Problematic Snake Feeding

Unfortunately, feeding any snake is not always as simple as putting a mouse in the tank to find it gone the next morning. Occasionally the snake will refuse to feed and it may be tricky to get going again. There are all sorts of feeding hints and tips; however there is always a reason why a snake is not eating. Below there is a checklist of reasons, and then solutions to the problems:

1) Unsuitable vivarium / box

2) Insufficient heat

3) No cover or hiding area

4) Unsuitable food item

5) Recently Wild Caught animal

6) Other

1) Unsuitable Vivarium / Box

Generally when a snake refuses to feed, the first thing you should consider, especially if it has been recently purchased is if the environment is correct. Is your vivarium too large? It is possible to have something too small but this is rarely the case, as snakes often prefer tighter surroundings. Many keepers are so eager to put their hatchling snake in a 3 or 4ft vivarium that they are shocked to hear that this sort of treatment can eventually lead to the death of the snake. The vivarium / box should gradually get larger as the snake grows. For a hatchling snake a tupperware box no larger than the length of the snake should be provided.

2) Insufficient Heat

All snakes should have a thermal gradient, meaning they can go to one end of the enclosure to warm up, and move to the opposite end to cool off again. If the snake is kept too warm, its metabolic rate will speed up which will generally not cause it to go off its food, but it will need more food to keep it going. If the snake is kept too cool, it may go off its food. Not only that, its metabolic rate will have slowed down causing the digestive system to function slower than usual, which may cause the snake to regurgitate any food which it may have swallowed.

3) No cover or hiding area

When keeping snakes in a tupperware box, a hiding place may not be totally necessary, especially if you have a deep layer of substrate for the snake to hide in. However, possibly the most crucial factor of keeping snakes is that they must feel secure. Whether you decide to use an ice cream tub, a cereal box or a naturalistic piece of cork bark, the snake must have an area to retreat where it feels safe.

The size of the hiding area is also important. It must be large enough to fit the snake in, with very little room for anything else. You may also use artificial plants and branches which cover a higher area in the vivarium. Some snakes may feel more secure among the leaves and branches.

If the snake refuses to feed with all these hiding places provided, it is worth placing the food in the hiding place itself, or in its entrance. The snake may feel secure, but not secure enough to venture out to feed. This technique often works with newly acquired specimens.

4) Unsuitable food item

There are many ways of offering your snake a food item. Firstly you need to figure out the size food item it needs. A rule of thumb is that the size of food offered should be no wider than the girth of the snake. If the snake refuses the food, try something smaller.

Below are some bullet points that explain different food items and your method of feeding them:

o Try offering mice and rats of varying sizes. If these fail, try chicks, gerbils, hamsters or similar sized rodents or birds.

o Many keepers believe certain snakes will only take particular coloured rodents. Try white, brown and black rodents or any other colours you can find.

o Scenting the food item with a lizard, frog, chick, fish, canned fish oil or a live mouse may stimulate its feeding response.

o Try using freshly killed mice, this will smell a lot more and should also still be warm. This method works in many cases and is worth considering.

o Try cutting the tip of the nose off the rodent to expose the flesh slightly.

o Braining is another method – this works by using a pin or a sharp knife and slicing the top of the rodent’s head, exposing the brain. For some reason brain smells real good to snakes!

o Do not touch the food item; occasionally if it smells the owner on the food, it will not go for it.

o Try heating up the rodent; put it on a heat mat for a few minutes, or dipping the head in boiling water. Be careful not to overheat the food item, as it may be so hot it will literally split the stomach, which is not pretty!

o Tease feeding is a method commonly used by many keepers; this involves a pair of long forceps or tweezers, and literally wriggling the food around in front of the snake, acting as if it was alive. If this fails, try lightly tapping the snake on the nose with the food, sometimes they appear to strike out of anger, then if it connects with the rodents head it will often coil round and constrict as a natural reaction.

o Live feeding is a method which should be the last resort. There are many keepers which are capable of getting almost any snake feeding without resorting to feeding live. However the more novice keepers may not be capable of trying all the tricks of the trade. Before resorting to feeding live, phone around a few known herpetologists and ask for help. Any herpetologist who is a member of some type of club or organization is usually more than willing to lend a helping hand. Live feeding is not a bad thing in its own right, but often a snake will take to live food and begin to refuse anything else. Unless you have easy access to live mice, this should be avoided.

