Hello all, I’m just posting here to see what some of the more seasoned breeders would do in this situation. I’ve been breeding ball pythons for a few years now and up till now have had somehow amazing luck as far as eggs and hatchouts go, no slugs, no hatch issues or anything, well, this last clutch of 10 good eggs, one hatched out with a pretty bad kink in its neck just behind its head. Crazy thing is it still eats and gets around find, but its a pretty bad kink that will obviously make it not worth anything, and it could cause serious problems down the road. Should i consider humanely putting it down, or wait and see if it can survive with the kink? I just wouldnt want it suffering if things get worse for it. It does cause it some mobility issues as it seems to be throwing his balance and such off as it tries to move around. But again, it can eat so far its had 5 meals no real problem. Thanks for any input, sucks, but i guess when you start breeding this kinda thing happens eventually…
Honestly, I would give it a chance. You’ll just need to find someone who understands they need patience when feeding and will need to possibly stick to smaller meals more often.
I have a male in my collection that has a kink a few vertebrae down from the head and he’s thriving now at a year and a half. I just have to be mindful when prepping for mealtime that he gets a smaller meal than my others in that rack.
That said… the breeder I got this male from had a nasty incubator fail and a couple clutches were lost or kinked. We did discuss a female albino that they hatched and we did both decide it would be better to humanely euthanize her as a hatchling. She was eating small meals and digesting them well…but she had a massive kink about 3/4ths down and we both decided the risks if she ever ovulated and could have had a partho clutch or even just slugs was too much of a risk down the line.
Do you have a picture of the hatchling? I think one thing people often don’t talk about is quality of life in terms of discomfort. Reptiles, like many animals, are very good at hiding pain and discomfort because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t survive in the wild. If an animal has a large kink, there’s no way to know if there are also pinched nerves, muscle strain, etc. with that kink that could be causing constant discomfort. Additionally, if there is a kink in the spine, there’s no way to know what else could be wrong (organs developed improperly, other spinal deformities that aren’t as visible, etc.)
Not by any means saying the best option is definitely to euthanize, but if the kink causes mobility issues, I think it’s worth serious consideration of what the animal’s quality of life would actually be long term. And that’s not a question we can answer for you - everyone has a different standard for and tolerance of QOL issues. I tend to err on the side of caution, as I’ve long said that just because an animal in the hobby eats, poops, and breeds, doesn’t mean it isn’t experiencing pain or discomfort.
I have luckily not had to deal with physical deformities yet, but this year an animal in my first clutch has neurological issues despite there being no neuro genes in the pairing. It’s only one animal, but she corkscrews in her tub, and I don’t breed neuro genes specifically because I do not feel that the animals have a solid chance at good QOL, so watching her corkscrew kills me. I will continue to evaluate, and if I can figure out how to reduce the symptoms then I will find her a pet only home prepared to deal with the issues, and if it stays this severe I may have to consider euthanization, as I personally do not feel that animals with severe neurological issues can live with a good QOL. So all of this to say, it’s an individual thing and no one can make that decision for you.
If you’re in the ball python hobby/business for long enough, you’ll eventually purchase a kingsnake. It sounds like the kink in your snake is severe enough that, if it were me, I’d probably feed it off to my female California kingsnake, who I keep just for this reason. Minor kinks I rehome to good folks, but major kinks (with angles greater than 15 degrees) I simply feed off.
Culling is just a part of animal breeding. I do the same with other livestock (chickens, ducks, etc.). It sucks but as folks have said above, quality of life issues should definitely be considered. You definitely don’t want to prolong suffering.
I personally think euthanizing at this point is not ethical at all, no question. If suffering becomes apparent, that will change. Euthanizing something just because it’s disabled or not worth money is unethical in my view. (I’m not referring to prey animals, that’s totally different.)
I have a leopard gecko with vestibular problems, and she has some muscle atrophy and needs assistance with feeding. But she scoots around all over her enclosure, naps, and will curl up in my hand and snooze. She only seems stressed when I’m syringe-feeding her when she’s refusing food due to breeding season discomfort. She’s 17 years old, but doing fine. The ‘doing fine’ part is what matters when assessing quality of life. Animals like my gecko and your kinked baby just need homes that will accommodate them. The new owner will also have more time with the snake, so they may be able to better assess whether it is suffering.
Obviously, rehome as ‘Pet Only.’ If you don’t have the time to find a forever home/understanding owner, there are many reptile rescues that could potentially adopt it out, either directly or via you as the ‘foster’ home.
I’m a retired veterinarian (if you’ve heard that before, I apologize, I have unpredictable memory issues). Pet owners are often unsure how to know if/when euthanasia is warranted. One of the guidelines I would share was, ‘when in doubt, do not euthanize.’ There’s much more info I’d share with them, but that idea has stayed with me the most. Kind of like, ‘incubate until there’s no debate,’ it’s ‘when you’re genuinely unsure, do not euthanize.’ A lot less catchy though, hehe. Any suggestions to make it catchier?
Just wanted to give my 2¢.
I had a baby hatch out with a small kink behind his head, and sold him as pet only at a discounted price.
He eats just fine when given smaller meals and sometimes needs assistance shedding, but as far as I know he’s been doing very well with his owner.
I totally agree with @mblaney. The little guy imo deserves a chance to go to a loving home instead of being euthanized, or even worse imo, being fed off to another snake.