Question for snake people: Is it possible for a snake to have a 99.9% full shed but have a still stuck shed underneath?
Context: New snake (to me) shed all but a tiny ring close to neck. Five days later, the ring is gone but he’s stiff as a board & starting to split dead skin from the same neck region but in a large continuous & noticeable layer of dead/damaged skin throughout his whole body except for his head that is clean. That’s way too soon for another shed cycle, especially since he has not fed between sheds.
The poor guy arrived essentially frozen as the seller covered him in direct contact with cold packs (other then thin reptile bag), so it may be a residual skin damage response?? I did not notice or look for this initially, as my only concern was whether he had indicators of basic life response & signs of essential activity & I’ve left him alone. I haven’t noticed a fresh head shed, but he’s in aspen bedding & has done a bit of burrowing so it could be buried - but my best guess is the head is clean from the shed 5 days ago that leaves what’s going on with the rest of his body in question.
I’m ok to help him with this weird shed, I think. I’ve put him in a small open container within his tub with warm moist paper towels that he’s cozied himself within & upped the humidity. Putting him in a shallow warm bath is a no go since he played dead with his head submerged. Uh? But if he still has the layer tomorrow night, I think I’ll try out Shed Ease?
A snake won’t shed off part of a shed (in thickness) and then shed off the rest later. It all comes off at the same time. Can you get a picture of the dead/damaged skin?
Cold can cause tissue death, essentially frostbite, and I’d be worried about his neurological health as well if the seller shipped him in direct contact like that… Do you have a vet to go to? THat is very worrying. It does sound almost as if there is tissue damage/a cold burn.
I agree with @athleticshoelace. This does not sound like a shed, and the fact that the snake is stiff and when you put him in a warm bath he did not put his head above water, a basic response that they should have to preserve their own life…You need a vet, immediately. These are signs of possible neurologic and tissue damage.
How long have you had him, in total?
I agree that you should have him looked at by a vet. The things you’re describing sound very abnormal, definitely not a normal, healthy shed. It could be that the way he was packaged for shipping could have done some damage. Have you contacted the seller?
I would definitely contact the seller all though most sellers only have a 48hr health guarantee at most and unless you told them about his Arrival and being covered in cold packs and not showing any signs of life then maybe they would be willing to refund some money for vet bills or if the animal passes away
Thanks, everyone. I didn’t think about neurological damage, but that may help explain some aspects of two snakes (I purchased 4) that are really off with standard behavior & floppy, clunky movement patterns. (The other two are hyper-responsive & have a suite of different disturbing/stressed indicators.) I appreciate the advice for a vet visit but it is unclear what could be done other than potential documentation & there’s only one non-specialist exotic vet in the region who couldn’t even handle sexing a yearling Cali king for me (he offered to take a blood sample & ship to a lab for DNA analysis but he never located a lab capable of that diagnostic & dropped the ball) and doesn’t inspire any confidence for something much more complex like possible brain damage.
I also appreciate the advice to communicate with the seller. That was a total lost cause and he only repeatedly confirmed that he abjectly refuses to adhere to bare minimal safety practices & I will be reporting him for violating MorphMarket ethics out of a moral obligation and genuine fear regarding the danger he poses to animal welfare. I received solid advice through private communications that I initiated with a trusted & kind community member on how to best proceed a few weeks ago & I completed compiling the section regarding the clear cut case of ethics violation then but have yet to submit the report.
How seller negligence impacted my snakes is a lot messier & I have not thought in terms of protecting myself financially as my mental health is a priority. I believe I owe MorphMarket a full account presented concisely when I do report but there is a ton of text to sift through & some points that deserve fuller clarification and when I revisit the seller communication thread for parsing, I am retraumatized by the whole sequence of events.
That’s not hyperbole, I’m mentally disabled with PTSD & even the vague recounting here right now has me trembling uncontrollably. This doesn’t mean I don’t think objectively or did not communicate dispassionately nor unprofessionally, I’m a trained scientist with several years of prestigious grant funded reptile behavior under my belt & other than gradually warming them up to 75 degrees over an 18 hour period that was evidently way too fast given how deeply cold they were, I think I did everything else correctly for the snakes. And no, that advice did not come from the seller who told me I must crank the heat up immediately to 85 & basically had an egomaniacal meltdown when I told him that could be lethal given their fragile state. Ack, but I digress…
How’s the snakey with his weird shed? He’s stayed in his small container for the past few days with moist paper towels that he could crawl out of at anytime as there is no lid. He still has the layer of dead skin on him, but I imagine that should come off pretty easy once it dries a bit and he does a rub against something. I’ve decided against Shed Ease, I don’t trust that he won’t ingest some or that it may get into his eyes. I’m also not in a wild hurry to remove him from the moist micro-environ just yet, I imagine that it may be soothing & I value his comfort & in no way strikes me as a danger to just let soak a bit, for now.
Honestly, it sounds like given the circumstance, you’re doing everything you can for this animal. To be frank, there’s no way that you could have warmed them incorrectly. Your description of how the animal arrived to you means any damage was likely already done by the time you even received the package, so please don’t be too hard on yourself here.
