Captive snakes and obesity

LeilaNami

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I was able to take home some dissected captive snakes the other day. My mentor, Jason and I were astounded at the ridiculous amounts of fat in these snakes. You had to dig around a bit to find the organs. This might be something for the power-feeders and even those that feed too often to think about. Certainly this obesity would have an effect on their lifespan and we have always maintained a conservative feeding schedule because of this. Wasn't sure about posting pics dissected snakes on here since a couple of them are commonly kept as pets. Just thought it was interesting enough to share.
EDIT: I also wanted to clarify that these snakes looked healthy externally from a hobbyist standpoint.
 

Dyn

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I'm very interested in knowing more about the snakes and seeing the pictures.

Feeding schedule, prey size, type of snake.
 

whitewolf

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:? Hmm well give a little graphic warning and I say let's see them. Might be nice to have them up in a few places just to show what over feeding can cause. I've learned to be a little more stingy with food because a few herpers took time to explain the difference between happy and fat. Still I'd actually like to see it from the inside. Any idea what their feeding schedules were.
 

Dyn

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Yea I usually feed my smaller snakes once week but my male retic gets a rabbit every 2-4 weeks depending on the size of the prey.
 

LeilaNami

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They are frozen at this point. We were going to build decomp boxes and put them in our compost pile since we don't have a dermestid colony. I do not know the feeding schedule offhand other than it was a typical schedule you would see in captive snakes but I will ask my mentor more details when I see him this weekend. As soon as we get the decomp boxes ready, I will take pictures before letting them rot and be eaten by whatever is in that compost. :D I do believe a chondro was one of them but I will provide all the details in bulk as soon as I get them.
 

Dyn

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Thanks.

Most likely a once every 7-10 day thing.
 

DrJ

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Not entirely sure what you mean by obesity if the snakes appeared svelte and healthy from an external point of view. You will find fat on most animals and it is not the slightest bit uncommon to find a substantial amount of fatty tissue in wild reptile specimens.

Seems you need to gather more data anyway. This would have been an interesting data-set, but since not even the basics are known...what are we to learn?

Don't think I'm putting down your enthusiasm, just pointing out the obvious. However, if you would/could, I'd also really enjoy seeing whatever pictures you could come up with. Especially if you could identify each species.

Thanks for sharing your insights so far. :)
 

LeilaNami

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Not entirely sure what you mean by obesity if the snakes appeared svelte and healthy from an external point of view. You will find fat on most animals and it is not the slightest bit uncommon to find a substantial amount of fatty tissue in wild reptile specimens.

Seems you need to gather more data anyway. This would have been an interesting data-set, but since not even the basics are known...what are we to learn?

Don't think I'm putting down your enthusiasm, just pointing out the obvious. However, if you would/could, I'd also really enjoy seeing whatever pictures you could come up with. Especially if you could identify each species.

Thanks for sharing your insights so far. :)
I will post pictures and you will see what I'm talking about. This isn't "omg he's fat" from a hobbyist standpoint. There are people in the biological department going "what the heck has this been eating?" Externally, this animal would be deemed healthy by a hobbyist standpoint. Inside, not so much. I appear healthy externally too. Inside I probably look like a war zone with the amount of sodium I intake. I am challenging what is deemed as healthy within our hobby.
 

P.jasonius

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Not entirely sure what you mean by obesity if the snakes appeared svelte and healthy from an external point of view. You will find fat on most animals and it is not the slightest bit uncommon to find a substantial amount of fatty tissue in wild reptile specimens.

Seems you need to gather more data anyway. This would have been an interesting data-set, but since not even the basics are known...what are we to learn?

Don't think I'm putting down your enthusiasm, just pointing out the obvious. However, if you would/could, I'd also really enjoy seeing whatever pictures you could come up with. Especially if you could identify each species.

Thanks for sharing your insights so far. :)
Yeah, it's not some fat, it's enough to crowd organs. Like she said, you'll see when we post pics. I really do think this will challenge the way snakes are kept/fed in captivity. It really reminded me of when I went to the "Body World" exhibit (google it) and saw cross-sections of obese people, and the organs were all squished together from excessive amounts of fat.
 

Galapoheros

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Hey that's interesting, it made me wonder if they have more fat from the fat replacing muscle(muscular atrophy), just from not having to move around much to get food like they would have to do in the wild. Maybe similar to a person looking thin but might have a high fat to muscle ratio from not moving around much.
 

DrJ

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For starters, this is an obsolete study. So, you cannot "challenge" anything going on in today's growing hobby. To get started, you need a baseline of data. Of which, you have not. Basically, don't get defensive. If you think this is a real issue, do a real study on it. I encourage you to do so.
 

pitbulllady

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I have a buddy who has a long-term captive female Cottonmouth that only eats...and no, I'm not making this up...Hebrew National hot dog weiners. She eats a pack a week, at one time, off tongs, and won't eat anything else. He's won some impressive "sucker" bets off people who insisted that they could either A)get her to eat something else, or B)get her to eat another brand of hot dog(Jewish jokes aside)and that she would not know the difference. She does, so she won't eat them. In any case, this thing no longer looks like a snake. She looks like Jabba the Hutt with scales. If any of you have ever seen a wild Cottonmouth, you know they have typically large pit viper heads, but her head looks tiny and insignigicant in comparison that body! There are more fat rolls on her than on a Sumo wrestler. I cannot help but to think of this snake, which is somehow still alive to the best of my knowledge, when this thread was started, and what a necropsy of this animal following her demise would look like.

pitbulllady
 

Dyn

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Can you get a picture of the copperhead PBL?

That sounds almost unbelievable
 

LeilaNami

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I have a buddy who has a long-term captive female Cottonmouth that only eats...and no, I'm not making this up...Hebrew National hot dog weiners. She eats a pack a week, at one time, off tongs, and won't eat anything else. He's won some impressive "sucker" bets off people who insisted that they could either A)get her to eat something else, or B)get her to eat another brand of hot dog(Jewish jokes aside)and that she would not know the difference. She does, so she won't eat them. In any case, this thing no longer looks like a snake. She looks like Jabba the Hutt with scales. If any of you have ever seen a wild Cottonmouth, you know they have typically large pit viper heads, but her head looks tiny and insignigicant in comparison that body! There are more fat rolls on her than on a Sumo wrestler. I cannot help but to think of this snake, which is somehow still alive to the best of my knowledge, when this thread was started, and what a necropsy of this animal following her demise would look like.

pitbulllady
That would be an interesting picture. Cottonmouths are already pretty heavy-bodied so a sumo-Cottonmouth is probably frightening to see. I've spoke with a herp-friend of facebook a bit and he's had an issue with a snake he sold to a friend that overfed. The thing was a blimp and only lived four years with those people before getting steatitis and dying.

Galapo: I would think that plausible. They do need to forage in the wild whereas a captive snake practically sits in the same spot all day, every day. This would indicate that either increased area for exercise or conservative feeding might be necessary to maintain health.
 

P.jasonius

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@PBL that's awful... sounds like an elephant trunk snake X cottonmouth hybrid. I don't think I could keep myself from laughing if I saw a pic/vid though {D. I'd hate myself after though :wall:
 

khil

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Hey! Yeah, try to get info on the feeding schedule these snakes were on.

Generally, I believe it is feeding every 5-6 for baby and growing snakes, and every 7-8 days for adult snakes, like colubrids. For adult huge snakes, less often. hmmm.
 

whitewolf

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Couldn't tell but looked like it just ate, but it could be fat too.
 
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