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Help Save a Life?

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Posted by Ameron on November 30, 1998 at 18:26:36:

I am desperately soliciting some insight from experienced persons in an attempt to save my Mexican Black Kingsnake who apparently has developed the same infection that destroyed my Desert King earlier this month. Here’s the background information:

1) Chain King Solomon
He was a terrific pet, about 45” long, with no signs of any infection. He got lost after 9 months and was replaced with the Desert King, whose terrarium setup was essentially the same, including paper pulp bedding. The only difference between his environment and Varda’s is that I had fed him only mice, no anole lizards. I let him out in my apartment often, and had him outside on many occasions. He always remained healthy.

2) Desert King Varda
Was about 22” long and about 7 months old when I got her home, after losing Solomon. Began varying her diet with anoles, along with the small mice. After a few weeks I noticed a skin rash on her head, a small spot that looked dry and scraped. Later I began noticing small areas of damaged scales farther down her body, mostly on the upper portion. Scales appear to have been sliced or punctured, and later look very dry and prune-like. It starts with just one or two affected scales, then spreads to adjacent areas.

At first damaged scales were on the upper sides, not the very top nor bottom. Later I saw them on the top also. I watched helplessly as they spread. I treated with Neosporin, iodine and anti-fungal cream. Nothing seemed to halt the condition. During most of this time, she showed no visible signs of discomfort, and ate vigorously.

I took her to a reptile vet who examined her under a microscope and was intrigued by the pattern of the damaged areas – at that time no top nor bottom scales were affected, only scales on the mid sides. He had no clue what the condition was, and recommended keeping the next shed skin and having it analyzed at a lab.

In the final stages, after about 2.5 months, she began shedding scales profusely, including bottom scales. She hid herself and stopped eating. When I placed her on the floor to test muscle coordination, she could barely move, with arthritis-like movement. I had to destroy her. I thought that I had sterilized her terrarium sufficiently, and immediately got the next snake as a replacement.

3) Mexican Black King Shadow
Was 15” long and about 6 months old when I got her home. After about 2 weeks, to my horror, she began exhibiting the same signs of skin damage, in much the same manner!! The damaged areas are on the top portion of her body; the middle and tail still have shiny, healthy scales. She had not eaten any anoles by the time I began noticing the scale damage, but one was in her terrarium for several days prior to the event.

She was either infected by a feeder anole, or somehow the infection remained in the terrarium. I have an appointment with another reptile vet in a few days, and am working quickly to find out the cause and provide a cure before I must destroy her, also. Meanwhile I have switched to Beta-Care bedding, and I will quit feeding anoles.

Have you seen these symptoms before? Do you have any idea what insidious infection has afflicted my (expensive!) pets, and what I can do to halt it??

Don Jacobson

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