both. I wasn't bothered by this. It did eat 2 prey items on the last feed, so perhaps it was full. Also, I have not seen it out looking around, displaying the characteristic traits of 'hunting'.

She eats regularly, but not weekly. Perhaps 2-3 weeks in a row, and then she'll refuse one week and pick up again the next. I have records of all of this starting from when I found her.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 16th, 2017, 2:25 pm 
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Yeah I wouldnt be worried either.

The actual data of what she does is what's important than what might be 'believed' to be expected.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 17th, 2017, 1:04 pm 
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I've decided not to resist suggesting a zoomed 5.0 or 10.0. I use 10.0 because of the screens. My most recent and consciously observed guy has been a multifasciata hatched in 2011 who has been day cycled with uvb since his first week out of the egg.

Ive used them for years on snakes. Its an easy way to include a very basic, normalizing element that's missing in indoor situ.

I suggest zoo med tubes. The other brands dont test as well range and decay rate wise.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 17th, 2017, 2:39 pm 
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Electromagnetically its the same as exposure to mild sunlight. Which is why the tubes are able to grow turtles and lizards inside.

Natural sunshine has great intensity factors but is difficult to corral and manage in an indoor vivarium. Its too easy to overheat, and the exposure moves in a magnified slice of time frame that is not efficient to manage.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 27th, 2017, 7:04 am 
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I have some type of heat and UVA light bulb. It is an old one from I think ZooMed.

The whip is in ts own tank (obviously) but it is also in its own room (the office) which has two large windows. The whip's tank is not directly in front of the windows, but the room does get bright in the morning and dark at night, following the usual day/night cycle. We are rarely in our office after dark. If work is done in here, it is like right now (I'm sitting in here as I type this at 11am on a Sunday), it is often done during normal daylight hours.

I will switch the tank light on about 3x a week, but only during daylight hours. I typically will turn it on during a feeding day, the day after a feeding day, and then one day randomly mid-week.

I offered another f/t anole/pinkie option and the whip refused twice. So I dropped in a rather large anole (live) and it took that without any issue. I would rather see it eat lizards, alive or dead, than not eat. I will keep trying with mice as it gets older. It is only about 2' long and has lots of growing yet to do. I guess really as long as it has a varied diet, then I will be happy.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 27th, 2017, 12:22 pm 
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I'd love the opportunity to raise/observe that species juvenile with full spectrum uva-uvb.

With some own captives Ive done some investigation including minor manipulation of the photo period re circadian rhythms and find wavelengths detectable or at least present as detectable under the brief circumstances it is applied (that way)

Otherwise I use it in daily husbandry routine following the daylight hours of my area.

Interesting stuff. At least it is to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 28th, 2017, 10:49 am 
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I am considering getting a ava/uvb light for it. I'm not sure it needs any extra heat, but light probably will be good for it. Although, I think they likely spend a fair amount of time underground in burrows and under cover.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: August 28th, 2017, 11:18 am 
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Im hoping to move at least my california natives to what we call the big window room at my house, some things have changed in domicile strategy to enable it. I will still provide the tubes because of window limitations but I think it will be better. Dawn and Dusk and moonlight at night. Its a great crepuscular spot.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 11th, 2017, 7:14 pm 
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BillMcGighan wrote:
The size/age of the suboc and the location collected can be a factor.
Wild Subocs, especially over 24 inches, are mostly problematic feeders. The most successful method (albeit inconvenient in most of the east) is to start them feeding on Kargaroo rats, sometimes White footed mice, and sometimes baby quail, then scented over to lab mice.


It appears I finally have experienced a low level of success with my 40 inch WC female suboc. She took a F/T day-old quail last night. In the 2.5 months I've had her, she's eaten one F/T pinkie, this quail, and shed twice. I'm now cautiously optimistic. I have nine more baby quail, and if I can get her consistently feeding on them, I'll attempt to use the last few to scent the colored F/T mice I bought at the same time, and use those to transition her to white mice.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 11th, 2017, 10:49 pm 
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I have wanted to use quail for enrichment, and to break away from reliance on one food model just because I think its good. My interest in doing that stopped after a few tries being unsuccessful finding them with the companies being out of the chicks I would feed my smaller king and my larger male gallotia. I am in touch with the people who have my little monitors too who would be interested in knowing of a consistent supplier.

