What’s for dinner?

What’s for dinner?!

Chicken! And a few other things 😉
We like to offer variety to the Snake Haus residents. That means we rotate through rats, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.

Did you know? Different species of snakes have different nutritional requirements. Let’s compare some of them.

Carpet pythons have a faster metabolism than boas and an ability to eat much larger food than you would expect for their size. Be careful though because they are less active in captivity than in the wild so can still become obese if not given the opportunity to exercise and climb. In their native habitat some of them must often travel long distances to find food. That has given the carpet pythons a higher prey drive and more active hunting style than boas. We sometimes vary our carpets feeding schedule based on the type and size of their last meal.

Boas are very much ambush predators which means they lie still and wait for food to come to them. That has given them a slower metabolism which means they need lower fat foods. We feed our boas smaller rat sizes (small – large), rabbits, or the occasional chicken. Jumbo rats are much higher in fat than smaller rats so we switch boas to rabbits early on so we can avoid feeding the larger rat sizes.

But there’s differencees amongst the types of boas too! The really big girls can handle larger food items but then eat less often. That means the big 9’ and 10’ Boas, like Mario a nd Elsa, get a small or medium rabbit once a month and an xl chicken thrown in for a treat every few months or so. However if you have a boa that needs to lose weight smaller food items, more often, can get their metabolism going to aid in weight loss.

Younger growing boas from ages 1-5 get rats more often (weekly if they’re really thin and small, every two weeks if they have a healthy body condition score.) They also occasionally get a quail or small chicken thrown in the mix for variety.

Some of the dwarf boas are even more unique! The Calker Cay boas evolved on an island where food is scarce and therefore adapted to an arboreal hunting style of catching migratory birds from trees, and are very opportunistic. That means they will eat as often as you let them. However in the wild they often would go long times without food since the migration patterns of the birds they eat aren’t year round or constant. So, although the dwarf boas are very small they are adapted to lower food availability and therefore are only fed here once a month despite being teeny tiny.

The blood pythons are sluggos with the slowest metabolism of all. They eat much smaller food items for their size and less often than the other snakes.

Retics and burms? Forget about it! They are garbage disposals. They eat tons of food due to rapid growth. That means they can eat chickens more often than the boas, and they can have guinea pigs! Guinea pigs are like snickers bars – High calorie and high fat. Yum yum. Whatever you do, please don’t feed guinea pigs to your boas because that’s way too much fat for them.

Last point is don’t forget to cut back on calories once they finish they’re youth rapid growth phase. By the time the retics and burms reach 5 or 6 years of age you can cut back quite a bit on their food. We often see obese burms and retics our there. Just because they want to eat doesn’t mean you should let them. Preventing obesity is vital to your snake living a long healthy life!

I encourage you all to spend some time considering whether or not the diet you are offering your pet snakes is right for them – for their species and locality, as well as for their age.

Hope you enjoyed this brief snake food discussion. Here’s some snake dinner pictures for you!

Cheers!

Snake Mites? uhg those lil’ monsters!

CAUTION: viewer discretion advised (seizure video)

Ok it’s high time I wrote about mites. They are much more common than people want to admit.

The video for this post shows a ball python suffering a Permethrin overdose. This was an honest mistake by someone who really knows quite a lot about snake care. Unfortunately a simple dilution or dosing error can happen to anyone and may result in dire consequences. The owner of this animal realized their mistake quickly, sought out assistance, and made immediate changes and treatments that saved the animal. We are happy, and thankful, to announce that the animal in this video did survive.

