Posted - 14/01/2010 : 21:39:49
| Regurgitation or 'Regurge'
What is regurgitation?
Regurgitation is when the snake brings back up all or part of its last feed, usually within a few days of eating. The longer the food item has actually remained in the digestive system before being regurgitated, the more it will smell and the less it will resemble the mouse that was fed. If regurgitation happens relatively soon after feeding the smell will be less and the mouse will often be recognisable as such.
Often (but not always) the causes of regurge are keeper-related and are identifiable and fixable, such as:
* incorrect temperature
* handling too soon
Temperature - when you feed your snake its a race between digestion and decay and if the temps aren't right decay could win meaning regurgitation or more severe health problems.
If the warm end is too warm, this speeds up decay rather than digestion - potentially causing regurge.
If the warm end temp is too low (or if the snake has stayed in a cooler area of the viv due to the warm end temp being too hot), these lower temps are too cool for effective digestion meaning the food will remain in the digestive system for a much longer period of time, again, decay could take over and up comes the last meal.
Stress - caused by incorrect set-up for example feeling exposed or not having enough cover to move around the viv remaining hidden, not enough hides (importantly not one in each end of the viv), other snakes (if co-habiting) and even other pets like cats staring at them for hours on end.
Handling - snakes should NOT be handled within 48hours of a feed (other than to be placed back inside their viv if fed in a separate tub) and after a particularly large meal ideally extend this a further 24hours. In the wild after a meal the snake would find a secure place, nearest to the optimum temperature for digestion and remain there, completely inactive, until digestion is completed. NOT following these guidelines is a frequent reason for regurgitation.
What do i do now?
Having removed the regurgitated food item and cleaned the area basically do NOTHING with the snake for 10 days. This 10 day period allows your snake's digestive system (gut flora) to recover so it can digest its next meal.
In this period DO try to identify the cause of the regurge and DO try to fix the problem - whether that involves buying or adjusting your thermostat to get the temperatures right (see the caresheet), or covering 3 sides of a plastic or glass viv for example.
DO try to keep everything as quiet as possible, no handling, only daily or 2 daily water-changes and quick 'spot cleans' (although there's unlikely to be much poo). If your snake's viv is in a 'high traffic' area it could be beneficial to cover the viv with a towel or sheet during the daytime so people frequently passing by don't disturb the snake.
It may also be beneficial to add some Reptoboost to your snake's water during this 10 day period. Reptoboost contains a probiotic to settle the snake's stomach back to normal, electrolytes to avoid dehydration and energy as a 'pick me up'.
10 days after the regurge and it's time to try offering a smaller-than-usual mouse.
What do i do if this happens again?
Hopefully your snake's regurgitation was a one-off and the cause(s) solved. BUT should it happen again and you're sure that your care and set-up is not the problem then the cause should be investigated by your local exotics vet.
If, at any time, you're unsure of your snake's health your exotics vet should be your first point of contact.
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