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Posted by D.S. on May 06, 2003 at 15:38:51:
In Reply to: Andrew and anyone else... (Beware, Disturbing PIC) posted by KelliH on May 06, 2003 at 00:12:54:
I'm very sorry to see this Kelli.
How do you heat your cages? I personally believe the idea of thermoregulation of gravid females is a flawed concept. Many breeders believe that when they see the gravid females constantly moving back and fourth from the cool side to the warm side of the cage that it is a good sign. In fact, they are on the constant move because NEITHER of those temperatures are optimal for fetus development. In most cases the hot spot is to hot and the cool end to cool. This constant moving from one side of the cage to the other trying to locate the right temperature is not good for females that are trying to rest and develop their young and can be the cause of premature births. Also, sitting on the hot spot shortly after ovulation can heat the newly fertilized ova to fatal temperatures. I believe this is why we see so many slugs in captive bred boas. I have noticed that most slugs are in fact fertilized ova (including the ones I see in your photo) that perished very early in their development...this is proof to me that we are doing something wrong as keepers. Some people believe lack of water intake shortly before and after ovulation is responsible for the early death of fertilized ova and the cause of slugs..I believe however it is simply the way gravid boas are heated in captivity.
The first time I bred boas (1982) I knew next to nothing about how to care for gravid females. I live in the low desert area of S. California where the springs and summers are VERY hot. Unlike most people my goal during this time is to try and keep my boas from over-heating while most are tying to keep their boas warm enough. Anyway, the first time I bred boas it was very hot so there was no extra heat at all in my females cage for the entire four months of her pregnancy. Ambient temps ranged from 84 to 90 in her cage the whole time. For the entire four months she barely moved at all except to get an occasional drink of water. She had 26 fully developed babies and two yellow slugs. This was all the proof I needed that extra "belly heat" and thermoregulation was not needed if gravid boas are kept at optimum ambient temps. In the winter I keep my boas warm by using space heaters and warming the entire room. There are no cage heaters like flex watt or heat bulbs at all. In the summer they are kept at the right temps by the use of a water cooler (swamp cooler.) There are no artificial lights at all in my snake rooms. The only light they ever get is through two large windows. The natural reduced light cycle (and slightly reduced temps) in the fall and the switch from the very humid swamp cooler to the dry space heaters is all that is needed to breed Col. boas. This has been what works best for me. YMMV. Again, very sorry to see this...I wish you better luck in the future.