It can be messier and less expedient scenting with bodies than the liver, perhaps give it a try. Quail are small galliformes - basically little chickens. I have shared and practiced the method with others on a person to person mode with repeated success, in this format more people might be helped if someone they like expresses success with it. There is a strong attractant factor to liver tissue for carnivores.

A more complete scent density is achieved with it in pureed form and very little is needed. It stays viable for quite some time frozen if sealed. One liver will probably be more than you need.


Kelly McDougall


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 12th, 2017, 8:34 am 
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Not an advertisement - just a source.
Rodentpro has frozen day old quail in numbers.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 12th, 2017, 5:04 pm 
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Thanks Bill. I talked to Pete today and I would have to split the shipping cost for the amount, I at one time had some clients excited about them where I used to work but there is no one there now that is going to promote them. I only need a fraction of the amount to shipping cost unless I fed them to my cat, she eats raw meat&organs but Im happy with what she's on right now.

Hey Bill my remarks on the liver dab wasnt meant as an overstep of your suggestion at all, just a breakdown of another method that may have features some would find compatible with their routines.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 12th, 2017, 6:56 pm 
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BillMcGighan wrote:
Not an advertisement - just a source.
Rodentpro has frozen day old quail in numbers.


I went with Layne Labs as I've ordered feeders from them before (on recommendation of Scott Waters) and have been happy with their product and service. I can't speak as to consistent availability year-round; I have only ordered quail from them this month for the first time.

Re: Kelly's suggestion about liver. If Ms. Suboc is happy eating the quail (and I hope she'll provide repeat performances in the near future), why would I need to break out the livers? Are you referring to just using the livers specifically to scent rodents as being advantageous to simply putting the quail in with the rodents and getting the overall external "body" scent to transfer?


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 12th, 2017, 7:19 pm 
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Chris - It wasnt clear to me that you were going to continue to feed her quail or that you preferred to achieve a transference to mice.

I have used Layne - after the Mouse factory ended I needed to find a supplier for the dept, I liked them, but ended up using another because of a kind of 'broker delivery' deal. At the time I was wanting (quail) chicks they happened to be out - as were all of the other sources I contacted, so its very nice to hear.

Its been my experience once a snake starts eating and enters young adulthood - they will accept rodents and chicks (ie; chicken is what Ive been used to) both. Thats been what I have encountered with boas, rats, drys.

I think it is a positive to offer more than one food type. Why not? But there is nothing wrong with feeding quail. I dont think anything Ive posted so far implied that.

Because the topic was switching and scenting the method I described seem germane to the discussion.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 12th, 2017, 9:23 pm 
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Kelly
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Hey Bill my remarks on the liver dab wasnt meant as an overstep of your suggestion at all, just a breakdown of another method that may have features some would find compatible with their routines.
Not to worry... Anything that will get a captive eating is a good thing. There's very little right or wrong on this subject, if success is the outcome.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 13th, 2017, 9:39 am 
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The interesting thing for me is how the liquified avian liver works for lizard specialists, it evokes questions on the way smells are interpreted - the incidence of a lizard specialist species raiding a nest is small, but possible.

But I speculate it is something else, a favor in blood chemistry that 'passes' or factors close enough to the mechanisms of scent interpretation to be accepted as a saurian cue. The attention perk observed in using it is suggestive of that to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 13th, 2017, 10:29 am 

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Quote:
The interesting thing for me is how the liquified avian liver works for lizard specialists


Exactly. Me too. Lepidosaurs & archosaurs may share some smellable attributes...

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a favor in blood chemistry that 'passes', or factors close enough to the mechanisms of scent interpretation to be accepted as a saurian cue. The attention perk observed in using it is suggestive of that to me.


Yep.

Congrats, Chris on the apparent resolution of the crisis. I've only kept a few subocs but based on those, I wouldn't have imagined a reluctant feeder among their tribe...but then again none of mine were WCs.

Remind me - was yours collected in fall or otherwise? Across all snakes, I have had the most trouble with animals collected in September or October. Most things I've picked up in May or June have done great. Just an observation.

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 18th, 2017, 8:43 am 
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I apologize for not checking this forum sooner.

Kelly Mc wrote:
Chris - It wasnt clear to me that you were going to continue to feed her quail or that you preferred to achieve a transference to mice.
. . .
Because the topic was switching and scenting the method I described seem germane to the discussion.


I plan on transferring her to mice, for reasons y'all have already said (superior availability/convenience). I was just wondering why I would need to specifically use the liver as a scenting instrument vs. the entire quail. Subocs are rodent eaters in the wild (they just eat "other kinds" that smell different than our lab mice) so I don't think I'll need to resort to liver scent specifically.