Snake Mites? uhg those lil’ monsters!CAUTION: viewer discretion advised (seizure video)Ok it’s high time I wrote about mites. They are much more common than people want to admit. The video for this post shows a ball python suffering a Permethrin overdose. This was an honest mistake by someone who really knows quite a lot about snake care. Unfortunately a simple dilution or dosing error can happen to anyone and may result in dire consequences. The owner of this animal realized their mistake quickly, sought out assistance, and made immediate changes and treatments that saved the animal. We are happy, and thankful, to announce that the animal in this video did survive. Unfortunately Snake Haus has mites ever on our minds. We often work with animals in terrible condition and mites are a common part of that. We have strict quarantine and handling protocols in place to prevent spread. Any time you take in a new animal you risk bringing in mites. So, lets talk about how to prevent and treat them.There are several products available for treating mites but they mostly all fall into just a few categories and are all insecticides.- Pyrethrin:This is a natural compound found in some flowers and is often used in the form of a powder for ecto-parasite control in poultry. – Permethrin: NIX and Provent-a-miteTake note here that Permethrin, the man-made version of Pyrethrin, is MUCH more toxic. It should never be used on cats and must be diluted correctly for use in reptiles. It is the compound that caused the snake in this video to have muscle tremors and seizures. – Fipronil: Frontline sprayThis is a flea product made for dogs and cats. The active ingredient is fipronil and is safe to apply directly to the animal in most mammals AND reptiles. However, fipronil is toxic to rabbits. – Ivermectin:This is a common insecticide used in agricultural animals for parasite prevention. It is also commonly used in dogs for the prevention of heart worm as the active ingredient in Heart Guard. Be careful though, because certain dog breeds (shepherds and collies) can have a genetic mutation (MDR1) that makes them extra sensitive to Ivermectin. A high overdose causes extreme sedation in mammals and reptiles, however those breeds with MDR1 gene can experience severe sedation from just normal doses. For many years our go-to in the veterinary field for snake mites has been combined injections and topical Ivermectin. Unfortunately we have been seeing resistance in many types of organisms these days. We all know about bacterial resistance. Resistance is also possible in insects, plants, and viruses as well. We have unfortunately been seeing some cases of Ivermectin resistance in snake mites. Try to remember that good hygiene and strict preventative measures are the best way to keep mites from entering your collection.We prevent mites at Snake Haus with Frontline spray. The enclosures are prepped before arrival of a new animal with a full cleaning and then a light coating of Frontline is applied inside the enclosure that is allowed to dry and is not washed away. The paper that is put into the enclosure is also sprayed with Frontline and allowed to dry. Then every new intake gets a direct contact treatment. I spray the back half of their body and then I spray my hands and blot it onto their face, chin, and head. Doing two separate treatments like this 3 weeks apart will keep any mites from entering the resident population.The moral of this story is twofold:1) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t forget to quarantine new animals and pre-treat your enclosures. Assume EVERY snake has the possibility of carrying mites.2) Do not try to make your own mite treatments unless you have the guidance of someone who has done it many times and can double check your math.We sincerely hope this post has been helpful. Keep your animals safe out there and, if in doubt, call your vet for help.Cheers!UPDATE: This post is not meant to scare you away from using these products rather it should remind you that any product out there can cause problems when used incorrectly. Please use common sense and ask for help or guidance when you aren’t sure about something. 👍❤️

Posted by Snake Haus on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Unfortunately Snake Haus has mites ever on our minds. We often work with animals in terrible condition and mites are a common part of that. We have strict quarantine and handling protocols in place to prevent spread.

Any time you take in a new animal you risk bringing in mites. So, lets talk about how to prevent and treat them.

There are several products available for treating mites but they mostly all fall into just a few categories and are all insecticides.

– Pyrethrin:
This is a natural compound found in some flowers and is often used in the form of a powder for ecto-parasite control in poultry.

– Permethrin: NIX and Provent-a-mite
Take note here that Permethrin, the man-made version of Pyrethrin, is MUCH more toxic. It should never be used on cats and must be diluted correctly for use in reptiles. It is the compound that caused the snake in this video to have muscle tremors and seizures.

– Fipronil: Frontline spray
This is a flea product made for dogs and cats. The active ingredient is fipronil and is safe to apply directly to the animal in most mammals AND reptiles. However, fipronil is toxic to rabbits.

– Ivermectin:
This is a common insecticide used in agricultural animals for parasite prevention. It is also commonly used in dogs for the prevention of heart worm as the active ingredient in Heart Guard. Be careful though, because certain dog breeds (shepherds and collies) can have a genetic mutation (MDR1) that makes them extra sensitive to Ivermectin. A high overdose causes extreme sedation in mammals and reptiles, however those breeds with MDR1 gene can experience severe sedation from just normal doses.

For many years our go-to in the veterinary field for snake mites has been combined injections and topical Ivermectin. Unfortunately we have been seeing resistance in many types of organisms these days. We all know about bacterial resistance. Resistance is also possible in insects, plants, and viruses as well. We have unfortunately been seeing some cases of Ivermectin resistance in snake mites. Try to remember that good hygiene and strict preventative measures are the best way to keep mites from entering your collection.

We prevent mites at Snake Haus with Frontline spray. The enclosures are prepped before arrival of a new animal with a full cleaning and then a light coating of Frontline is applied inside the enclosure that is allowed to dry and is not washed away. The paper that is put into the enclosure is also sprayed with Frontline and allowed to dry. Then every new intake gets a direct contact treatment. I spray the back half of their body and then I spray my hands and blot it onto their face, chin, and head. Doing two separate treatments like this 3 weeks apart will keep any mites from entering the resident population.

