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 --Kelfezond's Guide - "My Royal Isn't Eating!"--
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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  10:24:34  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
ďMy royal isnít eatingĒ

I hear this almost every day on our forum and while weíre always happy to treat each person as an individual and each snake problem as its own I thought Iíd post up here for everyone to see my way of dealing with fasting royals.
Before I begin I want to say one more time for the record this is just my way of doing it, there is no definite right way and every keeper eventually finds their own way of doing it.
I find there are a few stages of severity when it comes to royals not eating and depending on which stage the royal is in I take different action.

Firstly Iíll quickly go over how I feed in a step-by-step
1. I firstly take the rodents I am planning to feed out of the freezer in the morning and place them on a tray on top of a vivarium where the wood begins to warm above the heating bulb (if you donít use a bulb it doesnít matter any side or table will do fine I just like the extra warmth)
2. By midnight they are fully defrosted and Iím ready to feed
3. I lay out all the rodents for that feed in a row (all level heads) and run a hairdryer over them all for about 2 minutes. This normally fills the room with a rat scent (which is just lovely :/ ) and the snakes are normally beginning to poke their heads out
4. I take my chosen rat and blast the head with a hairdryer for 30 seconds
5. Holding the tail or hind legs I offer the rodent to the snake, personally I donít like spending too long in front of the snake I normally know if theyíre going to eat or not pretty quickly but for beginners take as long as you need to
6. If the snake fails to strike I place the rodent in the middle of the cage and leave it overnight
7. By morning I check if anything has been eaten and remove the unwanted food to be disposed of



I should mention here a quick list of potential 'problems' that can cause a royal to stop feeding.
Too much handling for too long
Vivarium too close to television / speakers
Illness/Diesease
Enclousure set up incorrectly
Approaching breeding season



Stage 1: The Healthy Fast
Description: It is best said straight off the bat that royals have a strange way of surviving in captivity, theyíre not keen on eating at the best of times and even though they are opportunist predators they do quite often refuse to eat, there is nothing wrong with this Ė it is not failing on part of the keeper, most of the time the snake is perfectly happy and healthy heís just not eating. This can last anything from missing two or three feeds to not feeding for 12 months, depending on the size of the royal the fasting can last longer. It is very important through the life of your snake to keep accurate records of the royals weight, when the fast begins we can watch the weight and see how steady it falls during the fast. It is important that we know the difference between a healthy fast and an unhealthy fast Ė this is determined by weight loss. Now itís very difficult to give figures and say ďIf your royal loses x grams then he needs helpĒ so I wonít try and give a number but rather say that once you have been keeping the royal for some time youíll know by going over previous records what weight loss you should experience from a healthy fast, if this is the first time your royal has gone off food I would suggest the only course of action you take is waiting and being patient. If he loses 10% of his bodyweight you need to consider him in a different stage to this.

What I do for Stage 1: Patience! Here we just wait and see how it goes, until something changes we donít need to take any other action. Keep track of the weight and consider spacing his feeds further apart (If he feeds every 5 days change it to every 7)



Stage 2: The Long Fast
Description: When a snake has been fasting for a considerable amount of time (For me this is normally 4-5 months) but has not begun to lose any considerable weight I personally get inpatient and begin to take alternate action, while at this stage you can still just wait it out and no harm will come to the snake youíre probably at the end of your tether and stressing about him, many a time Iíve ended up losing my temper with a non-feeder after 8 or 9 months and decided if he doesnít feed soon itís going to be more stressful to me than it is to him!

What I do for Stage 2: Now Iíve seen a lot of people turn to assist feeding for this stage and I strongly advise against it! This is the stage I begin experimenting with different sized foods, adding scents to the prey (like dipping it in chicken stock or covering in chick blood) or braining (Personally none of these have ever worked for me, others swear by them but Iíve never gotten a royal to feed any way other than regular prey heated up with a hairdryer)



Stage 3: The Unhealthy Fast
Description: Here we notice our royal losing weight and no matter what we try we cannot get any food in him. Itís not gotten dangerous yet but it is extremely stressful for us and itís bordering on harmful for him. This is a particularly dangerous stage; it can very easily slip into a bad state here if weíre not careful. We want to find the perfect balance between not stressing him out and getting food into him.

