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Tommama   Ceribaby17   Reflex   Concolor1   Fairy Frog Mother   Concolor1  
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 Feeding Wild Gopher Snake

Hello - we would really be grateful if anyone could give us advice on what to do - we found a 3 1/2 Gopher snake, it is beautiful, friendly and loved - we have it in a 20 gallon w. heat pad/cold area for 5 days; on the second day it ate a pinkie, but it was handled withing 36 hours (we should have known better) and regurgitated it...we have left two more pinkies in the tank but it has shown no interest in eating...what should we do? remove the remaining live pinkies? introduce a hopper? wait a few more days ?...thanks very much for you advice. Much appreciated.

04/22/10  10:33pm


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  Message To: Tommama   In reference to Message Id: 2142720

 Feeding Wild Gopher Snake

An active gopher snake will happily eat every 10 days. They will eat, and should only be fed, killed prey. A snake who is not hungry when the live prey is introduced into the enclosure often finds itself becoming the meal, especially if the prey is a rat. To economize, buy in bulk. Contact your local herpetology society; many members breed mice and rats, and most will pre-kill them for you. Remove the prey item from the freezer and allow to defrost at room temperature. When defrosted, use forceps or tongs to pick up the rodent by the tail, and place it in the tank. Once you get to know your snake, you can hold the prey in front of the snake for the snake to strike at. Make sure you wash your hands after handling prey, or other animals, before putting your hand in the snake’s enclosure. Smell overrides all other senses when it comes to food; even if your hand does not look remotely rodent-like, it smells like one, ergo it must be one. For a change of pace, offer a quail egg. If the snake eats it, offer it one every couple of weeks in addition to its regular feeding.

04/26/10  04:31pm


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  Message To: Tommama   In reference to Message Id: 2142720

 Feeding Wild Gopher Snake

Your best bet is to release it into the wild. Captive bred gophers have great feeding responses and are very cheap animals. If you want a snake that will eat, spend the money and buy one. It is illegal in many places to take wild animals without a permit anyway.

You are going to face many more problems other than feeding. The stress of going from wild to being captive takes a toll on their health. A lot of wild animals have mites and parasites that, if you do not treat them can either take over their bodies and kill them or transfer to other snakes you may have or will get in the future.

04/26/10  08:42pm


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  Message To: Reflex   In reference to Message Id: 2143627

 Re: Feeding Wild Gopher Snake

If you’ll pop over to the "Bull, Pine, and Gopher Snake" forum and scroll down far enough, you’ll find two threads of mine dealing with a W/C gopher I picked up two years ago in a nature park about a mile south of where I live.

I’m just about to change the water in its cage right now, and I’ll be feeding it a live adult mouse as well . . . In the threads I mentioned, I described dealing with a long hunger strike by this snake, and I’ve posted pictures of it feeding after I successfully brumated it for about two months the winter before last (it continued to feed all winter this year, and as I have no breeding plans at this time, I just let it continue to feed and grow).

Removing a snake from the wild was not a decision I made lightly. This park was bordered by a subdivision; indeed it was less than 100 yards from a number of houses, and I was incredulous that it could be found in such habitat. I decided the chance of an encounter with a feral cat or raccoon (an introduced species in this part of Utah) was high enough that it would likely enjoy a longer and better life in captivity. Nothing I have seen since then has changed my mind.

I feed a mixture of live and frozen mice--in separate feeding quarters--as a matter of convenience and because I’ve also read that constricting live prey can help maintain an animal’s overall health (and possibly prevent egg-binding in females) and muscle tone. I am careful to monitor things when I "feed live."

Gopher snakes are essentially unprotected in here in Utah (I believe the same is true in California), and blanket generalizations are always suspect. I would no more remove a California king snake or a Utah milk snake from the wild than rob a bank (because of their scarcity and the appropriate legal sanctions; the same would be true of a chuckwalla in Southern Utah) but gopher snakes are plentiful. There’s another post over there of a snake I caught-and-released after photographing it; I found that snake within fifteen minutes of parking my car, but since it was in an area a long ways from civilization, I left it there.

