Egg binding questions

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simus343
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Egg binding questions

Post by simus343 »

My female Heterodon platirhinos has been laying eggs lately. She laid two May 26th at about 6am. She laid another one today at about 8:30pm, a little over 36 hours after the other two. At first I thought she might have egg binding as only two eggs is unusual. Then, she gave me another so I don't think so...but still maybe? She doesn't want to use her nest box, so I'm thinking of changing it to collected sand, away from sphagnum, from a site where I know wild H. platirhinos lay their eggs. Again, just for the nest box.

So here's my questions.
1) What are signs of egg binding besides the female laying far less than she should
and
2) Will signs vary from species to species for a various amount of variables?

I'm sure there are several people on here with experience with egg binding. Thanks again for any insight on this.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

1rst: Restlessness that is distinctively dysphoric - for example a suitable brood box & media that was favored before, she goes in but weaves out repeatedly.
2nd:Laying out in places in env she never did before or/and in incomplete or atypical coil position.
3rd: Lining of cloaca everted or visible like when a snake is defecating.(sometimes egg is visible)
4th: An Egg/s have been deposited but more can be palped 48+ hrs after.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

Simus my post cut short to finish I would have to say that the only marked difference in dystocia I have known of is inertia in pythons and boas which because of keeping methods can be hard to detect.

In dystocia, like other conditions that affect a wide variety of taxa there are more similiarities than differences in how they present

There are mammalian and avian versions of the expressions listed above for snakes.

There is a tendency toward overspecialization often that leads to perceptions of differences that do not really exist, because the individual describing or assigning them to a given species has not had the opportunity to see or identify it or its version in others.


I hope shes not keep us posted and let her be if its only been a day or two

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

How is she?

If you want to see if its just a small clutch, you can palp for eggs by letting her ventris flow across the pads of your fingers - if they're in there its like : ..bump...bump...bump...

The more relaxed the snake is, the easer to feel them bump by. As a general note for future you can count the eggs your gravid females will lay it takes very little practice. For you probably doing it one time is all it will take.

Please let us know how its going.

simus343
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by simus343 »

Thanks Kelly. She is still a small reproductive adult, so I'm not expecting a huge clutch. The clutch size has massive variance in H. platirhinos. I believe it is 5-72. Currently she is laying her fifth egg. I believe what caused the delays is my first reaction. I thought she wasn't going to lay this season and so I was not expecting anything. When only two came (I didn't even wait 12 hours to see if any more) out I started making all sorts of in-promptu changes. I believe this is what caused he to delay. She eventually began to lay more though.

Something that I have learned through Berkley, Hognose may be difficult to palp for eggs because of extremely leathery shells. When I first picked one up to move it to an incubation box - compared to a red rat snake egg the hognose egg is much more "pliable" so to say. I was holding her the day before she began and didn't feel a single thing.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

That's good to hear ( :

As for softer more diffusive shells in pre lay, as well as follicles and anomalous swellings and other tactile discernments - It wouldn't be tooting my horn to say that having small fingers and an obsession for physical detail has been a plus for me. Recently a parrot playing on the counter was suspected of eating a small rubber band - the little dime sized kind used to tie plastic bags closed. To let it go could have meant death for the parrot. To have it investigated and turn out negative would have meant the bird being sedated and scoped, perhaps unnecessarily. I palped the crop and not only could I tell that there was no rubber band in there, I could feel what he preferred out of his breakfast cup that day (the safflower)

Hey if folks can show off choking king cobras I can brag about my palp skills! heehee!

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

No I get it though. I've not dealt with hogs being eggbound and the body type and softness you describe would be a special pain, especially if she needed them palped out. I get it.

I'm glad its resolving for you. I thought about it alot and really hoped it would turn out ok.

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by BillMcGighan »

Hey if folks can show off choking king cobras I can brag about my palp skills! heehee!
:lol: :thumb: :lol:
It's a very good skill to have with animals!