5) Recently Wild Caught Animal

This could possibly be the trickiest problem to solve in terms of feeding. A wild caught snake will have been feeding on live animals all of its life. So, to take it out of its natural environment into unfamiliar surroundings and offer it a dead mouse is often just asking too much! Not only will it have only fed on live, but it will have come across almost every animal which it naturally co-habitates with, such frogs, lizards, small rodents, birds and bird eggs, plus other smaller snakes and many more potential food sources. The snake could have been feeding on a dozen or so food items throughout its life, so be sure to try as much as possible.

6) Other

Breeding season is a common time when snakes will go off their food. Males very often refuse to feed because they are thinking more about mating than anything else. This is well known with many snakes and generally starts from February through to May depending on the breeding cycle of the snake in question. Females rarely go off their food when it comes to breeding, as they need all the fat reserves to produce the eggs. It is not uncommon however for the female to stop feeding about a month or so before she lays her eggs. The reason for this is not quite clear, it could be because the eggs take up so much room in the snake’s body, it may become hard to digest and process the food. The only solution to this is to wait and keep trying, it should not last longer than 2-3 months and for a healthy snake, it will not be affected.

Stress is a big killer in snakes, and it can be bought on by many reasons. One major factor is over handling. Many owners buy a pet snake and all they want to do is play with it. This is commonplace, but the snake needs its own time just like anyone else. I suggest for a newly acquired hatchling snake it should be handled for no more than 20 minutes per day. This can be spread out into 10 minute intervals if you wish, but the less you handle it the better. As it grows older and becomes more accustomed to you; you can gradually handle it more and more. If the snake refuses to feed, the first thing you should do is to stop handling it as it just adds more stress.

Other methods for non – feeders

1) Drying the snake out – This method stimulates the snake to look for moisture which can be in a food item. Take the water bowl out for about a week and move the temperature up just a couple of degrees. After a week, soak an appropriate sized rodent in water to defrost, and offer it to the snake dripping wet. Make sure the snake is not offered the food item on a substrate such as wood chips or aspen. You should keep your snake on newspaper for this whole process. If the snake begins to look at all emaciated, place the water back in immediately. This whole process should be monitored extremely carefully.

2) If the snake is very young or small, try offering the tails of rodents, or chick legs. These are easier to swallow and may stimulate them to feed. If it will only eat these food items instead of pinky mice, you must coat them in a vitamin and calcium supplement. A good balanced vitamin supplement is Repton.

3) Try offering the food at different times of the day. Most snakes are primarily nocturnal; however they may prefer to take the food in the early hours of the morning rather than evening.

4) Place the food in different areas of the vivarium. Try up higher in a branch or underneath the hiding area. Many keepers have had success by placing a rodent in the middle of a toilet roll. The snake will feel secure in this and is a perfect hide area to safely eat its prey.

5) The temperature of the food is sometimes a stimulant. Keep the food at normal room temperature to begin with, but if this fails, place it on a radiator or something similar until the food item is hot.

6) If your snake is a hatchling, try and find a small, dark pot with a secure lid. The tubs which wax moth larvae are offered in are perfect. Place a pinkie and the snake in this tub together and then place in a warm area; but not directly on a heat source. Leave it over night and with any luck the food will have disappeared. Try also to use the braining method and placing it in the tub.

Horse Supplements – What Are They and What Are the Common Misconceptions?

Much more misconceptions are related with feeding your equines as compared to feeding many other animals. This is in part due to the deficiency of current health research information and facts coupled with a large variety of horse owners who are not familiar with the essentials of horse feeding. Dietary needs will fluctuate substantially among horses dependent on individual age, weight, and levels of activity. There are no magic health supplements, great performance feed secrets and techniques or short cuts which will change any equine into a champion. Horses naturally use fodders as the major part in their diets.. Ample forages are a simple must for standard performing of the horses digestive system. This necessity for forages is most easily furnished by pasture and hay.

