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Q: My EBT refuses to eat! How can I help her?
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Hello all,
I have an emerald tree boa who is being difficult to feed. I got her from a web store called SnakesAtSunset.com and she arrived in an overnight fedex box. She appeared to be in good health when she arrived. She is docile and about as friendly as anyone could ever expect a snake to be. She is not aggressive at all. The only time she's ever struck at me was when I first took her out of the box but who could blame her for being pissed about being shipped in a box? When I called the store to ask some questions, they told me that she has been fed on a 2 week interval and that she had been fed that week. I offered her a live mouse when it was time to feed and eventaually she took, killed, and ate it. That was the first and last time she has taken food. I have had her about 5 months now. She is in her juvenile stage and is about 3 feet in length. I'd say that when she arrived, she had probably only recently changed to green from her neonate stage.

If someone chooses to respond to this question please first know the following: I do not need to hear opinions about my experience or lack thereof. Nor do I need to have someone give me the third degree for the decisions I have made for the health of my animal. What I need is information regarding how I can help her take on a healthy eating habit.

Now I will try to describe her cage. I made it out of an old aquatic tank and I intend for it to only last for her during her youth size. I plan to move her to a ExoTerra as needed. It is 16" tall, 12" wide, and 24" in length. I used some of those 3M Command wall hooks (it's actually called a Double Hook) and they mount to the cage glass with sticky tape. 2 of these are used to support 1 wooden rod, the rod is the length of the cage minus the thickness of glass and the hook mount, so about 22". This allows the rod to be taken out because the rod just lays inside the hook's V shaped double hook. Rod2 is made from an aluminum flag pole I sawed off. Within this aluminm rod I folded, twisted, and packed a ReptiCord inside of it. The heat output of this ReptiCord is controlled by a Lamp Dimmer which I found at Menard's. Basically the dimmer plugs into the wall and the Heated Perch Rod plugs into the Dimmer. The dimmer has a wired remote which has a slide which controls how much resistance will be applied to the heat cord. I have the resistor set to the lowest heat output possible. After I designed this, I cleaned it well and mounted it the same way as the other rod. Rod1 is towards the back half of the cage and is 6" from the cage floor. Rod2 is 3" higher than Rod1 and is on the front half of the cage. The substrate is simply a reptimat, green felt-like. Sorta like a pool table top. Her water dish is large enough for her to submerge in (although she doesn't ever do that.) It is positioned on the cage floor but not too far from the lower Rod so that she can reach it. She does go to her water when she wants it. I see her do it a couple times per week I'd say. For decoration and I have 2 rocks in there which do not have the capability of being knocked over and crushing her. On the outside of her cage sits her ReptiFogger. The hose is twist-tied to the Wire Mesh cage lid and I made a little plastic deflector to help aim the fog directly down into tha cage. I set two lamps onto the cag lid. One is a 100w blue incandesant bulb for light, the other is a ceramic heat element. I have a digital Thermo-Hygrometor with 2 probes fished down inside her cage. I try to keep her temps between 72-85F and humidity 60-85%. There is a small fake plant above the water dish to give a bit of shade.

She likes her heat rod. She goes to it when she wants to. She does not stay there all the time. I'd say this bar is warm to human touch so it's probably like 110F give or take. I keep her heat and light lamps sittig on the same side of her cage as her water. The other side of the cage is where she can cool off some. I take her out for exercise a couple times per week. Sometimes I let her climb up a plastic decorative tree which I have in my TV room. I sometimes drape her over the back of my neck and she will hold on and if I am wearing a baseball cap, she will go to the top of it and chill up there. She is really a calm and friendly snake. Sometimes I think she is too docile for her type. I would trade some hand bites for her to eat readily.

So I get worried that she wont eat so I have been force feeding her. I have read that this is not advised but I have done it with other boas and I just can't watch her starve. This round I have waited 3 weeks between feeds and she still does not seem iterested. Today she feels a bit less strong as she was a 2 weeks ago. I feel like she was holding on to my arm firmer then. If anyone cand help give me some ideas please share them with me. I tried to post this queston a few weeks ago but the website reset the submission form and I lost everything I had typed. Since then, my camera lense for my phone is malfunctioning. I am sorry about not having photos. Eventually I will have sme pics.

Points: 250
Topics: General Health , Feeding , Digestive
Tags: Boa, Eat, Emerald, Food, Refusal, Refusedfood, Tree, Wont
Species: Boas > Arboreal Boas > Corallus caninus
Administrative: Show/Hide

Member Comment 11/9/2017 9:40:17 AM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Have you tried birds? Quail or chicks?

Author Comment 11/9/2017 9:11:25 PM


No I haven't tried anything ut mice and rat pups. I am under the impression that bird beaks aren't great for digestion from reading that somewhere. Also I wouldn't know where to get those from.

