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Vaughn's Story - A Tale of Recovery

Posted by Sonja K. at 11/18/2013 11:32:29 PM

It was 3 months ago today, August 18th, that I went to check on my little male Rubber Boa, Vaughn,  to see if he had shed off yet so I would know whether to thaw him a meal - he never eats during his shed cycle - and I found him still in shed and his mouth jam packed with substrate. He was being kept at room temperature (~ 78F) on Eco-Earth, which was nothing new. I had housed him on it since Oct. 2011 when he came to me. This was also not due to ingesting while eating as he hadn't eaten for approx. 3 weeks. (He had refused his previous offering because he was in shed.) How this occured I'm not sure, but his mouth was sure a mess as a result of it. I honestly thought it would take a miracle for him to recover.

I did not get a pic of what his mouth looked like with it full of eco-earth, but these are from after flushing out  what I could. He is still a litttle bugger. He was approximately 24 grams at the time this happened.

Aug. 18th, after flushing his mouth using a syringe filled with water:


Being his mouth was so swollen that he was unable to close it, I decided to set him up on saturated paper towels and to also place him in a shoebox bin within my hatchling rack to give him access to a hot spot of ~ 87F.

He whipped around a bit and then rested like this in the corner of the bin. This was a fairly common position that I found him in.

As you may have noted, there still looked to be something in his throat. The next morning, this is how I found him and what the bin looked like:

All the brown is eco-earth that he got up overnight. Over the course of the next few days, he continued to get up what looked like small capsules of eco-earth. I change the paper towels morning and night and continued to keep him on the saturated paper towels in the baby rack. I also placed an order for Reptaid.

This is what he looked like approx. 24 hours after I had discovered him with his mouth filled with the eco-earth.

He shed off on the 22nd.

Aug. 27th... He still has a ways to go...

He entered very quickly into another shed cycle. I continued to examine his mouth and clean as needed. On Sept. 8th the first sign of actual infection showed up. I cleaned this out and began doses of Reptaid. I also placed the top of a deli cup in the bin to give him an easily accessible water source.

9/28 The brightness / spark seemed to be coming back in his eyes.

He shed again on 10/13 and he took a meal on 10/17!

He has had 3 meals now - of course refused during another shed at the beginning of November, but I am so excited of how well he has come back. I truly feared he wouldn't make it. He is currently at 22 grams, so almost back to the weight he was, too.

Pictures from tonight:

All too often odd things happen and we aren't able to save them, but when you do, boy is it a wonderful feeling!




 Comments: View Oldest First  

Michael ,
Posted At: 11/18/2013 11:49:38 PM  

Great Save !!! 

Jeanie Otten,
Posted At: 11/18/2013 11:53:48 PM  

Oh congrats Sonja!  He looked pretty rough there for a while, but I'm really glad he is perking up now.  What a cutie.

Posted At: 11/19/2013 12:03:36 AM  

aww poor Vaughn (you'll have to tell me where you came up with that name). It sounds like he had a rough trip but I'm happy to see you were able to pull him through it safely. Poor fellas eyes even were blood shot in the photos 24 hours after you found him. I seen people open snakes mouth during check up's & stuff with just a slight tug under the chin, I wonder if he accidently got the eco-earth in his mouth while trying to rub the old skin off.

I heard good stories & bad about that eco-earth but did learn I should pick up some reptaid just to have on hand incase I ever need it. I'm guessing that what put a stop to the infection. I seen you said you started on sept 8 & was just curious when & if you stopped using it? what actually is the 8th photo up, is that part of the infection that was stuck or a peice of paper towl from sliding around with his mouth swollen open?

You already know I think you should wear a big S on your shirt cause your my hero but I'll say it again, you seriously do rock!

Sonja K. ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 12:35:07 AM  

Thanks guys! Like I said, often - especially with little ones - when something goes wrong they just don't make it... but Vaughn has come back and I am so glad I was able to help him.

