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Madagascarophis update

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Posted by ET on May 09, 2003 at 11:21:51:

Just wanted to say that these guys are awesome. I recently bought a pair and asked some general questions here. They were sold as M. colubrina but after some taxonomic research (Thanks Chris!) they appear to be M. occelatus. Still having a very hard time locating any decent info on them, so I thought I would post what i have learned about them in the last few weeks in case anybody else is having the same problems.
1) Mine seem to do much better in higher humidity. They stay hidden under the substrate all day and as soon as the light go out they start prowling. If the cage is misted at this time they seem to be much more active. If it is dry they just come out and sit around. With the humidity increased they actually crawl around and stay out alot longer.
2) I initially kept one side of the cage about 88-90 degrees, and one side stayed at about 80 during the day. They don't seem too fond of the higher temps. They always seemed to be on the cool side, so I put a lower wattage bulb in the light and now they seem pretty content. I would not suggest temps over 90 degrees, and I would make sure they had a nice cool area to go to at all times.
3) I had a hard time getting the male to feed at first. After the temp change he started feeding but only after I tease fed him. Now he eats fine all by himself. To get him started I just gently smacked his nose a couple times with a pinkie and made him real mad, then when he struck I froze and he ate with no trouble. Now he is a pig. The female has always been a pig. So if you have trouble feeders, tease feeding should help. The metabolism on these guys is incredible. They digest very fast, and start prowling for food only a day or so after a meal. Be prepared to feed a couple times a week to maintain good body weight. They also seem capable of taking very large meals for their size.
4) They seem pretty quick to bite so be careful. I had heard that they were docile and easy to hold but mine are ALWAYS grouchy. They have a long strike range and mine have actually "thrown" their bodies across the cage while striking at me. The saliva seems pretty toxic, at least to the pinkies I have been feeding them. I normally feed thawed pinks but I wanted to see the effect of the toxin on live ones. They strike fast and immediately move the rear fangs into place. The pinkies squirm for a few seconds and then stop pretty quickly. They continue to twitch while they are being eaten but from the looks of it it is only a nerve reaction. Last night my male ate one that was a little older and the toxin seemed to take a little longer. He actually chewed until the saliva had made a froth on the pink. As he ate it I noticed that the whole pink was wet with saliva. I would say that a full bite from an adult could be a little distressing. I would not like to be bitten. I also have seen the rear fangs as they chew and position the pinks for swallowing and they are quite large for such small snakes. Adults would be quite capable of envenomating a person due to the short faces and wide gape characteristic of many opistoglyphs.
5) They do not ride hooks very well at all! Get a glove and gently move them. Forget about a cage hook.
And finally I just want to say that these guys have huge potential in my opinion. They seem to be wonderful snakes to work with and I feel that alot of other herpers would be happy with them. If anybody has anything to add or any corrections to suggest please feel free to do so. The only way we can learn more about little known herps is to share our info with each other. I have only had a few weeks with these guys but I wanted to share what I have learned so that maybe we can start building a captive care plan for them. I will share other info as I learn it and hopefully we can learn more about them in the future. Please add to this post!

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