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 My collection is on lock down

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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: My collection is on lock down   Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:51 pm

I really don't know what to do here. In August, I moved to a new apartment. That month, one of my male corn snakes died unexpectedly. We have no idea how old he was as we bought him as an adult in 2008 from a pet store.

In September we lost a 2011 normal female that we hatched out. I figured this wasn't that surprising because of what happened to that clutch. Around day 36, the egg box was pulled out of the incubator. One egg died from a ruptured umbilicus. He bled out in the egg. Another egg actually split open. I was able to repair the tear by supergluing some plastic wrap over the hole (I have pictures of this if anyone is interested in seeing it. It worked amazingly). She hatched just fine and was eating. Then one day I went in and found her deceased.

In October I had a 2011 female spinner. Her and her clutchmates were not eating. They had not eaten in a month so I decided to assist feed them (just put the pinky mouse in their mouth. All of her clutchmates did fine and ate (and are still alive and well, with the exception of two that still won't eat) After the assist feeding she passed away. She hatched out small (under 50g) so I figured she was just a failure to thrive baby or she was too stressed from the assist feed.

Since then, everything has been fine. The snakes have been eating (with the exception of 3 2011 hatchlings that won't eat on their own. I was breeding one pair of snakes, a normal female and a normal 100% het pied male. He was breeding well with her (locking up every single time I put him in with her). His last feeding was on December 24th and his last weigh in was 830g. (He is a 2007 and very small for his age because he was such a trouble feeder. Over the past year he has doubled in size) He did not look malnourished and showed no signs of illness. On February 4th, we found him deceased.

I'm not sure what to make of this. I don't have the money for a necropsy, but I'm wondering if I should be worried. I am already but does anyone think there could actually be something wrong in my collection. At the moment, everyone is eating (again with the exception of the 3 hatchlings and one adult male pastel who has been off feed since late November. He has lost only 10g.) There are no signs of illness. Temperatures are around 90 (it fluctuates between 88-90, with the room temp being 75. I can't make the room temp warmer at this time because I also house my ferrets in the same room and they overheat easily). Everyone has access to fresh water, is housed on Aspen bedding, no signs of mites or illness.

The only thing that is different with my collection is that I added two carpet pythons. They are currently in QT and I'm very careful with that. The carpets appear healthy and are eating well.

For now, my collection is on lock down and I'm not breeding any of my snakes. It sucks because I have two females ready to go but I'm terrified of pairing my snakes and have another snake die. Not a single snake appears unhealthy. All have good weight. I can't imagine why he died. The only thing I can think of is maybe he had some kind of genetic problem. He's only ever fathered one clutch of 6 eggs. 4 of those eggs died during incubation. One baby went full term but died in the egg shortly before hatching. It had major deformities and would not have survived outside the egg. The one that did hatch had several kinks and died 3 months later because it could not physically swallow prey items.

I'm just not sure what to do at this point. Should I worry there is something going on with my collection or are these isolated deaths that are not related? I just don't know.
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jw
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:22 pm

Sorry to learn of this.

Years ago, I remember hearing that the VA Dept. of Agriculture would preform necropsies on reptiles for low or no cost. It actually, sounds too good to be true, but maybe worth a call or email.
http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/consumer/index.shtml
http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/animals/questions.shtml

I hope things work-out for the best.
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smd58
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:49 pm

I agree with jw, necropsies is the way to find out for sure.
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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:02 pm

I've heard that once you freeze an animal, a necropsy won't do much good. He's been in a chest freezer since the 4th.
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smd58
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:41 pm

thats what Ive been told also.
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Lokielani
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:17 pm

I would still try to necropsy them, I have rats in the freezer for months and still necropsy them, if they died and were immediately frozen their organs should be intact enough to tell (it will be smelly and gross though). Do you think it could have been stress from the move/being in new conditions?
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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:03 pm

No, he was eating normally after the move. He's always been a picky eater. Last year he wanted to breed and stopped eating for months. He got really skinny and was under 500g (he's a 2007). I didn't allow him to breed and he finally began eating normally and was eating well, and gained a bunch of weight. He was up to 830g empty in December. His last meal was December 24th, which was just a little more than a month. He was breeding readily so I just figured he stopped eating due to that.