The moral of this story is twofold:

1) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t forget to quarantine new animals and pre-treat your enclosures. Assume EVERY snake has the possibility of carrying mites.
2) Do not try to make your own mite treatments unless you have the guidance of someone who has done it many times and can double check your math.

We sincerely hope this post has been helpful. Keep your animals safe out there and, if in doubt, call your vet for help.

Cheers!

UPDATE: This post is not meant to scare you away from using these products rather it should remind you that any product out there can cause problems when used incorrectly. Please use common sense and ask for help or guidance when you aren’t sure about something. 👍❤️

Now that’s what I call a Snake Belt!

Did you know? – Snakes can learn!

Not only that but they can, and should, be taught safe handling techniques along with you. We as the handlers are not the only ones that need to learn how to interact with them, but also them with us. It should be a partnership, and it is built on trust.

Now THAT is what I call a Snake Belt 😉So proud of Valac tonight! Whatta good boy.

Posted by Snake Haus on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

This post is actually about safe handling techniques for large snakes. Other than hook or tap training which is essential, the Snake Scarf is the next most important thing you should UNlearn. We’ve all seen people wearing their snake around their neck like a scarf. This is something I strongly discourage and almost never allow the Snake Haus animals to do.

From day one I start training our snakes the one shoulder – belt position. This is very important for the largest of boas, and all burms and retics. You should never allow a large snake to wrap fully around your neck. They hold on when trying to prevent themselves from falling and you really don’t want your neck to be what they hold onto. 
For the record – they are NOT constricting you, rather they are holding onto you to keep from falling!

We all have the tendency to carry the weight of a large snake on our shoulder because that is where we are strongest. However, you should only use ONE shoulder, not both. By repeatedly placing your second arm over their coil each time they go to your other shoulder, they quickly learn to hang onto your armpit and waste, instead of your neck.

My preferred position for the really long snakes is to have their 1st 1/3 of length over one shoulder and the rest of them wrapped around my waist like a belt. I do this so consistently and repeatedly with all of my snakes that they learn to choose this position themselves.

This accomplishes TWO GOALS: 
1) Hands free – I can completely let go of the animal to talk, gesture, and work on things while handling a snake that is more than 10 feet long. . . because they hold on and help support their own weight. 
2) Trust – this technique teaches the animal to stay with ME for safety and reassurance. When hanging onto me in this way they can feel my heart beat and breathing and will visible calm and settle when I take a deep breath and they feel my calmness.

Have a look through these pictures to see the repeated pattern of how I hold them.

So, what are we going to remember from this discussion? The rule with large snakes is use only ONE shoulder.

Just say NO to the snake scarf! 😃

Lets talk BACTERIA

Yes, I do mean that. Odd topic perhaps, I know, but this is something I wonder if many keepers have thought about. Bear with me because this is a bit of a long one, but hopefully a good one.

Someone asked me today – What do you use to clean your enclosures? My answer surprised them. I use warm water and dish soap. No, I do not routinely sterilize my enclosures.

Let’s consider the world we live in today where the incorrect use of chemical compounds has created super bugs, and poor life choices have led to bad immune system function. Antibiotic resistance is a fairly well known topic. However, did you know that resistance also develops to house hold cleaners, antiseptic solutions, parasiticides, antifungals, and antivirals? It’s a scary world we live in today where so many individuals are colonized by super bugs and don’t even know it; OR have such poor immunity that even their own healthy normal flora can make them sick.

There is an alternative to using antiseptics to protect ourselves from disease. That alternative is to maintain normal good bacteria and a healthy immune system. This is true of us humans AND our pets.

By repeatedly sterilizing our environment with cleaners like Rocal, Nolvasan, and F10 we are killing all microbes, even the good ones. Our bodies need our normal flora alive and well for things like gastrointestinal health and immune system function. A population of healthy normal flora can OUT COMPETE the bad bacteria and help your immune system fight them off. However, if your immune system never has a chance to see those potential pathogens it cannot form a defense against them. Allowing ourselves exposure to small amounts of pathogens through normal healthy living is what keeps us strong and adaptable to new diseases.

Yes, I use antiseptic products when cleaning our ICU enclosures, quarantine, and surgery suites. No, I do not use them in the Snake Haus healthy animal areas. Instead, we use good husbandry and cleaning practices to ensure the amount of bacteria in the environment stays at an acceptable level. That means changing out dirty substrate and water much more often than most people do.