Diet regime, physical exercise, breeding and care are the elements that support the equine athlete. The highest levels of overall performance in working or show horses could only be recognized when important feed and supplement requirements are attained for the equine. A horse supplement should deliver a full and well-balanced package of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and digestive aids in one carrier that is certainly required by equines in all sorts and stages of performance.

An equine supplement firm’s objective have to be to produce an economical, straightforward, smart option for the over-all physical health and nourishment of the whole horse. Customers should be expecting maximum functionality and maximum delight from their equines as well as full satisfaction, secure feeling from the products they are utilizing and the assistance supplied will be unparalleled, uncompromising professionalism, truthful and have integrity they are doing the most they can for the owner and their horses.

A lot more common myths are associated with horse feeding as compared to feeding the majority of other animals. This is simply due to the loss of current nutritional research info and also an increasing wide variety of equine owners who are not really acquainted with the concepts of equine nutrition. Dietary needs will differ drastically among horses based on individual age, body weight, and rate of activity. There are no miraculous health supplements, superior performance feed secrets or detours that will convert any horse into a champion. Horses by nature use fodders as the major part in their diets. Sufficient forages are a simple demand for normal performance of the horses digestive system. This requirement for forages is most easily provided by hay and pasture.

There are a great number of nutritional supplements on the market today. However, very few are designed, well balanced and buffered to satisfy the prerequisites of all types of horses, and many are costly and tricky to work with everyday and the horse owner just decides the horse does not have to have this health supplement when in fact they do as most of the feed stuff is highly processed, aged, rotten and missing many of its vitamins and minerals.

This strategy generates strong overall health and subsequently the whole equine demonstrates toughness, stamina, and a practically unbelievable level of resistance to parasites and disease. If the tissues are healthy, the complete horse is healthy.

Importance Of Mineral Supplements For Cattles

We have to protect animals that provide us with a living and provide the world with a safe, high quality food supply. They require a number of dietary mineral elements for normal bodily maintenance, growth, and reproduction. These requirements are based on the type, weight and age, as well as the rate of performance expected of the animal.

Mineral imbalances and/or deficiencies can result in decreased performance, decreased disease resistance and reproductive failure which results in significant economic losses.
Mineral supplements are not uniformly palatable. Other than dry matter intakes, daily water consumption and satisfying salt intakes, cattle have no known inherent ability to satisfy daily intakes of other nutrients including minerals.

Selecting the correct mineral supplement is important for maintaining healthy animals, and optimal growth and reproduction. Since high-quality forages and/or grains can furnish a large portion of the required minerals, producers should select supplements that will meet animal requirements and avoid excesses that reduce profits and lead to unnecessary mineral excretion.

Minerals essential to cattle nutrition are classified as macrominerals or microminerals, depending on whether they are found at levels greater than or less than 100 parts per million (ppm) in the animal’s body.

The macrominerals required by beef cattle include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine and sulfur. There are 10 microminerals required by beef cattle. Seven of the 10 microminerals have established requirements and include iron, manganese, copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt and iodine. The microminerals chromium, molybdenum and nickel do not have an established requirement and are not normally added to mineral mixes fed to beef cattle.

Beginning Raw Feeding – Why Feed Raw?

There are only two ways that energy enters the body. The first is breathing, the second is through eating. Since we can’t control the air we breathe, what we eat is our focus in attaining good long-term health. In all living beings, good health starts with an appropriate diet. I am a strong advocate of a healthy, species appropriate raw diet for dogs and have been feeding it for several years. I have dogs of various ages, all of whom are on a raw diet. They enjoy eating it, and their health is outstanding. Their waste is half as much, they go less often, and it’s much less to pick up. I had tried intermittently feeding kibble to my dogs, and after continuous digestive problems I went back to raw, and wondered why I ever stopped.

WHAT DO PETS EAT?

“What should dogs and cats eat?” To most people, the simple answer is “dog food,” or “cat food.” Let’s take a closer look into this, it is a notion that deserves to be questioned. How did this come about, and who exactly is telling us what is best for our pets? The processed, extruded “pet food” pellets that we are familiar with have only been around for about 55 years!

