Adult Solomon Island Ground Boa Ignoring Food

I’ve had an adult female Solomon Island Ground Boa for a few years. She has gone on short hunger strikes every year I have had her, but otherwise is a good feeder. She was overweight when I got her, so the hunger strikes weren’t much of a concern previously.

This year she is going on over 5 months without eating (last feed was a medium rat on 2/22) and she has definitely lost some mass. Still looks healthy, but I am starting to get a little concerned with her lack of interest in food. Anyone with experience with this species able to provide some insight on this situation?

History:
I got her from a breeder who had her for 3 years as part of a breeding project that they were getting out of (they were feeding FT rats once a week).
She is a wild caught, long term captive, with a few significant old scars I was told she had when they got her.
I have no clue how old she is, but I would guess she is in the “senior” range of the age spectrum.

She is roughly 4ft and rarely sheds (in the time I have had her, she has only shed 3-4 times)

She is in a 3ft wide x 2ft deep x 15in tall AP Carpet-Python-Cage (shelf, fake plant cover, ground hide, and high hide mounted to the ceiling… she uses all the hides, but will spend significant time out in the open, coiled in the front of the cage during the day)… I have tried her in bigger and smaller cages and she seems to do best in this one.

Her cage is in the middle of a stack of 4 (male Pueblan Milksnake on top, my son’s male Ball Python next, her cage, and a 3yr old male Sonoran Boa below her)

Humidity I keep no lower than 60% and I spike it regularly to 80% with one of the hides setup as a damp hide for constant access to higher humidity.
She has a large water bowl that she can fit in, but in the years I have had her, I have only seen her in it twice.

Ambient Temp hovers around 79 to 80F
Hot Spot Temp 90 to 92F (belly heat)

Substrate is Cypress Mulch (Damp Hide has a mix of ground coconut husk and cypress)

Feeding FT medium rats every 2-3 weeks in the evening after lights shut off
(rats mostly… I have gotten her to eat reptilinks a few times in the past and have tried small FT chickens on her with no success).
A few weeks ago I tried a live, small adult rat to see if that would get her attention, but no interest beyond watching it move around the bottom of the cage from her high hide
(I left it in with her for a few hours while I kept an eye on the cage. She extended out to watch it, but never attempted to strike at it).

Again, any insights would be appreciated.
I have not taken her to a vet, yet.
The vet I used to use for snakes (pre-pandemic) is no longer supporting “exotics” and I haven’t found anyone local since who will even look at a reptile.
If anyone out there knows of a vet in or near Sarasota, FL that will look at reptiles, I would very much appreciate that info, too.

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Hello @slothart! Wow that’s a shame about your girl! Tbh I have no experience with the type of boa you have but I do have a CA male boa. Red is only 5 years old and he usually goes off feed for a few months out of the year as well. The first time he did he lost a bit of weight but after a couple of sheds and poops he started eating again, and I think it was just a little warm fuzzy that got him going.

It strikes me as odd that your girl has only had 3 or 4 sheds while in your care. And when was the last time she pooped? Her senior age may be a factor too.

If it were me I would give her (if possible) a good warm soak for about 30 minutes a couple of times during the week. She may be a bit dehydrated or she may need to poop or both. Also you could try putting her in a smaller tub with a warm ft small prey. Maybe she needs to be in closer quarters with her meal to entice her.

I’m sure others will chime in here who have experience with these boas. In the meantime you could also contact your ex exotics vet to see if he/she can connect you with another vet in/around your area.

I know what you are going through @slothart. Hopefully someone here can offer some more or better insight. Best wishes for a happy ending and keep the updates coming……

Caron. :pray::heart:

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I like all @caron ideas and second the couple soaks a week for sure. Also a smaller f/t or live prey item like she mentioned is a great trick! I just wanted a little more info, any weird behavior, any mouth gaping, nose or chin rubs, discharge from mouth or cloaca, and any problems when she does shed? and pics if you got them. Love that species of boa, very beautiful and nice to work with, I hope she just turns on the eating switch for ya!

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Appreciate it.

I have not tried soaking her. I will give it a go this week.

I can try a tub feeding this week as well.

Last time she produced significant fecal matter was probably March. She is producing urates weekly, just in a smaller amount than when she is on food.

No behavior change I have noticed. She tends to stay in one spot through out the day and becomes active as soon as the lights go out. I can look in her cage from my desk right now and she is currently hanging down from the shelf poised right in front of the glass looking like she is waiting for food.
No gaping or discharges. All her sheds have been complete with no help from me.
I rarely handle her. She has never tried to bite or even poop on me, but when I do get her out all she does is try to get away and hide. I’ve even experimented with leaving her glass open so she can choose to come out and explore. The most she has ever done was stick her head out briefly before going back into her enclosure.

I don’t have any recent picts of her, but here is one from a few months ago after I deep cleaned all the enclosures:

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Well a lot of times if an animal is not feeling quite up to par and they are given fluids it gives them a little kick start appetite wise, especially in older animals.

How long have you had her? The simple fact that she is eyeing you imo is a sign that she is anticipating food. But she sounds “depressed”, not mentally of course but physically.

Other than what has already been suggested, I can’t think of anything else. If you want, you can try feeding in the tub first and then if that doesn’t work then you could do the soaks. My boy Red ate in the tub way without soaking. There are people who swear by putting reptile electrolytes in the soaking water. I think it can be purchased off Amazon.

If all that fails she really should be seen by a vet and I would think your old vet could or should refer you to someone else………

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My normal feeding day is Wednesday.
I was thinking of soaking her today and trying the tub feeding tomorrow.

If I am remembering correctly, I’ve had her for 3 years this month.

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Once again I agree with @caron maybe a vet would be a good idea if the soaking and other tricks don’t work, but give it some time a few weeks to another month unless her health deteriorates. You may just be correct in that she is a old snake, maybe she is not eating or moving as much because of that? All your husbandry sounds about right to me, maybe for less stress you can see if a experienced herper in your area could just come give it a look and quick hands on feel?

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