Just a question and a thought:

Nick, or Berkeley, have you guys tried the “sock palp” method of counting eggs in Hogs. I've used it many times, but never with Heterodon?


The couple egg bound incidents I've dealt with were:
1. Infertile eggs - vegetable oil worked with one, surgery, the other.
2. Female rat snakes that should not yet have bred (too young). In both cases, aspirating the first egg with a syringe to about half size, the applying vegetable oil.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

Bill I have used with my fingers a kind of pull or draw and these eggy ladies have been mostly rescue rats and retro dated wild caught, unfertilized can be a definite factor, the slugs being non uniform and badly calcified.

Can you describe sock method?

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by BillMcGighan »

Can you describe sock method?
Sure, It entails putting a sock over your hand and letting the female crawl through a gentle grasp. Works on ovoviviparous as well.



(Afterwards you can put eyes on the sock and talk to it... Oh... wait a minute..... I wasn't supposed to say that..... disregard that.)

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

Ah interesting. Otherwise known as The Argylian Technique..get it ? seriously it takes such a wee degree of complexing for it to fall into the surgery realm. I think its why subliminally I have chosen to keep a kind of males Gentlemen's Club for my personal guys. Except for Sooner who is rescue. But ya males automatically are gonna bipass those lady problems.

Hey for what its worth I've routinely given all of my guys, and esp girls an occasional dose of tocopherol, a drop smudged on food item every 3rd feeding or so, after reading about the process of collegen production per chemical bond with calcium. I started doing this with chameleon females. Then later on the thought that tocopherol is abundant in wild food sources, live plants and seeds, that are mainstay of wild rodent diets, and perhaps not as available in dry pellet profiles.

What has appeared to me as significant results with the females, the calyptratus being litmus and gorgeous integrity of sheds for all.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

I think a mitigating normalcy is at play with the above, with a huge gamut of checks and balances in the generating and mobilization of materials in processes like egg production and ecdysis.

I tried once on a curious impulse of delight to raise a mouse colony on a more wildy diet of fresh plants, sprouted seeds and grains and occasional insects but I didn't have time to keep up with it.

Fun to think about more research that could be done about the nutritional profiles of reptiles.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

I'm not saying all dystocia happens because of what does or doesn't happen in a shell gland, I was just focusing on that for a minute. Muscle tone and other stuff is surely an influence in many instances, esp of fertilized females-eggs and wow I love this topic.

simus343
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by simus343 »

I could see how tocopherol may have some affect on snakes consuming rodents that eat the seed and plant matter, or on lizards and turtles that strait up consume the plant matter, but what about on a secondary or even tertiary predator like Heterodon? While H. nascius and H. kennerlyi may consume rodents in the wild and act as a primary predator, H. platirhinos and H. simus are secondary predators, feeding almost exclusively on amphibians.

My questioning stems from this: The value of predator feces as fertilizer vs primary consumer feces as fertilizer is less because it contains less nutrients. I'm not much of a gardener but I'm assuming it has to do with Nitrogen content. As the chemicals go farther up the food chain, the less prevalent they become within animals.

So, would the tocopherol - in nature, not through manual introduction - be as useful to a predator that naturally would get less? I would assume through evolution, over many generations, that any historic dependency would be lost on something that may have little to no presence in modern diets.
__________________________________________________
Then for my original conundrum, I believe there is indeed no egg binding. My female H. platirhinos is small for how big they can reach, but still certainly adult size. She has given me 6 well formed eggs that I now have incubating. One seems a little misshapen, rather swollen on one side, losing the symmetrical appearance of the rest for a more chicken egg-like appearance. A dud or perhaps just a little extra juice on the inside?

And thanks for the sock method. Right now I don't want to do that to check for more. Because she appears to have finished, I have given her a few large Anaxyrus terrestris - I'd rather she didn't puke them up all over me haha.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

That's an interesting insight, about Less. It would be hard to know without serum analysis of wild specimens. Insects, consume much matter including plant material which in turn are constitutionalized by toads I would think.

