Hi everyone I am new to MM. I have owned snakes in the past but never an albino western hognose. Long story short I may have over researched or under researched Im not sure, but I need help from all you great people.
I got my baby albino western hog, named TOFU, probably just over 6 weeks ago when he was 4 weeks old from a breeder. I had the enclosure all set up and yes it is most likely too big for this about 8 inch baby hog but I did not want to keep buying and buying things as he matured. Regardless, its what I have at the moment and I am hoping to work with it or try to change the interior of it. There are the standard things, several hides, water bowl, hot side cool side heat pad etc. I used a coconut hair/fiber substrate so that my hog could burrow and he loves it but i am thinking of switching it all to the aspen because this substrate doesn’t seem to hold and create a tunnel for him.
The main problem though that I am having is that before I got him he was apparently eating live pinkys and I cannot get those in middle of nowwhere Casper Wyoming so I have tried f/s pinky and fuzzy but no eating. I didnt disturb him for the first 2 weeks he was here then tried to feed and nothing. a week later and nothing. a week later and nothing so on and so forth. I read that they should not lose more than 10% of their weight and he has gone from about 7 grams when I got him down to 5 today. He is active sometimes though and does like the cage and other times he burrows and disappears. It is turning to winter here but I keep lights and heat on for 12 hours and off 12 hours. I have tried cutting the pinkys in half and just doing that and heads and scenting which I was not too sure about but really only with tuna.
I cannot find chicken hearts anywhere out here and dont really want to scent anymore or use chicken hearts or anything but at this point he is losing weight and I am concerned. Like will hogs really just starve to death?
So what should I do about him eating/not eating? Should I change the substrate and leave pinkys in there overnight for him (I saw they can take a long time to eat overnight sometimes) Do you think I should try to get him into a smaller enclosure and let him acclimate? I am afraid that if I do that though he will be stressed again and then not eat for a long time again. I know they can go a while but he is so little and losing weight! Please help me or give me some tips. Thank you!!!
There’s definitely several things going on that are likely contributing to the lack of eating. Personally, four week old seems a bit early to have been sold. Most breeders wait until hatchlings are eating and gaining consistently, especially with hognoses as they have a reputation of being stubborn. Second, general advice, especially for inexperienced keepers, is you shouldn’t buy an animal eating live if you don’t have access to live feeders. It’s usually better to ask a breeder if they’d be willing to transition the baby to f/t before shipping to avoid issues like this in the future. Finally, that enclosure is far too large and sparsely decorated for a baby of that size to feel secure. To tiny babies, open spaces are prime chance to become food for something larger.
Some quick fix suggestions: A 7g hognose should be in something like a 6-15qt sterilite bin (cheap, easy to clean) with a few inches of Aspen. Two hides, water, and clutter covering almost every surface (cork bark, plants, etc). At that size, they’re going to be eating something like an extra small pinky, a fuzzy is far too big and depending on the size of the pinky, those may be, too. I’d see if there are any breeders near you willing to help out getting him switched to f/t, because it could be difficult. I suggest trying scenting with raw egg or salmon, they really seem to like those. You can also try feeding some scrambled egg with pinky parts mixed in.
You might’ve gotten off to a rocky start, but you’ve got this! Sometimes you just have to be more stubborn than the snake. I know right now it probably seems like more change is only going to make it worse, but you can’t really make him want to eat any less at this point.
Great help noodle. Thank you!
Anyone who has had a hognose long enough has dealt with the struggle of stubborn feeders, happy to help! Here’s an example photo of how I keep my young hognoses. I find this setup gives me the least amount of issues, even with the stubborn ones.
Hello @tpthompson0! You have gotten advice from the best of the best! Personally I would go with a 6 qt bin/tub as small as your hoggie is.
You can also stick a small toilet tissue roll in along with some fake greenery for extra coverage. I use shredded aspen as well. I am not a big fan of the coco hair/husk fiber.
A snake has to feel secure before it will eat because it feels defenseless when it is the process of eating a meal. So being a a small container will help a lot!
Even when though Tofu is losing a bit of weight hopefully once he feels safe and secure enough he will realize that’s it’s time to eat! If not there is always assist feeding but I am not sure how that works with a rear fanged snake. Hopefully it won’t advance to that stage……
Keep us updated @tpthompson0 and all the very best to you and Mr. Tofu! btw, love the name!
@noodlehaus has given you a lot of excellent advice, the only thing I will add is you can try sardine scent also. I had a couple hatchlings this year that refused salmon and tuna but went crazy for sardine.
Ugh it smells so bad but boy do the babies love it.
Awesome help! Thank you! I am working on getting him into a new set up today and then hopefully give him some time to adjust before trying to feed again. I have seen a few folks use paper towel rolls and pack them a bit which I did and he seems to like that spot. I have seen others put towel down and that way it leaves it nice clean little area outside a hide for them to come out to and grab food and take it back to the hide. Any thoughts on that. Im sure he will go for it if its as fishy as sardines though too!!! haha
I have Tofu in a new enclosure and I have already seen him moving about the cabin a few times. Hoping this works better for him. Thank you guys for helping/giving me tips. I am working on getting the temperatures correct for him and running the gauntlet with bulb sizes, distances, lid/no lid, heat pad temps etc. Hoping to get it regulated better with this smaller enclosure. The larger one I had down pretty well but this one is touchy. Yay hognose!
Seeing him out and about is a great sign, shows he’s acclimating himself to the new space and comfortable cruising around. That bin is looking absolutely awesome, I’m sure he’s gonna feel right at home in no time! I personally use whole room heat for my animals, so not as good at helping with heat issues. That said, I’d think a small heat mat on a thermostat would do well. You can use adhesive feet made for furniture to give you a good air gap under the bin so you don’t have issues with overheating. Probe for a thermostat would go between the mat and the bin itself on the outside (I use this setup for the two snakes I do have on heat due to their proximity to a draft).
Tofu’s new home looks great! Hopefully he will soon realize be is safe and sound and hungry. You’ve gotten such excellent advice, and it’s clear that you’re doing your best for your hoggie. I hope that he’ll soon be feeding for you.
Tofu doing better. He came in and out and has moved around his new place a bit. I am trying to give him a week or two of acclimating before I try to feed him again.
Good, good! Tofu sounds like he’s liking the new space, hopefully the next feeding attempt he’s hungry and interested!
Yes, that is the hope. Is there a best way you think to approach that situation? I want to leave a pinky in there for him, but I don’t want to scent but I also want to get something in his belly.
For the skittish ones, I usually stick the pinky halfway into a hide entrance (usually whichever they’re in). That way they can grab it from the shadows without having to expose themselves.
Okay, so I gave mr tofu about a week or so to acclimate to his new home and he has done very well. I have seen him moving around a lot and also finding nice places to hide. I thought it might be time to try and feed him. I thawed two pinkies and cut the head off of one and placed them on either side of the cage next to his hides. I left them out for 24 hours and I think, I THINK, he ate the head, but I am not home to check fully. My wife is home and checked and said she didnt think he ate anything but that maybe he ate the head. Im guessing no. I am hoping to let him chill for another 5-7 days and then try again.
Does this sound reasonable???
Sounds fine to me. As long as his body condition looks good and he’s still active, another week won’t hurt.