Here is the last picture I took of him.



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Stray
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:52 pm

Have you considered Crypto? It's almost completely unnoticeable for a long incubation period, and there is almost nothing to prevent or cure it. The only solution is to quarantine the collection and clean all of the tanks/tubs/habitats of the diseased with some pretty intense cleaners.

http://www.addl.purdue.edu/newsletters/1996/summer/snakes.shtml
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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:06 pm

It mentions one of the symptoms is regurgitation due to gastric swelling. He did not regurgitate and had a pretty good appetite prior to his fast when he began breeding. None of the other snakes are regurgitating or show any signs of illness. I'm going to keep an eye on them for now. I'll be taking my cat in for a vet visit soon so I'm going to speak to the vet about possibly doing fecals on all of the snakes just to rule out internal parasites.

Does anyone know how much vets usually charge for a single fecal?
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Jabberwocky Dragons
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:13 pm

I believe the fecal itself is about $20 at most places but most vets won't do a fecal unless it's part of an office exam. Fecals are very easy to do and I'd recommend getting a cheap microscope (~$120) and the needed supplies and doing them yourself. It works out to about $1/fecal in supplies. It's much more cost effective in the end.
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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:19 pm

How would I go about learning to do my own fecals? I would love to be able to do that for myself. I'll have to begin looking for a microscope.
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jw
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:34 pm

To augment Brian suggestion The inexpensive ($6) book "Understanding Reptile Parasites" by Roger J. Klingenberg makes a good starting point.

Decades ago, my collection of kings and corns became infected with cryptosporidium. Over a couple of years, I watched as my snakes became emaciated and died. Regurgitation was a MAJOR symptom durning my experience with crypto.

I'm glad that you are doing the responsible thing and placing your collection in lock down. However, without diagnostic testing it will be difficult to know when (or if) your collection is truly "clean".
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:38 pm

That sounds like a good book. I'll have to look into picking that one up myself.

Regarding the microscope, I have this one: Celestron 44104 and its perfect. It's $137 shipped on Amazon. It's actually a little more powerful than what's strictly needed for fecals but it's high quality and not much more expensive than a flimsy low power one.
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:45 pm

I agree with JW. You won't know if or when your collection is clean unless you start testing. It cost money, but is part of ownership of these animals.
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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:51 pm

None of the snakes are losing weight (all gaining weight) except my pastel male and he's only lost 10g since November. I think it is just seasonal for him because he was breeding around this time last season. Not a single regurgitated meal, either. But getting some fecals done will at least help put my mind at ease its not parasitic.

With my husband the nerd that he is, I have no doubt he'll be excited about getting a microscope. I will try to find the book and try to find some directions online about how to do a fecal.

When I see the vet for my cat, I'll ask them about my snakes and see if they have any idea what it could be. With all of the snakes gaining weight normally I don't think its parasitic. I want to have them checked for RIs but I haven't heard a single wheeze and I haven't seen any mucus.
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:43 am

Not sure what the pricing on fecals is, but I don't think it's horribly expensive. I know it's under $50 most places.

Fecals do seem like a very good idea, to determine which, if any, of the survivors are infected. Most vets can't do much unless they have concrete evidence of the infection/disease in front of them, so just contacting one with symptoms probably won't get much accomplished.

In any case, it sounds like quarantine is the best thing you can do in the meantime, with careful monitoring of everything (which it seems like you are already doing).

Whatever the diagnosis, and however you approach it, I am sorry to hear that you're suffering such losses. I hope you're able to figure out the culprit and keep your remaining snakes safe. :c
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ClarkeReptiles
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PostSubject: Re: My collection is on lock down   Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:05 am

Under $50 may seem inexpensive when you are talking about one snake, but I have just under 30 snakes in my collection. That would be close to $700 or more for just one round of fecals. It would be best if I learned to do it myself. And I know a vet can't do anything just by me telling them what happened (prescribe medication or make a diagnosis) but the vet can at least give me an opinion on what it COULD be.

They are all being watched carefully. I check on them 1-2x per day and normally I'd only do the "big clean" once a week, but now I'm doing it once a week.

Thank you all for your advice. I'll keep you updated.
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