It seemed to benefit the vieleds. Vit E deficiency has been identified in various reptiles fed frozen food items, due to rancidity, which the antioxidant property of tocopherol has warrented its addition to the diet of captives fed a variety of frozen species.

Because its an abundant element in nature, making sure it is at least minimally available in the diet seems sensible.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

Lil' Addendum..Minimum is a tricky term, since the minimum nutritional requirements of reptiles have yet to be adequately studied or established.

Because they have not, nutritional realities, as well as space, light and other provisions in captivity have in many ways been frozen in time - some methods and beliefs never bridging past their conception in the 80s or even mid 70s.

Questions and re evaluations are forging tentative connections with new developments in research, and a bigger reef of comparison to draw from through time and practices.. and discussions like this :thumb:

simus343
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by simus343 »

I think this issue is about to change though. I know a few keepers that began in the late 70s and 80s. They, the ones I know, I becoming more progressive with their approach to keeping reptiles, namely snakes. They are striving to make their keeping match wild standards as far as a varied diet, temperature fluctuations, and humidity levels within substrate. There has also been speculation of creating a setup where the snakes can move between inside and outside - for more secure ground-dwelling species.

Its the people I know that started in the 50s and 60s that are much more reluctant to change their keeping methods, and therefor not doing much in advancing further knowledge.

I believe the reasons why there have not been much studies as to the minimum for herps, is
1 - No one wants to essentially starve and malnourish their herps until they eventually die, in order to find the "breaking point".
2 - There is no funding, or at least important reason against other projects that need funding, to provide for tools to analyze nutritional levels. Not all keepers can afford stuff to do that with - I don't think it would be as easy as doing a fecal exam for example.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

I don't think that starving or otherwise debilitating specimens is necessary to determine dietary guidelines, and most especially now, studies in zoo veterinary science has noted deficiencies occurring that point out a disparity between canonized recommendations and those deficiencies, with the deficiencies occurring within those implemented recommendations and lest we forget the vast array of other conditions & variables that would also be factored in which have been acknowledged by those investigations.

Counterintuitively it is the longer lifespans that have been achieved that have helped zoo medicine identify bioaccumulative effects of diet and care, as they are chronic - for instance many chordates can live, eat and breed with a large percentage loss of liver function for example.

Entrepreneur focused reptile husbandry, like the food industry, has a vested interest in minimal life support strategy which has dominantly colored the word Herpetoculture.

Herpetoculture seeking to provide an equation of resources that create more reality to the captive state is another realm.

Science runs to keep up with the epic abundance of reality.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

Simus could you share more detail about the set up where snakes move between inside and outside? I am interested in what that is

simus343
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by simus343 »

I will begin with basics and order it to best help follow my thought process and what I have heard. Mind you with the method below, apartments are a no-go and resell value of a house will likely collapse.

NOTE: BY NO MEANS ARE THESE DIRECTIONS FOR AN ACTUAL PROJECT. THIS SIMPLY DESCRIBES THE PROCESS OF AN IDEA IN PROGRESS. I am not an architect or electrician, so doing anything below may really screw up your house or cause a pet to escape.

1) Locate areas. Determine size of pens.
- Find an area inside and outside where you can put a cage inside and build a pen outside. Power outlets for heat/UVB/UVA/ other electronic additives must be present inside, or an extension cord used.

2) Start by drilling a hole in the wall leading from the intended location of the indoor cage into the outdoor world. Fill the hole with a PVC pipe of appropriate size for the snake to move in and out. I'm thinking something about 4-5 inches in diameter for snakes that I am interested in - ranging from smaller hognose up to the size of pine snakes.

3) Move the indoor cage into position. Drill a hole to connect the hole in the wall with the cage. Using PVC in the above step may help with connection. Another option is to custom build a cage around the area with the hole.

