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Posted by EdK on April 19, 2003 at 09:52:21:
In Reply to: you heard the man, get your bullfrogs and greenforgs! posted by A.C. on April 18, 2003 at 22:27:00:
:You seem like an educated person, and in such should know that any valid study needs numbers!!!! You cannot base science on these few occasions or my small work with Heterodon. That didn't prove anything except that this guy was a great keeper. I wonder how many (if any) animals died in the process of trying to get them to switch to rodents?
":He also said that the animals he had were young I believe. Like I said, it seems that the young do well on it. Platyrhinos do well on a diet of mice as long as you start them young."
Actually I didn't give the ages of the animals but both were well established adults feeding solely on snakes. As adults both switched readily to unsecented rodents and set longevity records. I DID say that baby kings often did not do well when FORCE FED rodents. The Bronx Zoo has a long history of switching adult wild caught kings to rodents. They keep a soup stock made from snakes on hand and did the rodents in the stock to scent them and slowly wean them off the snakes. For early accounts of switching kings off snakes read Kauffields' The Keeper and the Kept (these were also adult wild caught kings).
":Get an adult king cobra or vine snake (or any other amphibian eater). See how long they last on a diet of mice when they were used to eating amphibs in the wild."
See above and are you refering to Oxybelis or one of the other vine snakes? Oxybelis does very well on a rodent only diet and will feed upon rodents and birds in the wild as well as lizards. The error most people make with this snake is that the food must be moving (other than that once they settled, the ones I worked with were easy to switch to only rodents, they didn't sie,they were given to another Zoo).
The problem with the idea that often arises is that in these cases there are no confirmations of the actual cause of death. It almost always follows this pattern, I switched the snake to mice and it died after eating a mouse therefore feeding mice to this kind of snake is bad... In your case the snakes were wild caught. Did you collect them yourself or were they purchased as wild caught? Did they die after the first meal or was it after several meals, was it after a fairly moderate or big meal? How close together were the meals? After death did you determine whether there were sufficent fat bodies to indicate that the snakes were in good nutritional heath through a necropsy? Rapid death after a meal can be caused by refeeding syndrome (see Donoghue, Susan; Langenberg, Julie; 1996, Nutrition, pp. 91-98 edited by Douglas Mader, In Reptile Medicine and Surgery, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia).
Were the snakes examined for viral infections as some of the viruses can have a short incubation period and rapidly cause death (such as rana or iridioviruses). As you can see from the point I'm trying to make here there are potentially multiple causes here that end up presenting the same symptoms (rapid death) that have nothing to actually do with the nutritional make up of the rodents.
The major mistake that many people make in trying to switch wild caught animals to other food items is that the animal has undergone severe stress in process resulting from capture to the buyer. The animals are often malnourished, harboring high parasite loads, possibly injured and or carrying bacterial/viral infections. These issues need to be resolved and animal needs to be stabalized prior to any other issues being dealt with unless there is no choice. Additionally, stress suppresses the immune system and can result in opportunistic infections of parasites, bacteria, and viruses. (see Warwick, Clifford, 1995, In Health and Welfare of Captive Reptiles, Edited by Warwick, Clifford; Frye, Fredric L.; Murphy, James B., Chapman & Hall, London). Stress can lead to a condition caused "maladaption syndrome" or "failure to thrive" which can have the same symptoms listed here.