Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

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Zylah
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Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Zylah » 28 Jun 2010, 07:04

I write this unable to sleep, after having tried yet again without success to feed my little Seraphina. I've had her since April, and she has never once eaten or shown any interest in eating. I've called everyone I can, had people I know calling people, called the pet shop (they were NO help), looked online, and only found discouraging information. Some baby corn snakes do not eat, it's as simple as that. They hatch and they seem fine in every respect, like Seraphina - she's active, curious, friendly, and adorable - and they sell these snakes who don't know they have to eat. Some basic instinct is lacking that would make them eat rather than starve to death.

She is getting very thin; she does not seem distressed, she's still so active and curious about everything; the vets around here have no experience with snakes, and my options are very limited as to how far I can take her and how much I can afford to spend, given the sad fact that she simply is not interested.

Jake and I have tried everything, even the crazier things. I find it incredibly painful to see this, but from breeders' information (multiple sources), there is nothing to be done. They tell me she should never have been sold to me, but a fat lot of good THAT does. Besides, I don't believe it was a mistake that I chose her; she has been a delight in the time we've had her, and I have learned a great deal.

Some male moths hatch without mouths, so they can't eat; they live their brief lives and die, and this is how nature designed it. I am trying to take that philosophical viewpoint, but when you're attached this is a terrible thing.

I'm not even sure what to ask for as far as good wishes or prayers; it is so hard to know what I should do.
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Lailoken » 28 Jun 2010, 07:34

What kind of substrate are you using?

Does she have an enclosure large enough that she can fit her entire body into?

Can you take her to a vet that has experience with snakes that can check for bacterial/endoparasite infections?
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Claer » 28 Jun 2010, 10:36

Sorry to hear that you are having such problems. Unfortunately, non-feeding is a problem that seems to be increasing in pet snakes. Was she capitive breed? I also would recommend trying to find a good reptile vet, or very experienced breeder to consult. Can you google for a herpetology group to contact - or even a local zoo?

Other things to consider - has she ever shed her skin?

Patience is the key - but food presentation helps. I presume you are trying to feed her with a thawed pinky? Have you tried enticing the her by moving it about abit.

Perhaps you wear some perfume, or there is some other odour of which may be getting transferred to the food, which may in turn, be putting her off eating it. Sometimes is helps to try washing the pinky under the tap, holding it in tweezers. Don't touch the pinky with your fingers.
Other ideas to try to help - if she is still refusing.

Try and warm up the pinky a bit by putting it in hot water for a few minutes prior to feeding.

You could try confining her in a much smaller than usual container, along with a pinky. I have seen styrofoam cups used (like from coffee vending machines) or margarine tubs - pop the snake and mouse in one (still inside the vivarium) and leave for a while.

Another thing that I have read that some people have tried, is 'braining'. Not that nice -but it is where you puncture the head of the mouse with a knife point. The increased smell from the mouse may attract the snake better.

Although it is easier said than done, do try not to keep disturbing her when food is placed in the vivarium.

Some snakes are only interested in live prey - and that is very difficult to deal with (no sure about elsewhere, but here in the UK live feeding of vertebrates is illegal). However, I have know some people to do this for the snakes welfare as they just can't get them to eat any other way. I would not suggest it though unless all else fails. If this is successful, you will need to get her onto eating pre-killed mice as soon as possible. Live feeding later when feeding larger mice, can be injurious for your snake if the mouse turns on the snake and bites it (it does happen!).

If you have tried everything and are still getting nowhere - but for ethical reasons don't want to do the live feeding - their are only two other options.

1) to blend up a pinky and syringe feed her. Not easy or pleasant and you can only do tiny bit at a time. There is a real risk of damaging a small snake this way too unless you can find someone to show you how to do it. Once fed like this - it is highly unlikely that she will ever feed normally.

2) if she is still not feeding and her weight is falling still - very sadly you may need to consider putting her to sleep.

I hope you get a break through very soon.
Claer /|\
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Zylah
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Zylah » 28 Jun 2010, 16:23

Claer, thank you so much for your reply - but I have literally tried almost every single thing you mentioned, including live prey. She's afraid of it. She loves to play when Jake or I reach our hands in, but if we have food - dead or alive, in tweezers, tongs, or fingers - she recoils and goes to hide. I tried putting her in a separate smaller container, covering it, and leaving her alone several times; she would then coil around the pinky but not be remotely interested in eating it. I'd come back and find her wrapped around it, or if she had room, on the other side of the container from it, waiting to get out. We've warmed it for her, made it dance, etc; but of course given her aversion to live prey, that did not fly with her at all.

