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Old 07-08-2018, 03:47 PM   #1
Nerdicine
Unhappy My Western Hognose is Worrying Me

From all that I've read and researched about hognoses, they seem to be one of the most docile snakes in the pet trade. I hadn't discovered them in person until I found a breeder at a convention with one hognose snake left. He was juvenile, seemed to be very well fed, and was actively trying to dig and burrow in the little cup he was put in for display. He was healthy enough to spend the money on, and ever since I've had nothing but trouble. All he does it go through binging and starving periods. He bluffs and hisses at his food and won't eat it unless it's at the crack of dawn. He's escaped before because I didn't have locks on my sliding lid (which was my own mistake) and he pushed it off by putting the turned up scale on his nose into the screen and shoving it aside. He's dug through the screen with his nose and has left giant holes in it (but we find them now and fix them before he can eacape). He sits on top of the thermometer and wraps his tail around it and picks at the screen when nobody's watching him. When he wants out he refuses to be picked up. He has to crawl out on his own otherwise he hisses and bluffs and plays dead if you put your hand in, OR he bites because he automatically assumes anything that goes in his enclosure is food. He's perfectly docile once he comes out of his terrarium and will burrow into your body and doesn't mind to be picked up whatsoever. He'll even come towards you and burrow in your lap.

He's obviously unhappy and wants to escape. My boyfriend and I were debating on what is making him so miserable. He's in a 30 gallon breeder (which some say is too big), but we don't think that's the entire problem. We also live on a second floor apartment where there's a lot of walking upstairs and air conditioners blasting and people yelling. I know they're very sensitive to vibrations. We're moving into a quiet rural house in a couple weeks and are thinking this might solve some of his behavioral problems.

I just worry about him because he seems stressed out and won't eat half the time he's offered. He doesn't look much skinnier but he's growing longer and I'm worried it's just not enough for him. I also am sick of him biting me. Every time he does he won't let go and I worry it's just making him worse. But if I don't handle him at all he gets scared of me and strikes at the glass every time I walk by his tank and plays dead which makes it even worse for him, so at least if he bites me and gets over it he's not so terrified. He's finally starting to learn I'm not a threat but he still hates his territory being encroached upon.

If anyone has any suggestions, or thinks he'll get better when we move, let me know. I'm hoping he'll start eating normally. He still won't take adult mice and when I try to feed him adults he goes on a fast for over a month. He only eats fuzzies and he won't eat more than one every two weeks. It's not enough. He used to eat one twice a week and that's when he was much smaller. I'm worried about him. If there's anything I'm doing wrong or anything I can fix I'd appreciate any advice anybody has for me.
 
Old 07-08-2018, 08:29 PM   #2
kalel5011
That's a lot to digest. Sorry you're having worries. The number one thing I would change immediately is def his enclosure. I feel like 30 is waaaay to big for a juvie male, even an adult male.

Don't worry too much if he goes without eating for too long. Mine will go through periods where he won't eat for about a month or maybe one pinkie for three weeks or longer. Do you leave him alone for 48 hours after eating? Also are you feeding in a separate area?

Can you provide pics of his enclosure with him in it and him in your hands?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerdicine View Post
From all that I've read and researched about hognoses, they seem to be one of the most docile snakes in the pet trade. I hadn't discovered them in person until I found a breeder at a convention with one hognose snake left. He was juvenile, seemed to be very well fed, and was actively trying to dig and burrow in the little cup he was put in for display. He was healthy enough to spend the money on, and ever since I've had nothing but trouble. All he does it go through binging and starving periods. He bluffs and hisses at his food and won't eat it unless it's at the crack of dawn. He's escaped before because I didn't have locks on my sliding lid (which was my own mistake) and he pushed it off by putting the turned up scale on his nose into the screen and shoving it aside. He's dug through the screen with his nose and has left giant holes in it (but we find them now and fix them before he can eacape). He sits on top of the thermometer and wraps his tail around it and picks at the screen when nobody's watching him. When he wants out he refuses to be picked up. He has to crawl out on his own otherwise he hisses and bluffs and plays dead if you put your hand in, OR he bites because he automatically assumes anything that goes in his enclosure is food. He's perfectly docile once he comes out of his terrarium and will burrow into your body and doesn't mind to be picked up whatsoever. He'll even come towards you and burrow in your lap.

He's obviously unhappy and wants to escape. My boyfriend and I were debating on what is making him so miserable. He's in a 30 gallon breeder (which some say is too big), but we don't think that's the entire problem. We also live on a second floor apartment where there's a lot of walking upstairs and air conditioners blasting and people yelling. I know they're very sensitive to vibrations. We're moving into a quiet rural house in a couple weeks and are thinking this might solve some of his behavioral problems.

I just worry about him because he seems stressed out and won't eat half the time he's offered. He doesn't look much skinnier but he's growing longer and I'm worried it's just not enough for him. I also am sick of him biting me. Every time he does he won't let go and I worry it's just making him worse. But if I don't handle him at all he gets scared of me and strikes at the glass every time I walk by his tank and plays dead which makes it even worse for him, so at least if he bites me and gets over it he's not so terrified. He's finally starting to learn I'm not a threat but he still hates his territory being encroached upon.

If anyone has any suggestions, or thinks he'll get better when we move, let me know. I'm hoping he'll start eating normally. He still won't take adult mice and when I try to feed him adults he goes on a fast for over a month. He only eats fuzzies and he won't eat more than one every two weeks. It's not enough. He used to eat one twice a week and that's when he was much smaller. I'm worried about him. If there's anything I'm doing wrong or anything I can fix I'd appreciate any advice anybody has for me.
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:05 PM   #3
elena
Two things.

30g is way to large for a juvenile hog. He will feel more secure in a much smaller enclosure.

You didn't mention any weights. The best way to tell if he's eating enough is monthly weighing. How much did he weigh when you got him, how long have you had him, and what does he weigh now? If you don't already have one, get a scale and weigh him every month. If he continues to gain weight, he isn't underfed.
 
Old 07-08-2018, 11:48 PM   #4
bcr229
A lot of this is normal hoggie "drama noodle" behavior. Mine acts the same way in many cases.

I'm going to third the suggestion of changing to a new enclosure, especially since your hognose has figured out he can rip the mesh and escape, he will keep doing it.

I run mine in racks/tubs, but you can use just one tub as long as it has a secure, tight-fitting lid. Put in 1-2 inches of aspen shavings, a heat pad on a thermostat under one side, and a water bowl. He'll burrow under the aspen and play excavator.

When you handle him I'd suggest rubbing a bit of lemon scent hand sanitizer or a few drops of white vinegar on your hands. The sharp smell will turn off his food response, so he shouldn't mistake your pinky finger for a mouse pinky any more.
 
Old 07-09-2018, 04:36 PM   #5
elena
Great advice from Melinda.
 
Old 07-09-2018, 09:08 PM   #6
Socratic Monologue
All great advice here so far.

I have an adult male hog that was a bit like this -- well, the hissing and refusing food for periods of time, then finally getting hungry and eating well for a while. He's been doing better since I figured out that he really prefers prekilled prey (rather than the frozen thawed that is usually my default food). He's a much more reliable eater on freshly prekilled, and is much less likely to turn up his nose (so to speak...) at food and then get hungry and crabby. I suspect that if yours eats more, he'll stop the in-cage biting of your hand.

Also, though hognose people might have a different opinion, I wouldn't feed an adult mouse to my male. That's simply too big a prey item, especially if he's not a really reliable feeder. I don't see any problem with filling him up with multiple fuzzies or hoppers.
 

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