Ok This is the most common question I get, What I am recommending here are
tricks I learned with my own animals, Ive never been in the position of buying neonates from other people and running into
problems. So if this doesn't help then I would recommend either a trip to the vet or return the snake to whomever it
was bought from. When our litters were dropped I would put them in a Rubbermaid shoe boxes(you can get them at Walmart
for like .99cents), one of the little 5.7 quart ones, blue in color, so they cant see what going on outside, the darker and
smaller the better the confinement makes them feel secure, read the care sheet for a better explanation. All are housed by
themselves due to the cannibalistic nature of this species. Make sure that you put the Rubbermaid in a aquarium or something
if its not in a rack, the lids are not strong enough and sometimes just don't snap right. Many times I walked into my snake
room to find loose snakes in the cages the babies were in. I would always cram like 30 of the little rubber maids in one 4ftx2ft
cage. That way when they popped the lids off they weren't loose in the house.
Inside the Rubbermaid I would place an inch
of aspen, enough that the snake and completely burrow down into it and of course a water dish. Myself and several others IM
friends with that have worked with Dumerils for a long period of time all recommend aspen shavings something about the
smell can help stimulate a feed response. Also ad a water bowl for them then three days or so after birth I would offer it
first meal. I would always offer 3 days or so after they were born however the majority would eat their first time at 2-4wks
of age. So if you dont have extra mice to waste just wait till they are a couple wks old. The first meal was always a live
white large fuzzy or small hopper mouse. Place it in the cage at night and check on them the next morning. Just make sure
it is something small enough that it wont chew on the snake. If the snake doesn't eat don't worry about it, give him 7 days
till you offer again and repeat this cycle. Ive actually had some Dumerils eat the day they were born, they shed their first
time within 15 minutes after being born there's pics at the bottom two links on this page of this. Some will eat later that
day and I have had some take up to 8 months. Ive had them do that out of the same litter, point being when they are ready
they will eat.
In between feeding attempts aside from checking the snakes water, LEAVE THE SNAKE ALONE. I cant stress that
enough. A snake that is not feeding is probably stressed to begin with, being born the photographed, shipped or hauled to
trade shows is stressful on baby snakes, then screwing with him will only ad to his stress. Until the snake has eaten 4 or
5 meals do not hold him or even touch him unless you absolutely have to for cleaning and what not. The second point I cant
stress enough is DO NOT FORCE FEED. Also do not offer food more often the 7 days apart, if you start offering food every other
day or start force feeding the snake, the animal will view food as a source of stress. Humidity, read through the care sheet,
they come from a dry climate so whatever is going on in the house is fine. Temperatures, these guys can handle a wind range
of temps, once again read the care sheet, they dont need heat tape on the bottom of the tub or anything like that, just a
room that is between 75-80 degrees. And last DONT PANIC. Ive had babies go almost 8 months prior to taking their first meal.
Most people dont give them the credit for being the intelligent animals they are, one thing you can rest assured about is
that they are not going to commit suicide by starving them selves to death. If the animal is dropping weight doesn't look
healthy that's a matter for a vet, wrinkled skin, loose of coloration, loose of muscle tone are signs of the animal being
sick. Id take it to the vet. Neither myself nor anyone else on the internet can help if the animal is legitimately sick.
Now if everything is normal aside from your snake not eating dont worry about it hell come around in time.
Overview of Dumeril's Natural Habitat.
Dumeril's Boas are
a species of snakes native to only Madagascar. Years ago these animals were captured and imported into the pet Overview of
Dumeril's Natural Habitattrade in the United States. This practice did not last very long due to Madagascar stopping nearly
all exportation of its native species for the pet trade. Due to the limited number of animals imported and the length of time
these animals have taken to become affordable within the pet trade, there is little accurate information available on this
species. Due to the lack of accurate information here within is a general overview of this species in its natural as well
as captive environment.
Madagascar is an island off the coast of Africa, the fourth largest in
the world. In recent history much of this beautiful island has been devastated for human benefit. Seventy-five percent of
its original growth forests have been destroyed, mainly using slash and burn tactics for agricultural use. Once the land is
cleared, the farmer will use it until it is depleted of nutrients. After this has occurred the land should be given 15 to
20 years to regenerate but due to the rapid population growth this rarely happens.
Madagascar is home to many species of
animals, including many reptiles and amphibians. One-hundred fifty species of frogs are found in Madagascar, and only two
are found elsewhere in the world. The only crocodilian species is the Nile crocodile, a very wide spread reptile from Africa.
However, many herpetologists fear that due to over hunting and exploitation for commercial use, the Nile crocodile will be
almost eliminated in Madagascar in the near future. There are four species of Sea Turtles and five species of land tortoises,
including the African Hingeback Tortoise that was imported and established a breeding population. Over one-hundred eighty
species of lizards inhabit the island. There are sixty-three species of geckos; fifty-three are native only to Madagascar.