Member Comment 11/9/2017 9:27:20 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Both can be ordered from Rodent Pro,  and I am sure there are probably other plaves, posdobly at a reptile show, too. E TBs are bird eaters by nature. Many people feed a mixed diet that includes birds. Even with a few of my Liasis babies, and Carpet Python babies I have had to at least thaw a mouse with a bird to get them eating. Imported Amazon Tree Boas were another.  A friend of mine here in Minnesota,  that is also on iHerp (cainescolumbians) has ETBs and one of his would only eat chicks for quite some time but has since switched to rats. 

1 day chicks I think are close to a weaned rat, 1 day quail lile a mouse hopper. They come in a variety of sizes.

That's what I would try first.

Member Comment 11/9/2017 9:28:09 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Sorry for the errors, on my phone.

Member Comment 11/10/2017 10:09:33 AM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Do you have a temp. gun? If that heated perch is indeed 110F, there's potential for belly burns. 

Member Comment 11/11/2017 5:33:45 PM


I agree with all of the above. 

Also, can you upload some pics of her enclosure? You stated everything very well but pics are louder than words! Smile

Author Comment 11/22/2017 5:02:40 AM


I took her to the reptile show this past weekend and asked around a bit. The advise I got was mostly about temp.... obviously. Seems that is what everoy temds to think right away. Howeve I told them that my temps are pretty decent and I keep rather high humidity. As the colder months are coming on, I have put a blanked over top of her enclosure to keep in the heat. Right now is 3:30AM and her cage was just at 70F so I pulled the blanket to cover a bit more of the mesh top. Humitity was at 99% so I turned the humidifier off for a while. Oddly, when I laid down for sleep around midnight she was at her bowl lapping water with her tongue like a dog does. I've seen her do this before so assumed it's just how she drinks. I've ssen her do this before. However, I've seen other snakes drink and they usually stick the tip of their mouth to the water and I could see muscle movements around their throat and jaw hinge working to pull water in. The time is now, as said, 3:30am and I woke up and checked on her and she is STILL lapping at water. She is on her lower, non heated, wooden perch and looped around it with her her head/neck extended to the water container. I've never seen her drink that long and she always has clean water available. I kinda figure she knows what she's doing so I'm letting her go at it.

As for the advise I got, her enclosure can reach low 90s if I keep it covered. I bought a exoterra 300w thermostat which I haven't yet installed because I'm planning to get a higher wattage ceramic heat element (bulb) to install in the downward radiating heat source. The heat element I have now is 75watt. One breeder, who also builds and sells heated breeding rack style housing self containers. He told me that the heat should stay above 90F. I don't know If that is correct, and he didn't specify about night time temps. I always read that a night temp should be arond 10 or so degrees cooler which usually happens by turning off the light.

Another tip I got was to try putting tuna water onto the next mouse. She doesn't usually show interest in dead mice so I offer live first if that doesn't work I kill it and try that (I don't breed or keep mice, I hate the smell of them). If that doesn't work I freeze it and try again a week later with the frozen thawed. If that fails I have been force feeding. And the reason I'd been doing that is because I worry about her getting too weak and then it becoming Too Late. The rack mount guy said he's had these before and always keeps his at 90F. He told me he thinks she is "a little thin" and "looking a little A-Framed." However, I don't know how relevant this is but I've seen this guy at a previous show, 2 or 3 shows ago, back then I noticed this guy looked like he takes "Oxy" or some type of stong opioid and he looked the same way this last weekend too. I don't judge but I thought that was worth taking into consideration. His wife and snake breeding partner held my snake and she said she seemed in ok health but also said she may be on the thin side. But I really have read that these snakes aren't supposed to be as round as your garden variety ball or red tail boa. Their digesive tracks are much slower also.

......At this moment, she's gone back up to her perch 3:52 and I watched her hold her head up at a 60degree angle as though to make water go down or something... and then she yawned a little bit. I just walked over there to look at her and she saw me. I backed away and from a distance it appears that she is going to her usual spot on her wooden perch. She is in fact entering Shed. On sunday her eyes were beginning to go blue. Today is Wed. I can't see the color of the eyes now because it's too dark and I don't want to disturb.

Another trick I was told was that maybe I should get some of those Scenary lamenated terarium picture backings and block off three of the four sides of her enclosure to reduse how much she feels vunerable. Was suggested that she could be stressed and covering those sides would help make it so she only needs to worry about the one side where people can see in. Although I live alone. I will look into what I can find for that.

As for the photos..... I did say up there that my cam is busted. However I do have some old pics that I could dig out of my storage devices somewhere. However I would like to post new pics, when I get a new phone, since I will probably be making some environment changes soon. I also found some fake vines which I may wrap around some of her perches to add to my current fake plant that is in there. Someone suggested give her more plants to hide in. I do sorta feel like she is just going to get tangled  up in that when I want to move her.

Anyway, I'll keep updating, I need to lay back down. I just had been struck with a bit of insomnia and then some worry about what she was doing. The multiple hours of licking up water is what prompted me to look at this post while awake this am. Thanks

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