Jimi wrote:
Congrats, Chris on the apparent resolution of the crisis. I've only kept a few subocs but based on those, I wouldn't have imagined a reluctant feeder among their tribe...but then again none of mine were WCs.


It has been explained to me their ease of getting to eat falls in the following rank-order: captive-bred, WC hatchlings/juveniles, WC adult males, WC adult females. Of course I ended up with the most difficult to get feeding. :(

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Remind me - was yours collected in fall or otherwise? Across all snakes, I have had the most trouble with animals collected in September or October. Most things I've picked up in May or June have done great. Just an observation.


End of June.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 18th, 2017, 5:31 pm 
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Hi Chris, I appreciate your response and feedback. :)
In my prior post I guess I was thinking along the lines of, and including general experiences of thawing and scenting with accepted bodies/ and using liver which I have already mentioned but also in the case of really picky guys to avoid any scent fetishizing on some detail of the quail, if you were going all mice, using the liver slurry can continue on them.

Its funny that I put my name on one of the posts about the method which really does streamline things and I realized if someone lurking did try it and it was effective for them, if in the future I saw it on a blog somewhere and it caught on, like things do, I wanted to be nerdily immortalized for my idea. I do feel positive about it.

Its tricky though and something I have noticed with these things - that certain techniques really must be followed through in steady fashion. There is a tendency to try one thing - then the next in close serial attempts but with snakes such variety of experiences can thwart success. They really are very tentative and more patient than our goals are. Time moves for differently for them and novelty on a finer scale of reception.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 18th, 2017, 7:52 pm 
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To break it down for anyone interested, using the liver slurry enables you to use it directly on the desired food item, substituting for the 'other' type of animal.

Although this discussion started with Noah's two-species sandwich and went on to include Chris having both quail and mice, the slurry has the most value for people who only have mice, or not want to buy/keep/store/thaw an additional type of food animal.

It effectively substitutes for the scenting animal.


Also, getting some poultry liver at the store and trying to rub the food item with it isnt the same as prepping it in a slurry and using it in that form on a clean, rinsed thawed mouse. Its slippery and unmanageable and the product you get from the outside of the organ is thin and watery.

A denser, richer property is created by blending it. Then it is easily re used in small chips by freezing it in a flat wafer and dabbing the mouth or coating the head with the melted liver.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 21st, 2017, 8:53 am 

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Quote:
used in small chips ... coating the head with ...


Yes! I call it "the helmet". I have done similar things by skinning bullfrogs and wrapping a live or a FT (& washed) pink's head with the skin. These "helmet tricks" have worked quite well for tease-feeding arboreals, and also as left-in-cage items for terrestrials. Generally it's part of the transition from getting them feeding greedily on their own, on live frogs or lizards, to feeding greedily on unscented FT mice or mouse parts. Often it works the first time, and with 3 or 4 more unrefused helmets they go to straight unscented pinks with no refusals.

Frog skin can act kind of similar to nori ("lick & stick"), for any of you who make sushi rolls or musubis, etc. But this liver-sliver thing looks awesome.

Thanks Kelly!


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 21st, 2017, 5:50 pm 
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I laughed out loud reading: 3 or 4 unrefused helmets.. Yes, 3, 4 feedings for me too seem to be the magic number of feedings before you get the prize of ready feeder. This goes for guys Ive had to tube feed too.

There have been exceptions, my multifasciata started refusing again after he sized up to hoppers and small weanlings but its no trouble to put a little extra step into his feeding routine.

Things like this are actually kind of fun, and incite mental explorations into the whys of snake feeding behavior. Eating for a snake is a pretty big physiological deal, probably surpassed only by female reproduction processes.

I appreciate your comments about an admittedly strange recommendation. I have always thought of viper keepers as the Spocks of Snake keeping.

Jimi was there a particular area of frog skin that was preferable to work with? Easier to manipulate or 'fit'? Im curious!


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 21st, 2017, 6:19 pm 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
Its funny that I put my name on one of the posts about the method which really does streamline things and I realized if someone lurking did try it and it was effective for them, if in the future I saw it on a blog somewhere and it caught on, like things do, I wanted to be nerdily immortalized for my idea. I do feel positive about it.