Also, a population of forty-eight species of skinks occupy the area, only one is not native to the island. Three families
of non-venomous snake cohabitant with the rest of the wildlife on Madagascar. Colubridae consist of about fifty species. Several
have only been known from a single specimen, found dead along roadways. Another species of snake native to the island are
Typhlopidae or blind snakes. Lastly, there are three species of boas; Acrantophis Dumerilli or Dumeril's Boa, A. Madagascariensis
or the Madagascar Ground Boa and Sanzinia Madagascariensis or the Madagascar Tree boa.
Dumeril's Boas are snakes found
only in the island of Madagascar. The highest concentration of Dumerils is found in an area called the Spiny Desert that runs
from the west central coast to the southwestern side of the island. According to Bill Love, who works a tourist guide taking
Americans to Madagascar, the Spiny Forest is a region that looks much like the desert areas in the southwestern US, like New
Mexico and Arizona.
The climate in this area is generally very arid. Some of the outer most parts of the Dumeril's range
are wet woodlands but is commonly desert. The spiny desert and surrounding areas have prolonged droughts and rain is referred
to as "unreliable" (Preston-Mafham17) because the droughts can last up to 18 months. This region on Madagascar only receives
about 12-20 inches of rain per year, in the form of heavy downpours, during the months of December and January, mostly due
to the high peeks of the mountains to the east blocking the rainfall. The plant life is much like that of Arizona and New
Mexico with cactus and cactus like plants that can survive prolonged droughts and high temps.
This region of Madagascar
has an average annual mean temperature of 59-78 degrees. Night time summer temperatures often drop into the high 60's or low
70's with day time temps staying in the mid to high 90's. During the winter months of December and January average daytime
temps are in the lower 70's with nighttime temps in the 50's and on occasion in the high 40's.
are a medium sized boa, with most adults reaching around 6-7ft, although some have been recorded staying around five feet
and I am personally housing one that is around 9 feet. In the northern part of their region where rainfall is consistent and
environmental conditions are more stable these animals are believed to get larger. According to Bill Love, he has found Dumeril's
in the tropical regions of Madagascar further north than recorded, nearing the range of the Madagascar Ground Boa.
and Ground Boas Interbreeding
It is thought by many herpoculturists that the Dumeril's and Madagascar Ground Boas have overlapping ranges somewhere
in the northern part of the Dumeril's region. In discussions with several herpoculturists, due to the larger size of many
of the captive animals in the US that were possibly collected in the northern parts of their range, inbreeding could have
occurred. In contrast among animals that have since been imported from captive collections in Sweden, those with documentation
of being collected from the southern regions of the Dumeril's ranges stay much smaller.
In addition, many of the animals
believed to have originated from the northern ranges, share characteristics with the Madagascar Ground Boas including larger
scalation on their head, dissimilar ventricle scale counts, and over all darker body color. Also, some can average lengths
up to two feet more than animals collected from the southern more arid regions.
Stress Due To Captivity
One of the more common problems found with Dumeril's in captivity is the difficulty of non-feeding neonates. Dumeril's,
being solitary animals spending most of their lives concealed from other wildlife, stress easily in captivity due to constant
interaction with humans and insecurity from lack of hiding areas. In captive environments when neonates are sold they undergo
a lot of stress from environmental changes. In the pet trade these stresses can be detrimental if not recognized and treated
Neonate Dumerils require a period of two to three weeks to adapt to their new environment. During this period
of adaptation, only occasional checks to insure they have water, correct temperatures, and a clean enclosure should be made.
Alignments Illnesses and Inbreeding
Inbreeding affects certain genetic traits. When animals are inbreed, the recessive traits become more dominant while
the dominant traits become more recessive. It is said, "With each generation of inbreeding 25% of heterozygosity of a line
is lost."(Ross, Richard A., Marzec Gerald,127)
Due to the limited number of these animals that were collected from their
natural habitat, along with irresponsibility of reptile breeders, many lines of Dumeril's have become inbred. One of the effects
is the advanced susceptibility to respiratory infections. Noted in " The Reproductive Husbandry of Pythons and Boas", " some
lines of Acrantophis dumerilli in private collections have an increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Other privately
held lines do not appear to achieve the expected adult size. Such effects may be a result of inbreeding depression, as A.
Dumerilli is the most seriously inbreed of the boids in private collections."(Ross, Richard A., Marzec Gerald,127)
of the more common effects inbreeding seen in males is lack of reproductive fitness.