“Pet food” caught on in the early 1900’s, before that, dogs existed on whatever foods their owners chose to give them, such as scraps of meat and bones… you know, “real” food. One of the first dog foods was introduced in 1922. It was canned horse meat and scraps. During and after WWII, dry pet food took off as a way to use cheap by-products and grains as a profitable source of income to sell to consumers, who now wanted the convenience of dry pet food. In the 60’s, the now-gigantic pet food industry began a campaign to get people to stop feeding their dogs anything but packaged dog food, warning against real food like table scraps.

By that time, the first extruded pet foods were on store shelves. Extrusion is the process of cooking a mixture using pressure and steam-heat in an extruder to form a dry, hard kibble. Because these products are processed at a high temperature, heat-sensitive ingredients such as enzymes and vitamins can be damaged or destroyed. Pet food manufacturers add synthetic vitamin/mineral supplements to compensate for this deficiency. Do you eat processed junk food, then pop a multi-vitamin pill with every single meal you eat? Ideally, you (and your pet) should get your necessary vitamins from actual whole foods sources, and from varying your diet to be balanced over a certain period of time. I believe nutrition comes not from a bag or can, but from whole, real foods that I can see!

If you choose a raw diet, you will be joining a large following in the US and Europe, of pet-owners, animal nutritionists, trainers, holistic veterinarians, and breeders who have discovered the endless benefits a raw diet offers. Raw-feeders have reported everything from resolution of allergies, improved immune system, reduced stool volume, enhanced digestion, improved dental health, lean body mass, and fantastic health and vitality overall. There are certain diseases and conditions that can be eliminated, or at least improved, with a proper diet. It also provides a solution for animals who don’t tolerate grains well. In essence, we are choosing to feed a diet that does not simply provide our pet to “survive,” but to “thrive”!

DOGS, CATS, AND FERRETS ARE CARNIVORES

Look into your dog or cat’s mouth. You will find these teeth are an indication of the diet they were meant to have. Their jaws have limited lateral movement (side to site) to chew like ours do. They have fang-like canines, and teeth meant to bite, tear, and scissor flesh. Even my little Yorkshire Terrier can tear through a chicken quarter and crush the soft bones with her teeth! This action also helps clean the teeth. Kibble does not clean teeth anymore than eating hard crackers would clean your teeth. Cats and dogs also have the digestive system of a carnivore- a short small intestine and a lack of enzymes (such as salivary amylase) that break down carbohydrates.

Dogs have been reclassified scientifically as Canis Lupus Familiaris, making them a sub-species of the wolf (Canis Lupus). I would like to be clear that dogs are not wolves, and are different in many ways. However, no matter how cute and fluffy your dog may seem, his internal physiology is similar to a prey-hunting wolf. So we look to the natural diet a wolf has evolved to thrive on to give us an idea of what dogs may eat. Their digestive systems, stomach acids, and short digestive tract are suited to a carnivorous predatory diet.

But dogs and cats aren’t the only ones- I would also like to mention ferrets. Along with cats, they are “obligate carnivores”, and both thrive on a raw, grain-free diet. Ferrets require a diet that is highly digestible and rich in animal protein. Many ferret owners have transitioned to raw to meet those needs, and to replicate the natural diet their ancestors would eat, rather than feed commercial cat or ferret food, which can contain fillers, chemical preservatives, and other less desirable additives.

CHOOSING RAW?

What you feed your pet is a personal choice, and by no means is raw your only option, as every animal has individual factors or health issues that may make other diets, such as kibble or homemade cooked, a better choice. Choosing and planning a raw diet for your pet requires self education, research, and common sense. Just because it is raw does not mean it is nutritionally balanced or healthy. You have several options, which are briefly reviewed below.

PREY-MODEL DIET

Also known as the Raw Meaty Bones diet, this is a true evolutionary diet! It consists of a wide variety of meaty bones, organs, and offal included in the meal plan. Feeding whole meaty bones provides the animal a chance to eat as nature intended, using their teeth and jaws, and providing mental stimulation. RMB feeders often buy in cost-effective bulk from butchers, co-ops, or meat suppliers. This type of diet is not new, but has been further popularized by veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale, who has written comprehensive and peer-reviewed books, including “Raw Meaty Bones”.