What I do for Stage 3: Depending on how your royal is to handle you can begin attempting to assist-feed (See Assist-feeding below) here, what we are doing here is trying to give him a taste for food finally Ė Iíve seen some royals that when assist-fed will immediately begin constricting the food and from that day on be happy to feed, this Iíve found is mostly with young royals. At this stage we continue to offer food spread out, we can continue experimenting with scenting and other such methods but weíre beginning to get a little more hands on. Hopefully after this the royal will return to a normal feeding schedule.



Stage 4: Harmful Fast
Description: If after Stage 3 the royal is still not feeding and still losing weight rapidly thing are getting dicey, at this stage I advise seeking a vets attention. We can consider more methods of feeding now as well.

What I do for Stage 4: Here I pull out all the stops, itís no longer a case of worrying about how stressed my royal will become itís a case of ďHe needs food to liveĒ and any way I can get it into him I will. At this point (unless my royal appears unhealthy) I begin live feeding, now I donít want a debate on the morality or law on live-feeding so Iíll just say that you are within your rights to do what is needed to keep your royal healthy, and as long as you donít go about it in a silly way you are fine. Live feeding needs to be done with the upmost care for your snake and the rodent (See Live Feeding below). I have only had to do Live Feeding twice since I started caring for snakes and each time it has been a miracle, however I stress again that we DO NOT consider it until Stage 4, it is not a ďquick-fixĒ to the royal mentality. If the snake refuses Live food and refuses Assist-feeding then force feeding can be considered.




How to
Assist-feed
Assist feeding is a relatively simple thing to do but it can be stressful to snakes, especially if they are not used to being handled and pinned.
Firstly I take my snake out of his enclosure and let him slither through my hands for a few moments, when he has calmed a little I gently pin him behind his head
Next I take a small rodent (Normally about the size of my snakes head, possibly slightly bigger) and press the nose of the rat firmly to the snakes mouth. At this point he will open his mouth and (hopefully) bite down onto the rodent and begin constricting, when he has done this I let him go and place him back in his home.
If he does not constrict (which is often the case) I gently ease the rodent a little further into his mouth (normally to his back teeth) and then while still holding both the rodent in his mouth and his head, I gently place him back in his cage, when he stops struggling I let go and cross my fingers, hoping he carries on eating. I find itís normally 50/50 to if heíll carry on or not, I only try the once per feed.

Live Feed
Live feeding is relatively easily, itís just a test of common sense. Once the rodent (I use multiís) has been introduced I watch closely, I always have a wooden chopstick at hand as itís a fairly blunt and soft instrument which I can work with. After 5 minutes if the snake has not made any attempt on his dinner I call it quits, you can go slightly longer but keep a close eye on whats going on.
Normally itís a simple case of ďif the rodent bites the snake, take it outĒ but it gets tricky when the snake does strike and constricts but faffs it up, fortunately this only happened once to me and it was simply a case of holding the stick between the rats mouth and the snakes scales so he was unable to bite him, a few seconds pass and the rodent is normally dead before you know whats going on. NEVER leave the rodent alone with the snake.

Force Feeding
Force feeding is very stressful and I always consider it the absolute last resort, I have only had to do this once on a snake that had never had a feed and I simply did it to give him enough bodyweight to take a live-feed without worrying me. The principle is the same as assist-feeding except you never let go and you continue to very gently work the rodent to the point of no return. This should only be considered after consulting an expert and especially after a vet visit.

I hope this has been useful and as always I am available for contact at Kelfezond@hotmail.co.uk or on facebook at KelfezondReptiles
Goodluck and happy feeding!

\v/ Click me for Kelfezond Reptiles Facebook Page! \v/

Edited by - Kelfezond on 02/07/2012 11:53:45

blackskull
Fully Grown Royal

United Kingdom
1278 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  10:32:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
very good read

1.1 normal royal, sully, silver
0.1 pinstripe royal, penny
1.1 pastel royal, lars, clover
0.1 lesser royal, serenity
0.1 black pastel royal, betty
0.1 mojave royal, mavis
0.1 normal het clown
1.0 pastel het clown
1.0 nuclear, ned
1.0 super phantom
1.0 childrens python, myles
0.1 hog island boa
0.1 sonoran x boa, grace
0.0.1 mack snow leopard gecko, munchkin
4.1 cats, stan, dave, marble, binx, daisy
4.1 rabbits, mol, ted, bill, spud, alice
0.1 crazy cat/bunny lady of bridgwater, lucy
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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  10:39:19  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Thanks BlackSkull :)

