A hibernation condundrum

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DracoRJC
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A hibernation condundrum

Post by DracoRJC » December 22nd, 2013, 7:53 pm

Hey all, I had to have my old high school teacher babysit my red-bellied water snake since August, and just took him back home a few days ago. He keeps him in the classroom, with a photoperiod determined by the light outside the window he sits next to. The room also has poor AC, so gets chilly in the winter. So it seems that the snake has started to slip into early hibernation, spending a lot of time hiding, but still coming out and about for a small part of the day, but refusing food since October. He lost more weight than I would have liked, and since I normally take him out every day and handle him like one would a corn snake (he's very tame), I tried to kick him out of hibernation with a longer photoperiod and warmer, more consistent temps. He has turned down food this week, but is very active and even inquisitive when I walk past the cage. So it seems he is awake, but will not feed despite his apparent restlessness. I should also mention that he was wild-caught by myself in southeastern Virginia this April, and normally fed like a champ from the get-go on minnows, frozen silversides, and the occasional frog. I would love to get his weight back up, even though its nowhere near the red zone yet, but for some reason its making me a bit more nervous than I would like. If anyone has any suggestions or thinks I am overreacting, I would love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks!
Ryan

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A hibernation condundrum

Post by Kelly Mc » December 23rd, 2013, 7:07 pm

There is alot going on with what you describe, and alot left out. There is a list of questions that could be asked that can help shape a clearer overview, but without doing that I will say that animals in the classroom are great, but sometimes when we cant know or control situ, well let us just say that many variables often dont set the tone for normal cycles and feeding responses. Without conditional control, the flux of human household or school room temperature values can be a gray zone that does not incite seasonal cues.

When we handle a snake also, we are imposing activity outside of its own volition. I am not interested in going Pro or Con or debating handling, but we do not actually know how it is always assessed by a snake. It is often not realized just how warmed up a snake can get in our 98.6 human hands, again not of its own volition, then its suddenly dropped/changed again. Im not suggesting they are delicate flowers but when a snake isnt eating, stability is more helpful than stimuli, I have found. Especially for the eclectically adapted and cryptic.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A hibernation condundrum

Post by Kelly Mc » December 23rd, 2013, 8:51 pm

From a practical standpoint of tips I could tell you what I would do, I will only offer the tips without debating as I am just going to share what I would do, and have done in situations with the wild caught, not feeding, stopped feeding, in light of what we have to go on, that has worked.

If it were me, and there was significant flesh value lost, I would tube feed the snake to get it nourished. That is what I do. If thats not cool for you then keep trying to find the magic food item. But thats just what I do like I said

I would also like to share this : Sphagnum or Green Moss. I dont know if you are using it in his environment already but if not, get it. I cant overestimate its power - but it has great effect. Use, Watch, See. For your guy it should be on the generous side of moist. But it Must be kept Fresh. It must not be left unrefreshed to foul.

In early Febuary I would apply a uvb/uva tube to sharpen the photoperiod with unfiltered whole light and define what time it is.

Thats what I would do and what I have done, altering specific details depending, that got many species from all over the world to start eating, including some weird ones.

ThomWild
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Re: A hibernation condundrum

Post by ThomWild » December 24th, 2013, 12:11 am

I agree with the suggestions Kelly listed, I have had success adding natural light for natricines. Something about actual basking and not just warmer temps seemed to help trigger something, in my observations anyway.

Something else may just be the natural cycle of what males would normally do after coming out of brumation, he may just be looking for some lovin. I don't recall whether you mentioned how old/big he is, but if he is a WC adult he may just be wired to (and accustomed to) get a jump on the competition.

-Thomas Wilder

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A hibernation condundrum

Post by Kelly Mc » December 24th, 2013, 1:58 am

Thomas picks up on the comment about the muds restlessness with an important insight. The month may not be as relevant as the snakes presented behaviors, and maybe a lengthy stuccato of temps coulda threw standard timing off kilter.

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