4) Build outdoor enclosure. I would recommend 4-6 feet high with a screen top reinforced with chicken wire or metal fence to keep racoons, birds, etc out and your snakes/lizards in. Note, I would also likely lay a concrete foundation and pile in soil and plant on top of this, with drains in the side of the wall to let water out to prevent flooding. Some snakes may burrow out otherwise.

5) Make sure the outdoor enclosure can be accessed by the keep, and is escape proof for reptile and intrusion proof for predators.

6) Add animal.

If I ever settle down into a house that I think I will die in one day, I may do this if I have a reptile that it will work for. Overall the idea is like a display bee hive. Indoor enclosure, pathway leading to outside. Difference is, the outside area will be enclosed as well and made to be escape proof. Some people do this for large lizards. As far as snakes, everything I know of currently - unless at a public installation (i.e. a serpentarium), is speculatory.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kelly Mc »

That's Beautiful.

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Kent VanSooy »

The San Diego Zoo has a recently-built indoor/outdoor enclosure that houses our local rattlesnakes. It's a great display, and the snakes appear relaxed and happy. It's nice seeing them sitting in the sunshine.

VICtort
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by VICtort »

I am convinced outdoor enclosures are incorporating/facilitating an important element which many captives do not get enough of....exercise. I work with Eastern Indigos, large and powerful Colubrids. People lucky enough to see Drymarchon in the wild, and especially those who handle them, remark how strong they are. The literature indicates they have relatively large ranges which suggests they get lots of exercise.

I acquired an adult captive bred/raised female that had two separate events of dystocia (egg binding) prior to my caring for her. I immediately started taking her outside and encouraged her to soak, feed, exercise in the warm climate, 4 to 6X/week. She has since produced three clutches of healthy eggs without incident/egg binding. This includes a record (?) 19 egg clutch in 2015. The only apparent difference between my care giving and that of the prior keeper is increased exercise. I realize one can not draw firm conclusions on this limited sample, but I think exercise may be an essential part of long term optimal captive care.

I notice wild snakes (and captives when given the option) often sqeeeze into tight crevices, holes and shelters, and this too may be a beneficial form of exercise. Whenever practical, I try to provide shelters,terraces., climbing challenges to captive reptiles of all types, utilizing rocks, logs, branches, PVC pipe, etc. This provides physical challenges, security, thermo regulation options and healthy exercise. I am not surprised when pampered, over fed, overweight and understimulated captives become egg bound. There are multiple reasons for dystocia, but I think lack of exercise is a common cause, and is often preventible with simple enclosure design and offering opportunities to exercise.

I think Kelly and Simus are on the right track, and others providing indoor/outdoor options. :thumb:

Yes, I recognize some species may thrive under simple and restrictive conditions (shoe boxes with heat strip), but most will benefit from greater mental and physical stimulation. A benefit of exercise may be reduced incidents of dystocia, a serious veterinary emergency. As discussed in previous threads, sun light may also benefit overall health of some species, and increased health and vigor and strength may reduce dystocia.


Vic

Jimi
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Re: Egg binding questions

Post by Jimi »

Interesting turn of a thread. For many construction types, punching a hole in an exterior wall and having it easily repairable & concealable (to future buyers, or to the same owner whose life circumstances have changed) is no big deal. Seriously, no big deal.

Also, I would simply run (or extend...) a power circuit outside in code-approved conduit, to a code-approved exterior receptacle. Extension cords are not a good idea (besides being illegal...) for long-term outdoor power supply. Exterior receptacles are generally desirable to all would-be buyers; they add some value to a home.

All I'm trying to say is, be mindful but not fearful. You don't have to wait until you're in the house you expect to die in. On average, an American dwelling changes ownership every 7 years. If you wait for "eternal stability", you'll probably never get your outside enclosures...you'll be dead, or so old you don't have the time or energy to take on the project.

So all you homeowner herp keepers who want indoor-outdoors enclosures - fire up your Sawzalls and get after it.

cheers
Jimi

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