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Posted by oldherper on May 12, 2003 at 08:52:11:
In Reply to: Egg Bound Red Tail Boa posted by herpking on May 11, 2003 at 22:22:59:
Snakes normally don't get egg-bound on fertile eggs. The only difference between an egg-layer and a live-bearer is that the live-bearer essentially lays eggs that are ready to hatch. The protective shell is only a membrane in the live-bearer because the shell is not necessary since the egg is retained inside the female until hatching.
When a female has infertile eggs, infection will often set in. This can cause the eggs to adhere to the membranes lining the walls of the oviduct or uterus, causing egg-binding. This can be treated with surgery, or possibly antibiotics if caught early enough. Unfortunately, there are usually no outward symptoms until oviposition time. Perhaps this is a useful area of study, possibly to develop a convenient test or series of tests for gravid females to check for viability of the eggs (hormonal changes) and the presence of bacteria where the eggs aren't viable or the test is inconclusive.
Interestingly, egg-binding is apparently rare in the wild, because infertile eggs are rare in the wild. It would seem that it is possibly due to some aspect of the husbandry and breeding efforts not being quite what they needed to be to trigger high sperm counts in the males and thus successful fertilization. Maybe cooling periods (brumation) were not long enough or cool enough to trigger strong breeding responses and high sperm counts, or perhaps, in certain species, photoperiods weren't quite correct or some other stimulus was incorrect. You can get an idea of your chances for success by doing sperm counts on your males at breeding time, by either expressing semen from the male or from the female's cloaca shortly after breeding and examining microscopically for presence, number and health of live sperm. This is an area of ongoing study and still a developing science/art.
:I recently had a pregnant red tail boa die. The day before she died, I had noticed that she was "squeezing" her eggs as if she was trying to push them out. The only difference that I noticed was that a clear liquid was coming out of her that had a horrible smell. The next day i found her dead. I cut her open and revealed slugs that seamed to be septic. I was told that she was probably "egg bound". Is this a common occurance? What causes it? And what can I do to keep it from happening again? This was a very depressing experience.