I think it's a great concept, and you know you have a ready place for immortalizing that information should you choose to write an article yourself...would be a valuable piece of info-sharing. ;)

My suboc ate two F/T day-old quail last night, within 20 minutes of their introduction to her lair. I'm feeling very good about her chances, though I do want to see her actually eating them (curious if she's constricting or realizes they're dead). I might have to set up the ol' GoPro on time lapse.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 21st, 2017, 7:46 pm 
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Thanks Chris, I would be honored to do that.

I have some pretty good (for me) pics of a lizard specialist in phases of being attracted on to eating.

I wish I still had baby alterna to work with, it would align well with the format of which you speak. That and leopard gecko urates that worked too!

But maybe it would be acceptable to include them as a recollection/anecdotal if you deem appropriate.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 21st, 2017, 8:40 pm 
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Hey Chris - Glad to hear about your girl - sounds like the war is over!


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2017, 8:03 am 

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Quote:
Jimi was there a particular area of frog skin that was preferable to work with? Easier to manipulate or 'fit'? Im curious!


Good question. Yes, definitely.

So, you know how some little snakes get pretty excited on presentation of a potential food item? I mean, unstarted feeders will often just avoid completely, but once they are feeding well on something you're trying to switch them from, if you put something interesting in front of them they will often investigate it quite vigorously.

The problem comes when they investigate and for whatever reason decide, "meh, not interested". You had them, and you lost them. Frustrating, right?

So the best piece of frog skin for the "pinkie helmet trick", at least the first couple of trials, is the sleeves and pant legs. Just cut all the way around the arms at wrist and shoulder and pull the skin off over the hands. Use forceps. The skin is very tough, and it isn't attached all that strongly. Same drill on the legs. Skin will of course come off inside-out. Pull it back through itself so the outside is back outside. Then cut the full sleeve into 2 or 3 lengths, and pull one of those little "rings" right over a pink's snout and skull like a Hannibal Lecter neckwarmer. Dab a wet finger (you can make a watery slurry or gravy with pulverized frog) all over the skin and the whole pink, and then let it dry a bit so it'll all stick together better. The other rings, you save for next time. Or pull them up over the pink's midsection - that works too. A skin sweater. Yum.

All this trouble is to make sure the oh-so-nice-smelling skin doesn't flake or slide off the pink, and make the underlying pink all of a sudden not so interesting. You make it a coherent unit, not a fall-apart sandwich.

Hope this is clear and useful to someone out there.

I find the best frog for this is a metamorph bullfrog. Perfect size, thick skin, seasonally available in many places. Just go collect a few when they're out there, and pop them in the freezer.

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 27th, 2017, 7:03 pm 
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UPDATE on my suboc (I know this is a thread on Coachwhips, but we're talking about transitioning between prey items):

Tonight (1 week after she ate her last two one-day-old quail) I decided to try thawing a day-old quail and a "colored" mouse (i.e. dark gray, not a standard white mouse) in a Ziploc bag together. After that, I boiled a cup of water and placed both in it, since she has been accustomed to eating boiled quail. I figured maybe stewing both prey items would help make them seem more "similar" in her mind.

Either it worked, or was completely unnecessary (great conclusion!), because she ate BOTH tonight--the quail approximately 5 minutes after placing both items in her enclosure, and the mouse approximately 11 minutes after that. She has a nice food bolus and weigh-in this weekend will hopefully show her at LEAST at her weight at time of collection three months ago (I weigh my entire collection at the end of each month).

Best of all, I got the feeding events tonight on video, as I was curious if she bothered constricting her food. Should you care to see it, what you'll see is the two items placed on a piece of cardboard in her enclosure (a very rudimentary "dry hiding place"), then her return to her moist hide. The enclosure is a sweater box modified with increase ventilation, per Dusty Rhoads' (The Complete Suboc) specifications. The video is a time-lapse, with one frame recorded every 2 seconds--which means each second of video represents one minute of real time as it happened. If you watch closely, even with the 2-second recording interval you can see the snake "yawn" to realign her jaws after swallowing each prey item.

Link to Feeding Video


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 8:22 am 

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Very cool, Chris. Congrats. That "double-stuff tea" is something I have done too - it gets the scent of the new (refused) item on the old (eagerly-accepted) one, and vice-versa. I think it works.

Quote:
Either it worked, or was completely unnecessary (great conclusion!), because she ate BOTH tonight--the quail approximately 5 minutes after placing both items in her enclosure, and the mouse approximately 11 minutes after that.


