Xenopeltis unicolor, anyone?

apopli

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
18
I "rescued" one of these guys from an LPS. The guy was telling me once they sold him they weren't going to be getting others because they're so difficult to care for, so I asked him to show me.

The poor thing was on top of 2" of dry substrate. That about cinched it for me and I brought the creature home.

Soaked up a fresh brick of coco fiber and got it all damp (but not dripping wet), nice big water dish, and he's now in a steralite container with about 6" of substrate, nice high humidity and a comfy 82*. He burrowed straight into it and I'll probably never see him voluntarily poke his little face out lol.

I was told when they first got him he was eating well but now he's picky and only eats every couple weeks. I'm fairly certain he'll get his appetite back with proper care. They were feeding him mostly earthworms and the occasional frog... so we'll see what we can do about that. I've also gotta keep an eye on his scales, a few don't look so great from drying up, but he's not infected so I'll leave him alone for today. I have what I need to treat him.

He MAY have a respiratory infection, but it could have just been stress (and the cold weather - it's snowing here - on the trip home, even though he was tucked in my shirt under my sweater, jacket & scarf). I'll see when I haul the poor thing out tomorrow or the day after to bathe and (possibly if he needs it) treat his scales. If it persists I can put him on a course of baytril (can you tell I've been through this sort of thing before? :rolleyes:)

Anybody keep these guys? I've read a fair bit about them, and did more reading today, but have no experience with them, and any suggestions are welcome. I know they don't like to breed in captivity and that he is w/c, but he's clean and has been in captivity for at least 6mos or more. He's close to 4 feet and a healthy weight (though a little extra certainly wouldn't hurt him).

I have no pictures, unfortunately, I didn't want to keep stressing him out today, I figure he's been through enough. I'll try to snap a couple when he's in the tub, though I promise I couldn't possibly do him justice. This is a critter you really have to see in person, their iridescence is incredible!
 

JColt

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 25, 2007
Messages
277
you may want to bump up one side of tank to around 86 and cool end around low to mid 70's and keep humidity 80% A bowl of water big enough to lay in might be useful to him now. Good luck, they are cool snakes.
 

apopli

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
18
He's got a big water dish. It's about half his length and it's square, so he could get all the way in there no problem.

I'm also thinking he might be a she considering the size (and most snakes the female is larger). But that's not terribly important to worry about at the moment.

He's in my bedroom, aka the spider room (aka where the dog doesn't go lol), which stays in the mid-high 70's on average. Since I just assembled everything (using warm water to moisten the substrate) I'll wait over the week to see what the temp decides to settle at in the enclosure and dig out a heating pad in the meantime in case. I have a larger rack he'll eventually be in that'll make it easier to have a warmer & cooler end, but since I'll have to fish him out of all that substrate every few days to keep an eye on his scales & make sure he doesn't have an RI he's in a smaller tub (about 3/4's of his body length) so the process is quicker and less stressful.

Thanks!
 

the toe cutter

Arachnobaron
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
424
If you read that care sheet it may shed some light on your snakes condition. And digging it up every week is NOT a good idea at all with this species, they stress easily and will die due to constant molestation. You basically just purchased a possibly dying pet hole. They are great pets for advanced herp keepers if they are treated for endoparasites by a DVM soon after they were brought into the country when still in relatively decent shape. They are almost exclusively fossorial in nature, only coming out to feed for short periods of time. If it was not going completely nuts while handling it, I would say you need to take it to a vet immediately. I have seen these alot in the hobby and every time I handled them, healthy specimens anyway, they exhibited extreme cases of put-me-the-F-down syndrome and flailed around desperately! And being in the environment it was in at the LPS, I would say it is more than likely going to die if not treated, and even then chances of this very sensitive animals survival are slim. So take it to the vet as soon as you can if it makes it that long and atleast get a check-up and fecal smear done. Hope this helps
 

apopli

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
18
I have been reading and did read the care sheet, yes. I don't WANT to keep digging him up, it's not like that, but do need to check on him in the next couple days to make sure he doesn't have an RI (I honestly don't think he does, he let out one tiny sneeze when he poked his head into the bone dry substrate at the shop, but I still want to check) and that his scales aren't in danger of infection. He was seen by a vet when the store got him and he's parasite-free, the issues that have come up were from poor husbandry, they assumed it was like a corn snake. Once he goes ahead a defecates a fecal will be run. I was a vet tech (and worked a fair bit with herp rescue situations), so no worries there, I have access to required medical care.

I read they weren't big on handling. I had assumed, seeing as they like staying buried, and he was obviously stressing being in the open, but it's good to know from experience. If he flails around and loses his ever loving mind, all the better. I can put him in the big rack and get on with enjoy my pet hole! lol
 

the toe cutter

Arachnobaron
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
424
Atleast it went to a seemingly capable person, glad to hear that anyway. I would get a fecal smear anyway with the check-up anyway just to make sure. I have bought plenty of reptiles from breeders, importers, wholesalers, LPS, and quite a few online well known pet stores and have been lied to quite often about parasite treatments. So NEVER take anyones word for it! It is extremely aggravating to get an animal you have wanted for a while and have it guaranteed by a national pet store, recognized in Reptiles Magazine even, and have it get sick a month later just to find out it is HEAVILY parasitised and probably going to die! It is quite common in the hobby, so don't fall for it. I always get a fecal smear with all of my herps, CB and WC, upon the first vet visit and have another scheduled a month later just to be sure. Once you get to know a vet, especially one that specializes in reptiles, they usually will start to help you out for relatively low cost. Better to be safe than sorry! Good luck with them, they are an extremely old, evolutionarily speaking, species and are extremely interesting animals. They are primitive snakes, pre-cursors to most of todays snakes, and still have the enlarged left lung instead of the right lung being enlarged.
 

apopli

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
18
He went ahead and defecated at some point last night/this morning, so we'll know for sure soon.

When I opened the lid this morning to change his water he popped his head out quick enough to startle me, then came out of his hole, went across the top of the substrate and back down another hole. Gave me a good look at those scales without having to bother him (guess I won't have to dig him out after all) and they look great, I'm hoping next shed all is normal.

Haven't heard any wheezing or sneezing or seen any other signs of RI since, so I'm not terribly worried about that anymore either. Another point we'll know for sure on soon.

Out of curiosity... would his coming out like that when I opened the tank be a sign he's checking for food? My other snakes often checked out what was going on whether they were hungry or not, but seeing as it sounds like they're naturally somewhat skittish about being above ground it seems to make sense. He last ate about a week and a half ago, so I doubt he's starving, but it would be nice if all it took was a nice warm humid tank and decent care to get ye olde metabolism going and I can see that lightening strike & swallow I kept reading about! It'd be another good sign I'm not doing too bad. heh.

That's pretty wild how primitive they are! I don't think I'd ever actively seek another of this species. I just couldn't leave him in the condition he was in with the knowledge of them I did have. This is why I typically avoid pet stores :rolleyes:
 
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the toe cutter

Arachnobaron
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
424
If he is coming out during daylight, I would assume he is probably hungry. They do take F/T mice with little to no hesitation, so I would thaw one out and toss it in there with him on a flat surface not on the substrate. Let him eat naturally like that at first, before you start feeding him in a separate container. They eat pretty quick. And don't be worried if you have to leave the mouse in there for a few hours, they do eat carrion, and it may take him a little while to get out and about again. He should eat about every week anyway so it shouldn't be much of an issue. I hope he does a little better for ya!
 
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