I am a huge advocate of the "feed them in separate quarters" school in the case of Pituophis sp. They have a healthy feeding response when hungry (I currently have three, two gophers and big "Texas Bull"), and I’ve been nailed when I’ve been careless and opened their cage after handling feeder mice. I put the mouse in the big plastic bin and then add the snake, and if I’m "feeding a second one," I’m careful.

"Pits" are notorious for hunger strikes, BTW, but right now if you choose to keep the snake, I’d let it settle in for a week or so after the regurge and then try a larger prey item; a snake that size can easily handle a newly weaned mouse or possibly even something larger. There are other suggestions over on the "Bull. Pine, and Gopher" forum as well...

Good luck . . .

04/28/10  03:30am


Fairy Frog Mother
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  Message To: Concolor1   In reference to Message Id: 2143895

 Re: Feeding Wild Gopher Snake

Ok no one has addressed this yet, so I will
The snake regurged. This means it was stressed. You are taking a wild caught animal and forcing it to live in a tank, then fed it right away. That is most likely what caused the regurgitation.

You need to leave it alone for a week, except to change water. After 7 days you can then feed it a small prey item. (Just slightly smaller than the snake is around) Once it is eating and digesting properly for a month or so, then you can move up in size to the same size the snake is around. It should only be fed ONE prey item at a time.

Now, my personal belif is that wild snakes should be left wild. Not only do they keep down populations of wild rodents, they often have parasites which a healthy wild snake generally can tolerate, but when under stress (as mentioned above) can cause major health issues for it. Some are even contageous to people (Like Pinworms)

Of course, its your choice if you want to keep it or release it back into its habitat. Good luck either way.

04/28/10  03:19pm


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  Message To: Fairy Frog Mother   In reference to Message Id: 2144035

 Sigh . . .

Internet rumors abound, and you should see the number of my e-buddies who are reluctant to forward stuff to me anymore because Google has made me a total pain-in-the-patooter on fact-checking dubious claims . . . I blame it on living in Utah; never mind the original gold-and-the-angel stuff (way too hot button), the multi-level marketers are selling everything from pills and fruit juices that cure warts, cancer, psoriasis, and restore virility as well as baldness remedies and energy drinks that will enable one to run marathons at age eighty...

Anyway, reptile-to-human transmission of parasites is most uncommon (now if you want to bring up bacteria like salmonella, you’ve got a solid factual argument. Unfortunately, rodents can be a source of salmonella as well as herps such as turtles and water dragons). Which is why there are several bottles of liquid antibacterial soap on hand in my place at all times...

Pinworms, of the variety most of us had as kids--my pediatrician told my mother not to worry; "It just meant her kids had friends"--are specific to homo sapiens. And there are a variety of effective cures available.



Animals do not harbor pinworms - humans are the only natural host for this parasite.

Now if some people want to do more to help wild animal populations, I suggest they push for stricter controls of feral and introduced species, including dogs and house cats as well as the raccoons noted and hogs that have overrun some parts for centuries. That also includes all those Burmese Pythons that now number in the thousands in the Everglades...

Too, I’d suggest recalling that idiot governor from Texas who was bragging yesterday about knocking off a coyote with a laser-sighted pistol (mighty sporting there, Guv!). He claimed he was carrying the pistol because he was afraid of snakes... Same guy who claimed Texas had the right to secede from the rest of the United States if they wished to...

BTW, in the last eight years I’ve kept snakes, I’ve never had a regurge, and that W/C gopher (okay, it was a juvenile when I caught it) seemed to thoroughly enjoy crawling around my neck, shoulders and hair while I was changing its water last night (as well as filling the food dishes in the mouse cages). And right now it appears to be contentedly digesting its food in its cage in plain site even though a hide is available.

04/28/10  05:23pm

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