I cringe when I hear people say they like deep substrate because it helps absorb the urine and fecal material produced by the animal. Unfortunately, deep substrate soaked in excrement is an excellent environment for bacteria to grow. You may have seen that we use layers of brown paper and mats for our snakes rather than deep substrate. I do this because it makes it impossible to hide how dirty, or clean, each enclosure is. When it does get dirty simply roll the paper up and replace it – ta-dah! Clean enclosure in 30 seconds flat!

Another aspect of this is STRESS! We all know that too much stress causes us humans to have lower immune system health. That is true of our snakes as well. Simple things like appropriate hides, climbers, and cage furniture can lower your snake’s stress level so much that it gives them an immune boost!

Snakes are like us and benefit from having healthy normal flora and low stress living. May I suggest we strive to improve our husbandry to a high enough level that we don’t need our animals to live in a sterile environment?

Ok now go outside and play in dirt for your own health 😃 Cheers!

Pacific Northwest Reptile and Exotic Animal Show

Thank you so much to everyone who came to show your support for Snake Haus this weekend.

Although we are not there to actually sell anything, we hope the information we shared, and the animals that were on display, will help people in the reptile community start, or continue, to make smart decisions for these animals.

Please please please KEEP your snakes for life. They are not throw away animals to buy and only keep for a few years. If you are going to buy a baby snake you better be planning to keep and care for it for 30 years! Or, if you aren’t ready for a 30 year commitment, perhaps adopting an adult animal is the way to go. ❤️🐍

We will get back to our more entertaining and educational posts soon now that we’re done with the expo hub-bub.
Cheers!

What to do, and what NOT to do, when handling retics:

Time for some brutal honesty here folks! Let’s use my own mistake as a learning opportunity and remember no one is perfect. ❤️🐍

We USUALLY follow pretty strict rules here at Snake Haus when handling the large snakes. These animals do have the potential to cause us injury if we aren’t careful, but our handling rules keep us safe.

During all the hubbub and distractions of managing our booth for the expo this weekend I broke one of my rules and suffered the consequences. The rule I broke was “wash your hands BEFORE you handle the snakes”.

Why before? Washing off the debris and smells of whatever else you’ve been doing that day is an easy way to prevent confusion and stress for your snake. It also helps decrease the risk of spreading disease. Always remember the smell of your other animals, and your own food, can influence your snake’s behavior.

In this case I made the mistake of handling a 2 year old reticulated python after eating a piece of rotisserie chicken. I did not wash my hands before handling her.

Fable is a newer intake that has not gone through my food or hook training yet, and she was kept very “lean” by her previous owner. That means she is REALY hungry and will eat just about anything.

It did not occur to me that rotisserie chicken might smell like food to her. I would never reach into a snake enclosure with the smell of rat rabbit or guinea pig on my hands. Now I know roasted chicken is also a trigger. Duh! 🤦🏻‍♀️ what a silly mistake!

There are several learning points to this story:

1. When handled correctly a bite from one of these animals isn’t really that bad! These pictures show some spectacular bruising but that’s it really. This was a food bite which is when the snake mistakes your hand as food and therefore does not let go. Little Fable chewed on my hand for quite a while before I was able to coax her into letting go willingly. If you do happen to get bit by a retic do NOT panic. Just stay calm, be patient, grit your teeth and wait for them to let go on their own. Pulling or forcing them off of you can cause their teeth to do way more damage to your skin as well as cause pretty serious injury to their mouth. In this case we used a little bit of hand sanitizer to help her realize my hand didn’t taste as good as she thought it would.

2. Don’t break the rules! No matter how experienced you are, always remember you’re not perfect and you’re only human. Sooner or later you’ll make a mistake that you might regret. Set yourself a list of clear rules and follow them always. Rules keep us and our animals safe.

3. Snake bites are not something to brag about, be proud of, nor be used to show that you’re tough. If you get bitten by a snake it means YOU made a dumb mistake that put your animals at risk! Snakes do not bite out of aggression. They bite either from fear and defense, or because they’ve misunderstood a food item. I caused this bite by forgetting to follow one of my rules and poor Fable is not to be held at fault.

4. Learn from your mistakes. If you do happen to get bitten learn what YOU did to cause it and change your behavior for the next time to prevent it.

I hope this was a useful post and that it can help us learn to prevent silly mistakes like this. I suppose you never know what a hungry retic might think is food. I feel so bad that Fable thought she was about to get a super yummy chicken dinner and ended up with hand sanitizer instead. Poor kiddo!

I realize now that of course she would think chicken smelled good! Duh, I feed whole chickens to the bigger retics fairly often. Don’t worry, Fable is fine and now has the fantastic nickname of “Lil Chicken”. I’ll give her a yummy quail for dinner tomorrow and hope she can forgive me for my mistake.

Cheers!