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Snake problems?

Allthingsterrarium

Active Member
3 Year Member
Hey guys! So I have a quick question for fellow snake keepers and I'm sure it's a very common problem. Cinder, my still new gray banded kingsnake who I got in May 2019 hasn't eaten in a few weeks despite my best efforts. The only information I could find about how long kingsnakes can go without eating was for the California kingsnake which can apparently go about 6 months. I think it's safe to assume the gray banded is similar so we have time yet and by and large she's perfectly healthy as far as I can tell. She's just refusing food. She's not in pre shed mode and even if she was she would have done it by now. I would guess it has something to do with the cold Wisconsin weather this time of year which at least substantially reduces my bearded dragon's and pacman frog's appetites even with their heating. I gave her a strong heating pad for her tank and she has a good light, still isn't eating. I removed her main cave which is on the cool side for a night which forced her to stay on the warm side. Still not eating. Tomorrow I'll try rearranging her tank a bit and putting her cave on the warm side but at this rate I don't think it will do much. She used to have a very good appetite and then bam she's coming out to investigate dinner and turning up her nose at it. Surprisingly she ate her most recent meal without me even jiggling it for her and not caring it was dead. The breeder I got her from was an excellent, trustworthy person that really loved all of his snakes and he said that she had eaten adult mice, which I assume were always thawed because that's what I've feeding her with no problem. I know giving a snake a live mouse isn't preferable and not only could many of us find it difficult to stomach doing but if she's not hungry the mouse could nibble on her eyes or other soft parts and cause an infection so that is an absolute last resort I'd rather not turn to even though if push comes to shove I'll do whatever I have to for her. I have considered getting some feeder anoles which I know won't nibble on her and interestingly enough I heard that gray bands eat a lot of lizards in the wild and young ones can be difficult to wean onto mice and sometimes even need to be fed mice covered with lizard scent. I heard about rubbing the thawed mouse on the cloaca of a lizard to scent it. I suppose I could use some of my bearded dragon's scent but Cinder was 3 years old already when I got her so I bet she's been raised on mice from the beginning and had no contact with lizard scent and shouldn't have to be reintroduced to mice. Gross as this will sound to you I've even tried using my pocket knife to cut into the mouse which I promise you was dead in order to create some fresh scent for her to catch on to. It grabbed her interest but she still didn't eat it. The only other thing I can think of is giving her a very, very freshly dead mouse. Any ideas? I know this is a common issue.
 

Enn49

Moderator
Staff member
1,000+ Post Club
3 Year Member
Tarantula Club Member
Many snakes will fast at this time of year so don't worry as long as it's not visibly losing weight it will be fine. I'd just leave the tank alone and let her settle.
Don't change what she normally feeds on just make sure that it's good and warm before offering it and she'll eat when she's ready. Not all snakes will strike feed so you could try leaving the mouse in with her for a few hours, even overnight.
To set your mind at rest I had a Western Hognose that fasted for 9 months and was fine.
 

Allthingsterrarium

Active Member
3 Year Member
Many snakes will fast at this time of year so don't worry as long as it's not visibly losing weight it will be fine. I'd just leave the tank alone and let her settle.
Don't change what she normally feeds on just make sure that it's good and warm before offering it and she'll eat when she's ready. Not all snakes will strike feed so you could try leaving the mouse in with her for a few hours, even overnight.
To set your mind at rest I had a Western Hognose that fasted for 9 months and was fine.
Thanks Enn49! That's good to know. Semi brumation was what I was starting to expect anyway and I'm relieved to hear they can go a lot longer than I thought without food and otherwise she's a picture of health. I'll go ahead and put her cave on the warm side and then maybe either give her a week to build up an appetite or wait until she's out and about and then leave some food in there for a day or so.
 

Enn49

Moderator
Staff member
1,000+ Post Club
3 Year Member
Tarantula Club Member
Thanks Enn49! That's good to know. Semi brumation was what I was starting to expect anyway and I'm relieved to hear they can go a lot longer than I thought without food and otherwise she's a picture of health. I'll go ahead and put her cave on the warm side and then maybe either give her a week to build up an appetite or wait until she's out and about and then leave some food in there for a day or so.
You may find leaving food overnight is long enough otherwise it will start to smell.
 

Allthingsterrarium

Active Member
3 Year Member
You may find leaving food overnight is long enough otherwise it will start to smell.
That is a good point. I did make a similar mistake once before with a fuzzy mouse when my garter snake, who gets one as a monthly treat, was being picky. I learned the hard way. Eeew.
 
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