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Q: Help, I think I have a constipated snake!
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Kaiya [#21]

I need help fast. I have a common boa constrictor. She's 8 yrs old and weighs about 33lbs. The last poop she had was Dec.24/17. I fed her a 440g rat Dec.31.

She never pooped or peed in January this year. I fed her next on Jan.28 a 385g rat. Her next bm was just urate(solid and liquid) onJan 7th, the usual amount for her. I never fed her in February or this month yet as she still hasn't gone poop. I have no access at all to a reptile vet. I've had her out 3 times in the last week(last time being today Mar.28) I've had her go up a set of stairs a couple days ago and when she was out today I tried to manually strip her underbelly with my hands and some mineral oil to try and move anything I could feel that was possibly a hard area. ( kind of hard to tell as she always tenses her muscles when I pick her up and she feels like soft steel at the best of times.) Should I go ahead and try feeding her again or should I just keep taking her out and making her exercize until she finally goes poop again?

I'm extremely worried about her so please someone help if you've had experience with this.

Thank you!

Points: 250
Topics: Digestive
Tags: Boas
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Assisted Answer 3/28/2018 11:23:47 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

What are the temps in her enclosure,  both hot spot and cool side? Have you tried soaking her or having her swim in the bathtub?

Assisted Answer 3/29/2018 1:56:16 AM


+1 for a good soak and a swim

Member Comment 3/29/2018 8:37:23 AM


I 3rd the above advice,

Member Comment 3/29/2018 11:02:47 PM


Yeah, Kaiya's getting a bit big to soak in a water bowl...and I do like the stair execrcise idea.. Warm soak and a swim never hurts and the first thing to try. From your pics maybe she a bit on the cool side if she is still in that aquarium (maybe a little dehydrated too). Double check your temps and humidity and give her some exercise, then try feeding her with smaller rats injected with water. They are not so active when theyre bigger so some excercise is important but dont stress her out too much. I think its very wise not to feed her if she hasnt pooped after two or three big meals. I had a boa who prolapsed a few years back so I am quite mindful now.

Author Comment 3/31/2018 8:25:48 AM


Sorry for the delay getting back to you all.It's early Sat.Mar.31st. I had a little bit of bm from her on Thursday Mar.30 but unfortunately it was just pee. There was a few clumps of solid urate to go with the liquid along with some small brown skid marks(no actual poop though).

She's been in the same 6 ft.cage for the last 5 years. I set a room heater to 78 degrees at night and anywhere from 80 to 82 degrees during the day. I used a temp gun the other day & the temp on the cooler side floor was 78 F and the warm side was 88 F. She has been on the warm side a lot this past week which is a little unusual for her. I'm thinking that she may have a shed coming soon even though she hasn't gone blue yet.(she has surprised me in that regard in the past) Her last one was Dec.20/17. 

I would love to try her in warm water but she absolutely hates water. I bought a small kiddee pool that I set up in the room and in the end I was the only one that ended up being soaked. 

Is mineral oil toxic to a snake? I love the idea of injecting a rat with water but I am afraid to feed her again until she poops. Do any of you think I should try feeding her again or am I right in not doing so? I plan on taking her out again today to try some more hand stroking on her belly.

Thank you to all who have responded so far. I am deeply greatful.

Member Comment 3/31/2018 11:26:14 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

I have had several Boas over the years not defecate for 2 to 3 months. I don't know why they like to hold onto it. Besides soaking... you could use s coveted tote, too, yo force her to stay in the water and soak, I have also had success by raising the temp. A couple degrees on each side of the cage. (A cool side of 80 to 82 and hot spot of 90F.) If she's going into a shed cycle, the defecation likely will come with the shed.

Member Comment 3/31/2018 11:27:00 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

*A covered tote*

Author Comment 4/2/2018 1:42:50 AM


Thanks for the covered tote idea Sonja. I might give that a go in a couple of days. I took her out yesterday and she climed up onto a 3 ft counter by herself. (no small feat when you are hauling close to 40lbs of body weight.) I let her stay out and explore the counter top for awhile as well as roam around the room. I'm hoping that might help move things along. I don't want to take her out too much and stress her out. She's not used to being out that often and she's been out a lot in the last week or 2. Do you think I should go ahead and try feeding her again?