I have not tried force-feeding her, as I have ethical problems with that as well as it being physically difficult with such a small snake. I don't wear perfume, I only wear essential oils once in a while; so I changed my soap a few times. She never recoiled from me, only from the food. Jake doesn't wear scent at all, and he had no success either. No, she's never shed her skin.

Lailoken - she's in a ten-gallon tank and she's very small. I would have had to upgrade her in about four years, given normal growth, but for the present she's very comfortable. She has a warm side and a cool side, a dish of water, a hide, and her substrate is a mix of sphagnum and peat moss; she loves burrowing.

Yes, I do think I may need to put her down soon... :gloomy:
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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Claer
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Claer » 28 Jun 2010, 22:57

You mention she hasn't shed her skin. Sometimes snakes will not feed until they have shed their first skin, and I wonder if that is the problem. As youngesters they should shed quite frequently - every four or five weeks or so. I have only experience of helping snakes that have shown signs of shedding and are having problems, but not one that has never moulted. I take it she is showing no signs of shedding at all? I am not sure how to try to enduce that, or if it is even wise to try to.
I can only suggest that you try joining the below forum and asking people there http://www.thecornsnake.co.uk/corn_snake_forum.htm
It is a UK forum, but I am sure someone will help if they can.
Any chance of finding a vet to take her too? I would try that before resorting to having to put her to sleep just yet.
Sorry not to be able to help more. I hope someone else can - and if they do and it works - please let us know.
Please keep us updated - and good luck. Rooting for little Seraphina, and you to find a way to help her.
Fingers crossed.
Claer /|\
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Zylah » 16 Jul 2010, 03:37

Claer, thank you for your input and concern. I did try everything I could; talked to snake breeders as well as a vet, did what they suggested, and I belonged to a corn snake forum. Nothing worked, however. :gloomy: We did end up having to put her down.

I buried her under the central stone of the triskele labyrinth I started in my garden.

One good thing that came of it was that it became a teaching opportunity with my youngest son. He was as upset as I was, and said, 'Stupid world! Why do we have to die?' So we talked for a long time about the way druids see the cycle of days and years as a parallel to the cycle of lives; that this is not a stupid place, it's a hard place because it's a teaching place.

We want another corn snake one day, but not for a little while. And when we do get one, we'll make certain it's a proven eater. I miss my Seraph, but I'm glad I had her. (although I would rather not go through this again... *sigh*)
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Nightfalls » 16 Jul 2010, 03:42

:-( :gloomy: :candle:
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the Horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby samsal77 » 16 Jul 2010, 05:05

So sorry for your loss :-( . But how wonderful that she had a family that cared so much for her during her life!
Samantha

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Zylah
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Zylah » 19 Jul 2010, 22:26

Thank you both :hug:
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Claer » 21 Jul 2010, 14:44

Zylah,
So very sorry to hear this news. May Seraphina journey well, and you find comfort in knowing you did all you could for her.
:candle:
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Lailoken » 21 Jul 2010, 15:40

Oh how terrible Zylah. I'm so sorry to hear this.

:hug:
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Zylah
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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Zylah » 22 Jul 2010, 02:15

I really so appreciate the support and sympathy - thank you :hug:
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Teileag » 22 Jul 2010, 13:17

I'm sorry to hear that you had to let go of Seraphina... it is hard to say good-bye to a person you love.
The sounds of the winds in the elms
like the strings of a harp being played,
the note of the blackbird that claps
with the wings of delight in the glade.

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Golden Eagle » 22 Jul 2010, 15:55

Sorry to hear the news, may she rest in peace x

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Spirit Bear » 22 Jul 2010, 21:56

I just read your message about Seraphina's passing. I am so sorry for your loss. :candle: May she rest in peace. :candle:
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“Every animal knows more than you do.”—Native American Proverb
≈✿≈ We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals ≈✿≈ ~ Immanual Kant ~

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Re: Seraphina, my hunger-strike corn snake

Postby Zylah » 23 Jul 2010, 03:47

Heike, Golden Eagle, & Spirit Bear - group hug! :hug: Thank you all.
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey


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