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Q: Any ideas what would cause this? Baby boa with "collapsed" neck
Posted By:

Katie M

So, Esther was recently returned to me by her owner, after 3 weeks of not eating for him.  Esther is from the litter that euthansia was recommended for, and she appears to be the first one of the group potentially needing this.  I don't recall if her neck looked this way prior to sale, but I would have thought I'd have noticed this before.  I'm concerned that the condition of her neck will leave her unable to eat/swallow prey, therefore lending the question of quality of life.  What would you do in this situation?

Points: 250
Topics: General Health , Digestive , Skeletal
Tags: Boa, Injury, Neck
Administrative: Show/Hide

Member Comment 6/26/2009 7:04:36 AM

Not gonna rule out a birth defect but just me personally I've had thousands of snakes come my way and the only time I've seen a snake look like that was a couple ball pythons someone had left in the read window of their car on a hot day.
Member Comment 6/26/2009 7:16:37 AM

Oh to answer the question what would you do.  I'd give it some water see if it drinks,  if it drinks it can swallow then try to feed it it may actually eat for you maybe wait a week or two.  The ball pythons I saw that looked similar to that though a little worse the cause was sudden and severe dehydration or atleast that's what the vet said and it makes sense.
Member Comment 6/26/2009 10:55:21 AM

One of my babies looked like that before it finished sucking off its yolk sac. Somehow i dont think this is the same thing though. I dont remember her looking like that after she was born though. Maybe it is dehydration as was suggested by GF?

How was her keeper keeping her? She did eat for you, right?
Author Comment 6/26/2009 11:19:20 AM

Katie M
at 8 weeks old, I doubt she's still working on her yolk sac too.... I don't recall this look either, and I don't think it's dehydration, as she's urinated twice for me since I got her back on Wednesday... 

her keeper had her in a 20 long with UTH, ceramic heat lamp, fogger, aspen, climbing sticks, aspen, and I don't know too much about hides.  She ate for me once here, and has not eaten since.  the new owner offered quite frequently, sometimes a live rat pink at night, and a live mouse hopper in the morning, leaving the prey to die before he'd bug her again.... so.... I have no clue
Accepted Answer 6/26/2009 11:21:20 AM

Could it be just a sign of weight loss? Maybe some force feeding (gasp!) is in order?
Author Comment 6/26/2009 11:39:53 AM

Katie M
with the neck looking like it does, I would worry about force feeding causing further injury?
Member Comment 6/26/2009 11:41:22 AM

Maybe a pinky press and a feeding tube? A couple feedings could feasably put some weight back on her so you can get her eating whole food again.
Author Comment 6/26/2009 11:43:09 AM

Katie M
I've been force feeding Bulldogge, Peirce and Bliss, so I have no problem with that... just a matter of not knowing how extensive this "collapse" thing is, I don't want to kill her in the process of forcefeeding if things aren't properly aligned? If it's injury, than force feeding any sized prey passed that site could cause further damage, infection, etc....
Member Comment 6/26/2009 11:44:52 AM

Not even a small feeding tube? There has to be something you can do.
Author Comment 6/26/2009 11:47:15 AM

Katie M
If it's an actual TEAR in the anatomy of the neck, putting anything with food or substance can lead to a bacterial infection in no time... that's my fear.  Dr. Maas isn't in till Monday, so until then, I'm not going to try force feeding - she's only down 3 grams since her last weight check 3 weeks ago...
Assisted Answer 6/26/2009 12:49:55 PM

If the animal isn't capable of being tubefed or forcefed, you can let it starve or humanely euthanize it....I know which I'd prefer if I was in the snake's position.
Author Comment 6/26/2009 1:03:48 PM

Katie M
Yeah, I'm already leaning towards euthanasia, but for the moment, I am not the "owner" of the snake, as I haven't gotten permission from the buyer to have the bird returned and a reimbursement made to him.  I have no idea how or when this happened, so I've told him I'll "buy back" the snake, at which point I'll have it into a vet.  I certainly won't let it starve to death - I'm just not sure tubefeeding or forcefeeding will work in the long run without any idea as to what caused this to happen.  So, time shall tell I suppose  (time to hear back from her owner, and time until I can then get her into the vet)
Author Comment 6/26/2009 1:05:14 PM