B.A.R.F. DIET

BARF diets, short for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods” or “Bones And Raw Foods”. It consists of raw meaty bones, eggs, certain dairy products such as cottage cheese or yogurt, raw minced fruits and vegetables, some supplemental items, and occasionally some add a small amount of grains. The BARF diet was made popular by veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who attests to the health promoting benefits of an evolutionary diet. He is also the author of several books on the subject, including “Give Your Dog a Bone” (published in 1993), and several others that are essential to read before beginning this diet.

PRE-MADE FROZEN RAW DIETS

For the person seeking convenience, or just starting out with raw, commercial pre-made diets are an increasingly popular option for dogs, cats, and ferrets of all ages. They are as easy as defrost and feed! They are usually ground up, looking much like frozen hamburger. They’re available in forms such as patties, nuggets, and medallions. Some brands include meat, bones, organs, veggies, fruit, eggs, oils, and additional supplements. Look for one that is a complete balanced diet. The great thing is also the variety of proteins offered for rotation, including venison and rabbit for dogs with allergies. Some name brands include: Northwest Naturals, Nature’s Variety, Companion, Bravo, Aunt Jennies, and Primal. You can contact these companies to find a distributor in your area.

WEIGHING RISKS IN RAW DIETS

With all the options you have in feeding your pet, there are risks in each one. Considering all the past pet food recalls, I would not consider a commercial diet to be 100% risk-free by any means, and I personally feel no “safer” when feeding kibble. I feel the health benefits of a raw diet outweigh any potential risks. The two main concerns with raw diets are bacteria and bone hazards.

While food-bourne bacteria like such as e-coli and salmonella can be existent in a raw diet (these bacteria can live anywhere, including vegetables), these risks are managed and often relatively small. You drastically lower any risks by choosing fresh meat from reliable quality sources to feed your pets, and by storing it appropriately. Dogs and cats are routinely exposed to many types of bacteria and pathogens in their daily lives, and can do just fine.

Things that dogs put in their mouths would be much different for us, as their bodies are differently equipped. Remember- this is an animal that can eat feces and show no ill-effects! If your pet, or someone in your household is immune-compromised, you may take that into consideration in your choice of diets, and discuss it with your veterinarian. When handling raw meat, you take the same commons-sense precautions you take when preparing it for yourself or your family at home, including washing your hands and sterilizing surfaces the raw meat comes into contact with.

Some may be worried that their dogs can choke on raw bones. On the flip-side, dogs have also choked on kibble and rawhide chews. Ask your vet how many dogs have come in with blockages from rawhides, yet they are still widely used and sold in pet stores. However, raw bones are vital to diets, providing calcium and minerals, as well as teeth and gum benefits to the animal. Bones such as chicken bones are considered digestible. Larger bones, such as beef bones, and should be selected and sized so that the dog cannot choke on them. Common sense comes into play. Bones must be fed in the appropriate size and type for the dog, and cooked bones should NEVER be fed, as they splinter.

WHAT IF MY VET DOESN’T RECOMMEND RAW DIETS FOR PETS?

The simple answer may be to find a vet who does! There are many veterinarians worldwide, and growing, who fully support raw diets and even feed it to their own animals. Some have been recommending it to their clients for 20 plus years and have seen the benefits clinically. Many are holistic vets with extensive knowledge of nutrition. Veterinarians may be concerned that an average person could be incapable of providing adequate balanced nutrition for their animals when doing it on their own- this is why it’s essential for the pet owner to be informed and educated. Do your research and talk with other raw feeders.

There are veterinarians who choose to sell low-quality brands of kibble that contain animal by-products and high amounts of corn and other grains, rather than selling super-premium kibbles with human-grade ingredients. If they are advocating the former as the best diet choice, it calls into question how much they really know about nutrition. A pediatrician doesn’t tell you to only feed your child pre-made, fully balanced food out of a box or bag, so why should your vet tell you to do that with your pet? There will always be people who have different opinions on nutrition, and some who are simply not educated on raw diets. Regardless of others’ opinions, it is your pet’s health, and it is ultimately your decision to make.

Starting a raw diet may seem overwhelming, but the benefits are your pet’s to reap! Fortunately, there are many books available on the subject, as well as a wealth of information on the Internet. There are also message boards, and online raw-feeding groups that are there to offer you guidance and support.