View Full Version : Damn...I should have bought the Milksnake instead

01-04-2006, 06:52 AM
I haven't owned a reptile in about 7 years, and decided to get back into the hobby. I bought a juvenile hognose at a local reptile show. It was a toss up between that or an apricot pueblan milksnake. I went with the hognose, but now i'm regretting it. It stopped eating. From reading other posts on this forum, i've gathered that its a common problem with this captive species. I've kept kingsnakes and ball pythons in the past, and have never had a feeding problem. Oh well, live and learn i suppose. I hope it starts eating.

01-04-2006, 08:48 AM
Before you start lamenting your decision, you should step back and take a good look at how you are keeping it...is everything right? temperatures, light cycles, sufficient cover? Is it CB or WC? Has it eaten since you've had it? Did it eat for the person you bought it from (do you know what?).

How long have you had the snake? As I'm sure you know, even juveniles can go months without eating and still bounce back.

Oh - what kind of hognose is it?

01-05-2006, 02:44 AM
TEMPERATURE: not sure, standard under tank pad on 24 hours a day, under about 2 inches of walnut shell substrate.
LIGHT CYCLES: gets daily sunlight.
CP OR WC: captive bred
HAS IT EATEN? yes, twice. pinky mice.
WHAT KIND OF HOGNOSE IS IT? female western

01-05-2006, 05:49 AM
ok. what size tank is the snake in, what are the dimensions of the UTH, and what is the room temperature. Has it defecated recently? How long has it been since it took a meal? Could the snake be shedding? How much are you handling it? I haven't worked alot with hognoses, and it has been years since I've had one in my care, so my efforts are based on the generic "My snake won't eat" dialogue. I'm not familiar with the walnut shell substrate you mentioned...how fine are the pieces? I ask for two reasons: a) the ever present concern over particle ingestion and b) the heat transfer through two inches of media.

Clay Davenport
01-05-2006, 06:11 AM
First of all, you've only had the snake a month and you said it has eaten twice. I would say it's a little premature to say it's stopped eating. Unless of course you fed it twice in the first few days and it hasn't eaten since.
In my experience westerns are not prone to going off feed for any length of time. My males occasionally stop eating for a month or so at random times, but my females pretty much never refuse a meal without an obvious reason, like being opaque, and normally not even then.
Hatchlings can be a little trouble to get going at first, but after that they are generally no problem at all.

The first thing I would do is verify the environmental conditions. I haven't used walnut shell either, but Harald might be on the right track with heat transfer through two inches of particulate substrate. It's easy to get a cage a little too cool this time of year and that can easily put a colubrid off feed.

Beyond that just make sure it is secure, provide a hiding spot and keep handling to a minimum for a while.
If it still refuses food, offer it a live pink or fuzzy and see if that works.
I do doubt that this will be a long term problem. There are exceptions of course, but westerns will almost always do just fine for a keeper.

01-05-2006, 06:12 AM
Ok, the tank is a 30 gallon. Give or take. Its definately bigger than a 20 gal fish tank. There has been feces in the tank recently. Yesturday i realized that it was starting to shed, and tonight i looked in the tank to find the shedding completed. Maybe thats why she didn't have an appettite. I don't know. Hopefully. The last time she ate was 7 days ago, and i attempted to feed her 2 days ago. I figured i'd try a pinky every 5 days. Maybe that was too much. Maybe one pinky every 7 days is best. I was told when they were young to feed them a little more often.

The ground walnut shells are really good. I've used them in the past w/my bearded dragon. Its called Desert Blend Reptile Litter by ESU Reptile. The grains are bigger than sand, yet are small enough to fall through the holes of a kitty litter scoop. According to the back of the bag, if digested by accident, they go through the digestive track without problems. Probably because its organic.

I've handled the snake 5-10 min a day. I'm always very delicate and slow with my movements. I don't want to stress it out. I've never had a snake this young before.

About the 2 inches of substrate, i see your point. I thought about that also, but i felt the hot side of the tank with my hand, and it seemed right. Plus, it likes to burrow, so if it wanted to, it could burrow to the bottom, closer to the heat source. I don't know. I should get a thermometer just to be sure.

I'll attempt another feeding this coming monday. Wish me luck. Thanks for your replies. I appreciate the input. I'll take any advice i can get.

01-05-2006, 06:21 AM
I took out some substrate. Now the snake has one inch to burrow, and can be completely covered up if it desires.

01-05-2006, 06:31 AM
I think you will find that the shed was the reason the snake wasn't eating. Many snakes will not eat during the process, sometimes even before there are clear (to us) signs.

Clay Davenport
01-05-2006, 06:40 AM
Yep, most likely the shed was the problem with the appetite.
As for the walnut shell, I've seen the stuff and I just can't go along with the manufacturer's claim that it will pass through the digestive tract without problems.
It's organic, but it's wood basically, not particularly digestable. It's also hard and has rough edges. I just can't see there not being the potential for internal damage if it is ingested. The particle size increases the chances of ingestion as compared to some other wood substrates.
I'd just be careful with it and take precautions against the snake eating any. Better to be safe than sorry.
I've found that hogs do well on aspen too. It packs well and will hold a tunnel as they burrow.

Karen Hulvey
01-05-2006, 09:37 PM
I would feed it in a small container, one without substrate. I use the desert blend too, but I won't feed my animals on it. It sticks to the mice and I don't want my snakes eating it.