Q: Is it okay to brumate younger male kings and corns?

Q: So I took my adult colubrids off their heat and they will be ready to be put in their cold room in a couple of days. I am excited to have three months of less work and to save a bit of money on feeders and electric bills.

I was considering putting my younger male kings and corns in brumation as well to save more on money, time and work.  I plan to keep heating and feeding my babies and yearlings, but brumating my two year old males. I don't plan to breed them because I feel that their female counterparts are not big enough to breed this season.

Is there any reason I should not put my 2 year old colubrid males in brumation? Will it cause any problems?

It would be mainly to save money on feeders, electricity and work, not to cycle them for breeding.

Let me know what you think.


A: This is a great discussion.  And as with all great questions, there's probably not just one correct answer.  To address your specific question though about safety and potential problems, Nate is right that it's pretty safe but it does come with risks.  And as Shannon said, they most certainly do it in the wild (although "overwintering mortality" is much higher in nature than in captivity).  Some snakes that won't feed post-hatching will often brumate and "wake up" feisty and ready to feed; the seasonal cycle almost seems necessary to stimulate their appetite.  Fun fact...

Anyway, yes you can overwinter them pretty safely, but occasionally you'll have an animal that won't wake up.  This can happen when brumating adults too.  Causes could include inadequate body weight, suboptimal brumation temperatures, chronic dehydration, inadequate hibernacula, other underlying stressors and disease, or some combination of all these (among probably other causes too).

If you choose to brumate, I always recommend that you install an electronic space heater that will kick on and off at pre-programable temperatures (totally worth the $40 investment!).  Be sure that your animals are of an appropriate body condition prior to brumation.  And, perhaps most importantly, be sure you fast your animals for two weeks or so -- wait to see those poops! -- before slowly bringing them to winter temperatures.

This probably is a more "natural" way to maintain our animals and you can usually brumate young animals without a problem. But Mother Nature can be a real wench sometimes so take every precaution you can! - BJW

Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=23147
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