Brumating a Yearling hognose who wont eat?

We recently obtained a male who is a year and a half old. He arrived to us, in my opinion, on the thin side (38 grams, approx. 15" long). We housed him in a shoebox rack system with belly heat (which is what he came from). We were told he “ate like a champ”. He ate his first meal without ANY issue, however he has stopped eating since then (approx. 6 weeks now). We did move him up to a slightly larger enclosure, however he had already stopped eating when we did this so I do not believe the enclosure change is an issue. He was getting quite long for a shoebox tub so I feel his tub now is an appropriate size. Anyway…

I understand many hogs will stop eating this time of year. My others are mostly still slamming their food without issue. My concern with him is that he is now down to 36 grams, and I do not feel he has a lot of wiggle room to loose weight or go long periods of time without eating. He is very lean with “loose skin” appearance when handled. He does not have that plump hoggie look. I have a male who is only slightly longer who weighs about 68 grams. We have taken him to the vet with a clean visual bill of health, however I have not had a stool sample for them to test since he isn’t eating. I am concerned that putting him in brumation would be risky since he is already thin. My question is, should I consider attempting to force feed some meals prior to any brumation? We have already tried braining, toad scenting, tuna scenting…My next step is to try live and also to try darkening the sides of his enclosure. When attempting to feed, he often gets very flighty and tries to escape through the sides of his tub (he is not used to being handled and gets a little stressed by interaction). However, he HAS shown interest in some pinkies, smelling them and even nudging them around with his face (I would’ve bet my life that he was going to feed on some occasions because of his interest, but then he just turns off and leaves it) Any input on brumation vs force feeding due to his weight would be appreciated

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His weight is a little bit concerning. I’m by no means an expert but I wouldn’t brumate him this year. I’d focus on getting him eating again and try next year.

Please don’t force feed him. It’s a stressful experience for any snake and may cause him to go off food for even longer. Have you tried fresh salmon or vienna sausage broth yet?

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I do not recommend force-feeding an animal that has eaten successfully in the past, unless the situation is dire. It also seems that your snake is not fit enough for brumation. It is never a good idea to brumate an animal that is underweight. I am facing the same issue with an adult KSB this year. She lost a lot of weight from breeding and hasn’t gained enough of it back yet for me to consider her ready for brumation.

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Yes, I completely agree, my thought process was wondering if he has stopped eating simply out of a natural brumation response, and maybe if I brumated for a SHORT period of time it may kick him back into feeding mode. I agree that I do not feel he is in the best shape for brumation. I am just at the point where, how thin is TOO thin…although he hasn’t gone an excessive amount of time without eating, he was underweight to begin with and I am concerned about him getting to the point of no return without intervention. :pensive:

Force feeding is not my go-to, however he does not have a lot of weight to afford losing. I will try the salmon, thank you for the suggestion!

Have you been weighing him regularly? How much weight has he actually lost compared to his original body weight? A pic would also help.

Purchase weight was 38 on sept 15. He was 36 last week and is 35 today. For comparison Here he is with a female I purchased at the same time who was 36 g on sept 15. She is now 45 g. I believe they are actually clutchmates. You’ll notice his loose skin when he leans his neck on the container in one picture. I mean he literally feels empty when I pick him up. Like a little tube of skin.

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He definitely looks underweight.

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Really really underweight. I see what you mean by loose skin, and that’s a bad sign. I wouldn’t risk brumating at all, even if it’s just for a little bit. He should be about twice that size I believe. Something I’ve seen people do is put them in a small dark deli cups over night with a scented rodent that they can eat, so they would basically crawl over it again and again until they decide to eat it. Have you tried that?

Thanks for taking the time to give me insight guys. I really appreciate it. Super frustrated because the vet said she “didn’t think he was that underweight” and I was like uhhhh… hard to know how to make a decision when the professionals are not helping at all. Which is why I’m at the point of, when do I start force feeding as an attempt to save his life?

I have not tried the deli cup thing. I will try that next with maybe a live pinky scented in tuna?? I tried fresh salmon today and he wasn’t interested at ALL in that.

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So I got my current hognose about a year ago, well started, ate like a champion the first 4 meals I offered to him. Then, he stopped (right after I’d bragged to someone about how good of an eater he was.)
He went on strike for 8 weeks, I tried tons of different things during that time - what finally worked was…
more than 2" of substrate in his enclosure, I took a shallow square Tupperware container and cut a hole in the top, submerged that in the substrate - you can see the top, there’s no substrate in the container. I put his food in there, just drop it in. He thinks he’s so sneaky finding that unsuspecting mouse. Now he goes in there when he’s hungry, pokes his head out and stares at me.
Good luck, I hope you can get him to eat!

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Also trying to balance giving him breaks in between attempts so I’m not stressing him. :sweat_smile: of course this was our big investment sable male so I am basically dying inside over this lol

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I like that idea. It’s like the deli cup thing but letting the snake feel like he did it on his own and he’s incredibly intelligent :joy::joy: did you have to feed live to get him going again?

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Nope! f/t pinky, no scenting or anything!

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have you tried tube feeding? As in, leaving the prey item in a length of PVC pipe, or toilet paper tube? Sardine scent? I’ve got one male that’s a PITA to get eating. If I open his bin in a manner that disrupts him enough that he notices, he’ll hiss, bluff strike and the idea of feeding him that day is over. I have to be stealthy about it, drop the mouse in w/out him noticing.

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I have not tried the tube method, I will do that as well, thank you! He is the same way… came to us not used to being handled so any interaction = stress