Katie M
crap - snake, not bird.  I just released a sparrow back outside (it was injured by a neighborhood cat)... so, bird on the brain too
Member Comment 6/26/2009 1:49:55 PM

I can tell you that's not a tear in the lining of the esophagus if that's what you're thinking.  Has the snake drank anything for you yet?  If it's drinkign for you wait it out the snake isn't in any sort of pain most likely if it's moving like normal and drinking and see if it sorts itself out.  The fact it peed doesn't mean too terribly much and if it ate for you the esophogus isn't damaged atleast certainly by no fault of your own.

Nothin for nothin here on this note but why would you put a fogger in a tank that's covered in aspen?  That just seems like it would cause a mush and in that case I guess the snake could have ingested a fair amount of sticky aspen but I kinda doubt that would be the culprit.
Author Comment 6/26/2009 2:09:42 PM

Katie M
He was worried that the reason she wasn't eating was because he didn't have conditions up to par, so he hooked up a fogger he used on his BRB when he still had her.  He was trying to get her to ideal humidity requirements in case that's why she wasn't eating for him.  The last time she ate for me was over 3 weeks ago, before she went to her new home.  So, again, not knowing if the neck already looked like that, I have no idea for sure whether it will or won't impede her ability to eat in the future.  As far as seeing if she drinks, I use a rack system, so I haven't actually observed her drink, but the fact that she's producing urates has to mean something - plus I'm misting her daily. 
Member Comment 6/26/2009 2:18:27 PM

I've seen some seriously jacked up animals produce urates but I guess it could be a pneumothorax or tracheal tear of some sort but in that case it was caused by blunt trauma and most likely not your fault and they would have known they did something or perhaps a child of their or something did.  It also could possibly be a tension pneumothorax but again that would eb a long  shot that somethign is all of the sudden obstructing a lunch without trauma.  Watch the snake fairly closesly see how it's acting if it's acting irradic or in pain it's a pneumothorax if it's acting like any other boa baby you have then it's most likely not and you'd probably be safe observing it for a few days.
Assisted Answer 6/26/2009 6:45:25 PM

Hi all,
 I am the owner of Esther. I returned her to Katie because she had NO interest in food at all, given optimal contitions, ie, hot end temp at 90 ish, cool end about 80. I kept it at about 65% humidity via a repti fogger hooked to an electronic controller. There are 2 hides, as well as numerous branches and fake greenery in the tank. There was no UTH, but there was a CHE keeping temps steady. She was never left in the window of a car, she was never harmed by a well meaning child as my child never got a chance to handle her because she, (Esther) was so small. There was a water bowl in her tank, she drank from it as normal.  

 Given the worries over Esther, I think it best if I give you full authority to do whatever you think is best. I will give you a call and work out the details on a replacement from Hope's clutch as we discussed the other day. I am truly amazed at your integrity throughout this deal!
Author Comment 6/26/2009 6:58:44 PM

Katie M
Thank you so much Bill, I will get her in first thing Monday - I fear that she won't be coming home with me... I'm so devestated.  We will definitely talk soon
Member Comment 6/26/2009 7:20:04 PM

Hey Katie, It's all good. She is a cool little snake, but I think she has some problems that are too big to overcome. Don't feel bad, you did everything you could.
Member Comment 6/30/2009 10:58:57 AM

Any word on what the cause was?
Author Comment 7/1/2009 5:29:49 PM

Katie M
An Update:
So, I took her to the vet on Monday, and it appears that the "collapsed neck" was infact a sign of lost muscle mass/body fat.  It's unusual for it to present unilaterally, but it appears that is the cause regardless.  The vet has recommended forcefeeding small prey items every 3-5 days until it's gone, and then start offering live prey again. So, she's gonna make it!! yay!!
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