Sep 2009

Q: Taming a Recaputred Cornsnake?

Q: Okay, so my 6 month old corn got out about three months ago (he's now 10 months) from the cage he shared with my female of the same age. I won't go into details about how much and how hard I tried to find him, but as he is found, I need help. Before he's escape, Indran was a curious and very active corn. He would wander all over my hand, wrist, and arm. Now he lays in a coil, unless I come near his cage. As it was my younger brother who found him, I don't know if my corn had been that violent (hissing and shaking his tail) when he was caught. How do I go about retaming him?

He is currently in a seperate tank than my female, as I was afraid of him harming her. He's also over two feet long now, though he won't let me close enough to handling him long enough to accurately measure him. He has accepted one mean of frozen pinkie, and has had one shed in the two weeks I've had him back.


A: It sounds like your snake has reverted to his "wild" psychology, and you need to break him of that!  Instinct tells him when he's threatened he should lash out aggressively; if you give him space and reward his striking when he acts out you'll reinforce the behavior.  If my snakes strike at me aggressively from within the cage (mistaken feeding strikes are forgiven), they're on the end of a hook and quickly in my arms faster than they can hiss.  They may puff and strike and bite all they want, but they're not allowed back into the safety of their hides until they've calmed down.  In that way they learn to associate "good" behavior with the ends they seek.

As others have said, you're probably going to get bit a few times, and if you haven't been nailed before I know that's a little hard to accept and wrap your mind around.  Two suggestions to help you get past this: 1. With a corn snake, you may avoid the bite altogether using an open palm technique (note: this does NOT work on all species!).  When you go to handle the snake, don't approach hesitantly; instead, throw a confident open palm gently over the coiled snake's head and body.  Strikes are typically a visual threat more than anything else.  Once under and then in your hand, most snakes accept that they've been "bested," so to speak, and will stop trying to bite.  2.  If you have one of the outlier animals that insists on striking and biting while in your hands (like my water python, "Honey"), do yourself a favor and DON'T WATCH.  Manipulate the snake in your hands without looking at it.  It forces you to become more "in tune" with the animal in a tactile sense, and it calms your nerves so that you can handle him confidently, a security your snake will undoubtedly feel, which will ll help him calm down too!  You're likely to feel some weird tugging sensations, kind of like being pinched with coarse sand paper.  Guess what dude -- you just got bit and didn't even know it.  Now keep handling until he shapes up.  Good luck! - BJW



Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=9088
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Q: What to do with baby quail (frozen)?

Q: I had picked these up originally in an attempt to try to get my Mojave Ball Python to eat as she was yet to eat for me at that time. The quail ended up not working and now I have all these quail left and not sure what to do with them. All of my ball pythons are much too big for them now with exception of the Mojave who wants no part of them. However she seems to love Rat fuzzies, so atleast she is eating now despite them being small for her, so I just feed her more of them, but again atleast she is finally eating! But now back to the quail...what to do with them?

I also own a Rosy Boa, Kenyan Sand Boas and soon possibly my first Corn Snake. Will any of those species take to quail? And more importantly, will it be good for them? I also worry that they may like the quail too much and not want to go back to the mice/rats they were eating.  Another option I would have is feeding several quail in one sitting to the other Ball Pythons or Woma.

I will have no problem tossing them if none of these scenarios would work. So what do you guys think? Your feedback is greatly appreciated.


A: It doesn't hurt to keep them around.  I keep some just to occasionally mix up the diets a bit.  Remember, in the wild snakes aren't limited to a single prey item that is fed a constant, monotypic commercial diet.  I think it's good to occasionally throw something unexpected at them and give them the option of eating it.  I think you're more likely to find snakes that are reluctant to try a new food, then one who becomes instantly "addicted," especially if they've been previously established on another diet.  Good luck! - BJW


Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=8658
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Q: Female genes passed on?

Q: I have read on several sites that the female does not pass on het genes, that they have to be visual's to pass on any genes. Can any one clear this up for me???


A: Not sure what you read, but as you've written it that statement doesn't hold any water.  There are certain traits which are said to be "sex-linked," that is they're inherently related to the sex of the organism because of the trait's location on a sex chromosome... but that doesn't sound like what's being discussed here. - BJW


Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=8582
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Q: Can we make our herps sick?

Q: I know this maybe a stupid question, and some of you may laugh at me for being ignorant, but my Daughters recent illness has me thinking (not always a good thing)... I know we can catch mange, fleas, cat scratch fever, etc etc etc from cats and dogs, and a small chance of catching salamanilia (?) from our reps, but... can we give our reptiles an illness? I know if they don't have proper heat, ventilation, humidity, bad substrate, food etc etc etc they can become ill, but what about common cold, flu, strep, infections like MRSA, or stuff like that? Can they get ill from second hand smoke (BRIAN)? I work as a CNA and around some very contageous bacteria, and micro organisms and i take proper precautions not to bring them home to Kyrah, with universal precautions and stripping on my porch, although no matter what i do there is a slight chance i can pass it on. Can someone enlighten me on this? Can our reptiles be infected with a human illness? Dumb I know but I'm curious.


A: Great question -- not dumb at all -- with a lot of different elements to consider.  First, it's important to realize that not all microorganisms that we carry necessarily cause the same types of symptoms in both humans and reptiles, if they cause symptoms at all.  Salmonella bacteria, for example, are a normal part of a reptile's gastrointestinal flora, just like E. coli is a natural part of ours.  It doesn't mean that these can't cause serious harm if they end up in the wrong places.  There are definitely diseases you can bring home to your reptiles and care should be taken to avoid their introduction.  IBD and paramyxovirus are two deadly viral pathogens to reptiles (human adapted strains of the latter can cause measles, mumps, and pneumonia) that you might not even know you're carrying.  Both are strongly suspected to be transferred by fomites (e.g. contaminated clothing, dirty hands, etc) so be careful where you go and whose snakes you handle!  Reptile shows and zoos could be great places to inadvertently pick up these or other organisms like mites.  We share a lot of bacteria with our reptiles too.  Streptococcus, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas bacteria all exist fairly commensally in our (and our reptiles') guts.  If you or your reptile's immune system is compromised though, any one or a number of these can proliferate opportunistically and begin to cause problems.  Mouth rot in snakes is usually a gram-negative opportunistic infection, for example, and rarely can one know definitively where the snake picked it up.  The role of the environment cannot be ignored either.  As you said in your question, poor living conditions can cause an animal to become sick, but this is not independent of the organisms you then proceeded to list.  A staphylococcal innoculation from you to your snake might be unlikely under normal circumstances, but put that stressed, undernourished snake in an environment with poor ventilation and too much humidity and you might have created the perfect environment for Staphylococcus to grow.  See what I mean?  Humans -- animals -- the environment we share: these are the backbone of a complex web of health-related interactions, the dynamics of which we're only beginning to understand.
Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=8579

The take home message is that although reptile-associated zoonoses are few and far between, there are still a lot of potentially dangerous things we can introduce to our snakes and vice versa, so it's always best to err on the side of caution.  Care should be taken to wash hands thoroughly before and after handling, especially for children (since they love putting their hands in their mouths).  I even make a habit of using a hand sanitizer between different snakes too.  Some routine precautions may seem tiresome and unnecessary, but if they keep you and your loved -- reptiles and children alike -- safe and healhy, you'll be glad you heeded them. - BJW



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