Ratman, I like the idea of injecting a rat with water to help with hydration. Unlike one of my ball pythons that drinks for up to 2 or 3 minutes at a time, she's very secretive about her drinking in front of me. (I've only seen her do it a handful of times,mostly when I'm hiding behind something to watch her do it) Does it matter if I inject it in the muscles or under the skin? The smallest rat I have is 365g. Would that be ok given her size? ( I can only order frozen rats online, they are not for sale where I live}

Thank you again.

Assisted Answer 4/2/2018 10:01:42 AM


Like Sonia said if shes going into a shed cycle that will most likely be the time she finally relieves herself and they do tend to hold onto it like gold sometimes. I feed mine about about every 7/10 days but nothing too big and when they go they really go. Perhaps a higher fur to meat ratio since the rats are smaller, digested quicker and they get fed like clockwork more or less. They have rarley refused food even in  shed cycle but i feed mine with tongs, i dont leave the rats just lying around. I have to breed my own rats so the size of their meals is sometimes more to do with population (and smell) control than anything else, I dont have much space allowed to me in the freezer..my mother in law is constantly moaning about it. Its unfortunatley a case of love me love my dog just that i dont have a dog. Thankfully she wise enough not to give any ultimatums, probably because shes knows the answer...anyway my temps are similar exept a little warmer at the hot spot but they have about 70% humidity (partly due to the weather here but also because have 4 large heated aquariums with running water in the same room for my turtles). I dont need to go seaching when I spot clean them, I can smell somethings happened when I walk in their room!. Personally I really wouldnt worry too much, if she's passing some liquid she probably isnt so dehydrated afterall and just because you dont see her drink doesnt mean she isnt drinking but remember that humidity is as important for her as it for your BPs. Not sure that BCIs "hate" the water they are just a uncomforable at the beginning, they settle down. Thats why Sonias recommendation is the best one because Kaiya will relax faster, emphasis on the soak rather than swim. The water doesnt even need to cover her really. Lock her in a big (airated obviously) plastic storage container, with a towel in the corner, for a few hours or overnight if its warm enough. I personally think theres no harm feeding her the smallest rat you have, injected with water or not (and it dont matter where its injected). Nothing bigger than her belly, sorry I dont really go by weight. Oh, and please forget the mineral oil idea but do remember that what goes in comes out eventually! Shes a great looking animal, dont worry too much.

Author Comment 4/6/2018 4:01:03 AM


Hello again Ratman,Sonja,

I have another question regarding the soaking in a tote idea. Now that I've given her a few days to herself to chill for a bit, I'd like to pursue this. My issue now is even if I try to keep the heat up in their room, the water will cool off within 15 to 20 minutes of putting her in warm water. I don't want her getting chilled and then possibly sick from that. Should I try and put a heat mat under the tote? Should I try taking out cool water and adding more warm ever 10  minutes or so? More help please! (she hasn't shed yet,isn't blue at all and she's now been on the warm side for the last 3 or 4 days constantly which is very out of character for her. Even if she eats a big meal, she usually only stays on the warm side a few hrs or over night for a day or 2)

Thank you!

Member Comment 4/6/2018 4:31:43 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

A few to several hours of soaking at water that's room temp isn't gonna hurt her .

Member Comment 4/9/2018 11:47:52 AM


As Sonia said, a few hours at room temperature wont be a problem particularly if shes not eaten anything.

If shes spending an unusual amount of time at the warm end compared to normal this may imply that the cool end is a little too cool. Thats assuming she has the same kind and size of hide at both ends. If shes got a hide only at the warm end she might simply be trying to stay out of the way. You know her behaviour best. If she hasnt pooped (even just urates) in the next few weeks I would consider starting feeding her again. As i said earlier i feed mine every 10 days or so, sometimes every week and then give them break of maybe 3 or 4 weeks (often when I have no rats big enough). Important to note that even feeding them weekly they only poop about once a month. I am giving one a short soak tomorrow because she didnt shed the very tip of her tail. 

Assisted Answer 5/18/2018 9:34:46 AM


Instead of an outright soak, some folks in the GTP community use rain chambers. Granted it's much easier to do with a small GTP than a big boa. But basically the put snake in tub and use some kind of misting system, like the monsoons or even a bucket of warm water with stuff you can get at a plumbing or gardening supply store to pump the water, and let it gently spray their snakes. It simualtes a rain shower they would get in a natural environment. The folks that have done it see a BM within a few minutes typically. It's probably easier to do that with a GTP though because it would be on a perch above the water and not drown as the tub filled with water and when it goes, it won't be swimming in its own poo.

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