As for the snake, depending on how deeply frostbitten it is, you could be looking at just the beginning. I’d keep him in the moist environment, for sure, but change everything frequently for infection control. Also maybe give a little time to dry out now and again so you don’t end up with scale rot on top of things. If there is frostbite, it’s pretty much the same as a burn.
If there’s neurological damage (which would have been caused by the cold itself) there’s really no way to predict how things will go with this one. Just keep him comfortable, clean, and fed. You’re doing everything right, and I’m glad you are making sure the breeder is held accountable for his callous carelessness.
I’ll be cheering for his recovery, and I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience. Hopefully the little guy pulls through and ends up just being a quirky little noodle with a long, happy life.
Seconding noodlehaus. You’re doing great, and the harm here was done byt he seller, not you. It’s very possible the one having trouble shedding will make a full physical recovery, even if he and the others might be a little bit Quirky.
At least now they’re in your hands, and out of that guy’s hands. I think you’re doing everything a vet would probably tell you to do in these circumstances.
(I do know how much PTSD can absolutely ruin trying to deal with someone that awful. Mine isn’t yours, I know, but I feel for you. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.)
Take your slow and steady time with getting around to making a report, and know you’re making these animals’ lives better.
I second everything @noodlehaus and @athleticshoelace said. It sounds like you’re doing everything right, both in treating the snake and in trying to hold the seller accountable. I’m really sorry you’re having to deal with this, for both your sake and the animals’. I hope the seller faces some consequences, because it sounds like their behaviour is beyond unprofessional and outright abusive.
I do know there’s a link I’ve seen people posting about how to find reptile vets in your area …I don’t have it myself, but maybe someone could drop in and share it here? It’s possible that resource could help you find a more competent vet for your reptiles. That said, I’m not sure they could really do much for your poor snake than you’re already doing, but it would still be nice if you had access to a knowledgeable herp vet in the future.
None of these issues are because of anything you did. It sounds like you slowly warmed him up the right way, any injuries he sustained were due to the way he was packed, not anything you did. I hope he and the other animals you got from that awful seller pull through and are able to recover enough function to have a decent quality of life. I’ll be rooting for all of you.
That would be the Association of Reptile & Amphibian Veterinarians search page.
Thanks. Alas, I received zero results. It’s 200 miles for the closest listing but that’s doable in a pinch and it’s nice to have that info handy.
Yeah, the unfortunate reality is that exotics vets, especially qualified ones, are hard to find in many areas.
I’m so sorry the little ones had to go through that!
It’s a safer place now and as trying as it is for you, I’m glad that they’re in your hands now.
Something else to consider possibly…
Did they actually arrive with a heatpack? Because the other possibility to frostbite is a burn from the pack having shifted against that little one in shipping.
Your description sounds VERY similar to a snake I rescued with severe burns. a full line of exposed muscle down 2/3rds of his belly. I don’t know if it was a heat pack or a heat fixture the snake had been in contact with… He seemed fine day one and two, but immediately started shedding and when he did that was when the damage to the tissue underneath became apparent. Do expect a couple of shed cycles to come up much quicker than usual as part of the healing process. When offering food I tried to stay to much smaller meals than recommended to keep the skin from pulling or stretching uncomfortably.
I know you said the vet nearby had given you trouble before, but you may be able to ask for some silver sulfadiazine cream. It’s prescription only iirc, but it will be great at helping to heal the damage to the skin. It’s been used for frostbite and burns in humans. I used it for my rescue.
I also made sure to soak him gently once daily between applications to help keep the area from drying out too much and to rinse a bit of the cream from the day before away from the site for fresh application. Paper towels kept damp to again keep the area from frying out too quickly.
Oddly enough, my vet decided against any antibiotic injections, but another vet may still recommend it. Personally I do still recommend a proper vet’s eye would be best, but at the very least, I would give warm gentle soaks to try to keep the area as clean as possible through the healing process if nothing else is possible. If you could find a good reptile vet they could help to document your case as well if needed with the seller.
Good luck with them.
This is because frostbite is a burn. Just caused by cold instead of heat.
Well yes, but it seems odd that that’s the only snake with such severe frostbite in the group? Hence why I ask about a heat pack as well. If this shipper was using the wrong type of heat pack, say a handwarmer, then it would be much too hot for too short of a time which would then cause them all to chill while burning the one it was packed closest to, which is usually above the snakes as it’s taped to the top of the box. Where this snake is injured along the spine.
Extreme heat as well as cold can bring Neuro signs like the others are experiencing as well.
And because it is a burn(regardless of origin), that’s why I mention the treatment for mine as well.
I suppose because I was posting before bed I could have been more clear in wording and intent but I meant the severity of the injury sounding similar. While also bringing in other possibilities as well. It’s a lack of detail that came with sleepiness.
Thank you for bringing it up though so I could expand on the reasoning for my comment more!
I don’t know if it will shed more light on the issues with this breeder or the animal’s care at all.