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Stewy-C-
Yearling

United Kingdom
103 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  11:35:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Excellent write up. When I have had to force feed I tend to either use the smallest pinkies I can get, or cut up a larger pinky. As a last resort, force feeding is generally to add weight, for the well being of the snake. Which is why I will give a few pinkies in on session. Done this way it takes about 3-5 seconds from mouth to gut, causing as little stress as possible. Just my two cents.

1.0 Spider Royal
0.1 Pastel Royal
0.1 Snow Corn
"The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about"
"On the internet you can be anything you want, its strange that so many people choose to be stupid"

Edited by - Stewy-C- on 01/07/2012 12:06:58
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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  11:38:33  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Sounds like a useful way to do it Stewy, thanks :)

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Unamed
Yearling

United Kingdom
147 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  14:25:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you for the great post

0.0.1 Python Regius
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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  14:55:35  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Unamed

Thank you for the great post



Thanks Unamed, You're welcome

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Lotabob
Royal Python Moderator

United Kingdom
5008 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  15:36:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nice write up, should come in handy as a standard my royal isn't eating copy&paste of link reply lol.


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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  15:53:24  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Haha I thought that too but I'm not a big fan of link spammed replys, everyone should be made to feel unique and such, was one of the things I loved most about TRP was we help everyone individually instead of complaining about repeating ourselves :D

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Lotabob
Royal Python Moderator

United Kingdom
5008 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  16:06:48  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I never complain lol.

OK a standard addition to the bottom of a personalised response. The kiss at the end of a TRP cuddle.


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Fezza
Fully Grown Royal

United Kingdom
1063 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  16:33:49  Show Profile  Visit Fezza's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Great write up Kelf, you're super productive on Sundays

Sticky?

1.0.0 normal royal
1.0.0 mojave royal
1.0.0 pastel enchi royal
0.1.0 cinnamon royal
0.1.0 pewter royal
0.1.0 genetic stripe royal
0.1.0 lesser goblin royal
0.1.0 phantom royal
0.1.0 Columbian rainbow boa
0.0.1 aru x jaya GTP
0.1.0 bredli
1.0.0 trans pecos rat snake
1.0.0 fat black cat
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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  16:37:30  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Haha I was hoping nobody would notice I only become a good Mod' on sundays xD Yeah I think I will if nobody has any objections to the content :)

Also re-thinking the live feeding bit, I always say live over assist and yet here I've put assist in stage 3 and live in stage 4 ... hmm

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Edited by - Kelfezond on 01/07/2012 16:48:39
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acd1984
Sub Adult

United Kingdom
687 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  16:56:36  Show Profile  Click to see acd1984's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Nice guide kelf!


1.0.0 Lesser - Helios
2.0.0 Normal - George & Kairo
1.0.0 Mojave - Bolt
0.1.0 Mojave - Roxi
1.0.0 Leopard Gecko - Leo
0.0.1 Crocodile gecko - Pheonix

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Fezza
Fully Grown Royal

United Kingdom
1063 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  18:32:20  Show Profile  Visit Fezza's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kelfezond

Haha I was hoping nobody would notice I only become a good Mod' on sundays xD Yeah I think I will if nobody has any objections to the content :)

Also re-thinking the live feeding bit, I always say live over assist and yet here I've put assist in stage 3 and live in stage 4 ... hmm


controversial!

I'd be tempted to leave as it is but that's my opinion. Live feeding would be my last resort. It's your guide though so should reflect your view and experience

1.0.0 normal royal
1.0.0 mojave royal
1.0.0 pastel enchi royal
0.1.0 cinnamon royal
0.1.0 pewter royal
0.1.0 genetic stripe royal
0.1.0 lesser goblin royal
0.1.0 phantom royal
0.1.0 Columbian rainbow boa
0.0.1 aru x jaya GTP
0.1.0 bredli
1.0.0 trans pecos rat snake
1.0.0 fat black cat
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Stewy-C-
Yearling

United Kingdom
103 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  18:46:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I also think assist feeding should be before live. When done correctly there should be little stress for the snake. I tend to lift the glass out of the viv, and assist them in their own viv. When they have slid their jaws two times on each side, in goes the glass and out goes the light.