My guess is, it worked, and your efforts were probably necessary. I suggest doing the same thing (offer the dual-soaked bird and the rodent) another 2-3 times before trying JUST the mouse from another "double-stuff tea". Or, put the mouse in first and if she takes it, then offer the bird. Then if that works, do it another few times before just going for an unscented mouse.

Given where we are in the annual calendar, you might try that unscented mouse as your first springtime offering post-brumation. All this might seem like overkill, and yeah it might be. But I don't like back-sliding. I have suffered back-sliding, I think from trying to make the switch too fast. You gotta make taking a mouse a real habit. Make the new habit as easy to ingrain as possible!

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 10:16 am 
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I think the only thing that would stop her now, as a rat snake and a kind of 'sensitized' one as rat snakes go, is to be put on the defensive, by having her cage cleaned out, being handled, or a strong smelling mouse, but I dont think you would do any of those things, you wont admit it here ha, but I know she is the Princess of your collection. heehee. and why waste all those nice quail.

I have had a few CB sub oc hatchlings dellied my way along with the other guys and do not remember having those babies causing me extra work. When in control of ordering hatchlings I deferred from this species as such large percentage became (diurnally) handled pets and I was like the soup nazi

but I can easily understand why a wc one would be 'culture shocked'.

As a side note upright hide for 2 adult sub oc kept together and it was reported back they really liked it.
I think the lithe lay in diverse spaces


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 2:40 pm 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
I think the only thing that would stop her now, as a rat snake and a kind of 'sensitized' one as rat snakes go, is to be put on the defensive, by having her cage cleaned out, being handled, or a strong smelling mouse, but I dont think you would do any of those things, you wont admit it here ha, but I know she is the Princess of your collection. heehee. and why waste all those nice quail.


Hmm...monthly "major" cage cleaning is supposed to be this weekend...since she only recently started eating I haven't had to clean hers other than spot-cleaning and I expect not to have to do much else this time either.

It's weird (to me, having dealt primarily with herps that either dislike or are indifferent to handling)...we held her/handled her for about half an hour this past weekend, and it's as if she enjoys it. Plus, she always "comes over" to the nearest side of the enclosure to see us when we're in the room working with other animals. Definitely a special critter.

Jimi, I'll plan on offering more of the same in the coming weeks (two-species cocktail) until the quail run out...probably every other week since that meal last night seemed a bit much!


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 3:30 pm 
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Mom & Son team (vertical cork log) handled theirs too. I think they were EBV snakes. They were well informed. Im sure from a group of hatchlings bred there, or by an employee.

Its not that handling is a bad thing, nor cage cleaning but when the feeding starts - streamlining input on the feeding event can be important in a snake that is a wild caught animal, or has been in previous circumstances. Just something I have noted, but it is your animal and you are the one reading her on an intimate level.

Glad she's doing well and enjoyed your video.

I think its the first video I remember seeing in Herpetoculture Forum


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 3:36 pm 
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Sometimes following what a snake does is better than following our own schedule for it, I have found. I dont even follow a 'tight' schedule feeding my personal animals but watch for a nose, a prowl, an ambient temp rise.

Sometimes I even skip one every so often as is done with other captive carnivores


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 4:48 am 
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Wow, Chris,
Just got back from a month long herping/birding/fishing trip, mostly out of signal, and was really pleased to see this post.

Good job.

Couple quick thoughts:
1 I agree with Jimi. mix them for a couple feedings.
2. Wait a few days longer than an eastern ratsnake to provide food.
3. I'd used a white mouse next since it's scent feeding.
4, the video covers it's response well
5. You can't go wrong with Dusty's book.
6. The size of the animal is good for mice, but it should be said that the best size prey should not be greater in diameter then the snake.

Finally, because of the fact that this was wild caught, consideration should be made to "deworm" the animal. When they are eating, it's much easier to load a mouse or quail with fenbendazol.

Regards, Bill

ps
For obvious reasons, I didn't mention this one, but another food item that turns wild subocs around is a bat!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 11:52 am 
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Or he could just give her a mouse and if she eats it, boom, progress.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 11:55 am 
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There just isnt any reason not to use up all that good quail.


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 Post subject: Re: Switching an Eastern Coachwhip
PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 12:16 pm 
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Something is going on with my PC, the keyboard is stalling operating oddly so sorry if there are typos coming Chris you will have her for a long time , like senticolis and taeniurus such ingenius masters of spaces and terrain, how cool it would be to build an adult enclosure for her future with for you to enjoy her utilizing her natural gifts

Fun dad project. The bigger the better dresser, armoire easy


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