Chris - I've always liked it and Vaughn is a Welsh name that means "little", so it was fitting - nothing more. Why?

I gave him 4 or 5 doses only - every 2-3 days I think. I put it straight into the back of his mouth since his mouth was too inflamed to eat. If the animal is eating, I would inject into the rodent and then feed. The Reptaid comes in two formulas. The regular one is for smaller snakes. For larger ones, you'd want to get Reptaid XL. After I gave it to him, I placed him in the deli lid and he'd start drinking - perhaps to wash the taste down ??

In that photo - it is a chunk of the white stuff / infection pulled out from his mouth. I used a rounded tip tweezer sterilized with alcohol to pull the pieces out and then flushed the mouth after with water and then gave the Reptaid.

Posted At: 11/19/2013 12:53:42 AM  

Thanks for the updates, good to know. I guess the reptaid has instructions I probably could of just checked or looked up too rather then bugging you about it.

I was just curious, it's a name just seemed unusual for a snake. I thought it could be just a neat name but kind of figured it had some extra meaning but was clueless to what it was until you just said it. Learn something new every day. Thanks again for posting, it's a great story & I'm happy it worked out the way it did. He's a tough little guy.

Bethany ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 12:58:55 AM  

Wow, poor lil' guy! But he couldn't have been in better hands! That's great he healed so well! Kudos to you Sonja!!

The Shammernator ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 2:02:59 AM  
Wow. I one had a similar thing happen with a gray banded king. Literally just one day it's mouth BLEW UP like that. But without the substrate. It took a few weeks but I was able to bring that snake back around to a full recovery as well! :) good save!

Mystic Exotics ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 2:23:35 AM  

Awe, poor little guy! I'm glad to hear he's doing so much better!

Abby McDufford,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 4:37:50 AM  

He is so cute, love his little face! Glad he's turned around, hopefully that doesn't happen again.

Sonja ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 7:25:58 AM  

Poor little dude!  Great job fixing him up!

George H. Wessel VII,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 9:15:09 AM  

Awesome job Sonja!

Lauren ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 9:15:57 AM  

One of my green tree pythons (Nocturne) would do that every so often when I had him on substrate (eco earth or coco fiber i believe is what i had)so I moved him to paper towels. Tried sticking a potted plant in his cage and it was fine for a while but then one day he did it again with the plant dirt. Never had quite the huge swollen effect afterwards. Weird creatures. I'm glad Vaughn is ok! 

Cynthia Chaplin,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 2:23:41 PM  
Poor little guy! I'm so glad he recovered!

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Ché Kinnard,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 4:45:41 PM  
Thanks for sharing.

Brad Waffa,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 6:38:13 PM  

Great job, Sonja.  Love these little guys!

Lillie ,
Posted At: 11/19/2013 9:01:40 PM  

That's awesome! I'm amazed at the results I got from using Reptaid, I had serious doubts about it's effectiveness the first time but it's worked very well for me.

Sonja K. ,
Posted At: 11/20/2013 9:50:08 AM  


Lillie - what were the animals and conditions that you used Reptaid for where you thought it worked well?

Niki ,
Posted At: 11/20/2013 11:17:36 AM  

Always love seeing your threads like this! You do pictures & note taking so well!

Sarah Auzina,
Posted At: 11/20/2013 11:28:31 AM  

Quite an amazing difference between the first and last pictures! Way to save the day and the snake, Sonja!

Posted At: 11/20/2013 11:15:01 PM  

How did I miss this!!! Poor little dude!!!!! Lucky to have you though :) He is looking so much better! (makes me paranoid about my little Mimi though o.o)

Aecian Wandel,
Posted At: 11/20/2013 11:40:41 PM  

Wow, congratulations and good for you!!! He is an adorable little guy and it would've been such a shame to lose him. What a great story of recovery and I am so glad he is doing so well!!! 

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