I also would even force feed (in the way I stated above) before live feeding in most cases. Reason being, I think with most royals I could get a decent sized meal inside of them in under 2 minutes. Therefore minimising stress as much as possible. Also it has been proved how hard it is for me to get live mice in my area.

I wouldn't expect many people would force feed before trying a live feeding though. As I know the snake being willing to eat is important, but if done with little stress, forcing will kick start a snake in most cases.

1.0 Spider Royal
0.1 Pastel Royal
0.1 Snow Corn
"The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about"
"On the internet you can be anything you want, its strange that so many people choose to be stupid"
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reptiledanny
Old Royal - I Post too much!

United Kingdom
2106 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  19:28:28  Show Profile  Click to see reptiledanny's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
thought id chip in and add one thing. my male hasnt eaten since last movember, and that was a fast since i think october, where he took one chick in november, and then hasnt eaten anything since. he weighed roughly around 950 grams when he started. recently hes been hitting the 800-850g mark, so to me this was to much of a wieght gain. the mind games constantly played of 'he will eat when hes ready in his own time' but now it was time to start taking action.
was buying food today, and thought id ask if they had any gerbals/multis etc in. he didnt, but had the chicks in again. thought since i hadnt tried him on chicks for a long time id get a couple.
low and behold, tonight i offer chick, he does his usual 'seems interested, but then goes back into hide'. i then removed the hide and showed him chick again. again he did his usuall lick and sniff, so thought id leave it in with him. fed corn and checked back, hes still interested. fed boa, and low and behold while shes eating i check back on him and theres the chick in his mouth.
step forward, will offer him a chick next weekend end and see how he goes from here.
just shows, keep trying, and then work your way up. if he hadnt eaten my next step would have been multis. if they hadnt worked it would have been assist, and then it would have been live after that. obviosly all of these would have been tried for a few weeks.


1.2 royal pythons 0.1 hog island boa 1.0 corn snake
sig made by stapey
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austin_89
Fully Grown Royal

United Kingdom
1248 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  22:37:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sticky!

Great post kelf :)

1.1.0 Normal Royal Pythons... Kane (CF11) + Frankie (CB11)
1.0.0 Spider Royal Python (CB13)
1.0.0 100% het kahl albino boa Dexter (CB13)
1.0.0 Butter Corn...
0.1.0 Snow Corn... Alice
0.1.0 Red Harlequin Crested Gecko... Charlie
0.1.0 Albino Leopard Gecko... Cleo
1.1.0 African Green Mantis
1.0.0 Staffy... Alfie
1.1.0 Cats... Ebony and DK

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Danno91
Sub Adult

United Kingdom
521 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2012 :  23:37:12  Show Profile  Click to see Danno91's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Very good post, this would have saved me alot of research a while back, im intrested to see what you do with assist and live as if I had gotten to that stage I was planing on live before assist, as you know I was lucky not to need to.

I'll agree sticky this please

http://www.facebook.com/DannosRoyalPythons?ref=hl
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Kelfezond
The bearded one

United Kingdom
4803 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2012 :  11:53:32  Show Profile  Visit Kelfezond's Homepage  Click to see Kelfezond's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Righto fella's, will leave it as is and sticky. Thanks for the kind words and extra advice.

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Lincsfox
Yearling

121 Posts

Posted - 07/07/2012 :  16:38:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just a quick question, if you do have to go down the live route, would you do it in their own viv or somewhere more open to the food is easier to get, an empty RUB for example?


1.0.0 Pastel Royal - Monty
0.1.0 Amel Corn - Connie (Still MIA)
0.1.0 Carolina Corn - Summer
0.1.0 Snow Corn - Ella
0.0.1 Leopard Gecko - awaiting name
1.0.0 Pug - Bentley
1.1.0 Rugrats
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Lotabob
Royal Python Moderator

United Kingdom
5008 Posts

Posted - 07/07/2012 :  21:13:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would think in familiar surroundings BUT well supervised is the way to do it but this would come with you needing to be on mouse/rat poop watch as well as making sure no suffering occurs.


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