Housing for neonate Dumeril's should consist of a 5.7qt Rubbermaid
Shoe Box. Anything larger can cause the animal to stress. Aquariums are not recommend. Rubbermaid shoe boxes are fairly inexpensive
compared to custom enclosures that are quickly outgrown. If you do not have a rack unit to place the shoe boxes in it is recommended
that you place it inside another Rubbermaid tub or an aquarium. The shoe boxes being made as cheaply as they are, do not all
properly latch and some reptiles can get crafty figuring out ways to escape if other precautions are not taken.
an animal one thing that must be understood about wild ground dwelling neonate snakes is they will spend the bulk of their
time hidden underground. These neonates will live in rodent burrows, under rock piles, in or under anything that can provide
them with security from predation. When they move from one area to another in the wild they will use brush, leaves and even
tunnels dug by other animals to remain hidden. This is why I recommend small Rubbermaid shoe boxes as an enclosure. The tubs
are small confined and do a better job of blocking long range viewing from within then an aquarium does. In turn this makes
the animal feel safer. The most common problem I run into with Dumerils is none feeding neonates due to environmental stress
from being stuck in an aquarium or an over sized cage. You take an animal who is used to be hidden and confined to very small
area and stick it in an over sized cage and most neonate will stress. Some however will do just fine no matter how they are
set up, even so I recomend this method be used.
There are two preferred types of bedding that are commonly
used in a captive environment, newspaper or wood in the form of shavings or chips. Newspaper with a hide box is the preferred
method used by many breeders and hobbyists. It is easy to clean, cheap, and harmless if accidentally ingested.
bedding can vary from Aspen or pine shavings to various kinds of mulch. Preprocessed substrates such a Repti-bark, ground
walnut shells or Repti-carpet are also used among novices. However, if buying preprocessed forms of bedding, extra precautions
must be taken not to purchase any types that expand once wet. Often when feeding, reptiles will ingest pieces of the loose
substrate along with the prey item. Bedding that expends can cause blockages in the digestive track and various other problems.
Also, these forms of bedding can house many types of bacteria if not thoroughly cleaned and disposed of regularly. For Dumeril's
aspen bedding is highly recommended. A layer deep enough that they can burrow into it should be used. We recommend Aspen over
any other substrate because it is our opinion something about the smell stimulates a feed response and makes then feel secure.
We have used it with great success along with many other Dumerils breeders we know.
The most important aspect
of heating an environment is for the snake to have the ability to properly thermal regulate its body temperature. Reptiles
being cold blooded have no internal heat source. They must warm and cool their bodies using the elements provided. In a captive
environment, having hot and cool side in the enclosure must simulate the elements. Providing heat sources such as heat tape,
heat pads or various types of light bulbs on one side of the cage can offer the temperature gradient required. For Dumeril's
Boas the hot and cool sides should range from 75 degrees in the cool side to the mid 80's in the hot side. The temperature
in the cool side must always be maintained, so the animals can escape the heat when needed to provide for proper thermal regulation.
boas will readily feed on all types of rodents. Prey items for neonate or adult Dumeril's should be large enough to create
a slight bulge in the animal after the meal has been swallowed. Neonates will normally start feeding with 48-72 hours after
birth. Feeding should be attempted at least once per week for the first 18-24 months. After the animal has reach a length
of 3ft, feedings should be reduced to a per defecation schedule. Due to their ambush style of hunting their metabolism rates
are slower than those of more active species. Often when fed on the same schedule as other species, Dumeril's become over
weight. The myth about the Dumeril's species being this extremely heavy-bodied snake comes from overfeeding in a captive environment.
When fed on a lighter schedule, Dumeril's are much lighter and healthier snakes.
Dumeril's Boas are a very laid back, beautiful
animal, from place that is being devastated by the over population of mankind. My only hope is that more research in their
natural habitat is done, and more information becomes available here within the United States before its too late.
Between Dumeril's and Red-Tail Boas
The past five years I have been specializing in breeding Dumeril's Boas. Throughout this time I have come across a lot
of what I consider to be misinformation. A lot of people consider the husbandry practices for Colombian Boas (Boa Constrictor
Imperator) or the True Red Tail Boas (Boa Constrictor Constrictor) the same as the care for Dumeril's. Stated in the book,
"The Living Boas", " In captivity the boa is kept much like the red-tailed boa…"(Wells 46) However I do not believe
they are anywhere close.
Comparison Between The Two Species
Dumeril's Boas are between 12-18 inches upon birth, whereas
Colombians are about 12-20. Dumeril's will start shedding about an hour after birth for their first time and may also take
their first meal the day they are born. One female that I produced in 1999 ate for the first time 8 hours after birth, she
was the largest of the litter at about 18-20 inches. Colombians take about 7-14 days to shed and start eating. Litter sizes
in Dumeril's can range from 6-22, averaging 12 with the largest I know being 28, as compared to Colombians whose average is
about 25 neonates.
In their natural habitat, Dumeril's are ambush predators that are often found lying under leaves or
in rock outcroppings, for extended periods of time, waiting for prey. Colombians are more active predators that track their
prey by scent and scaling trees in search of food In comparison, Dumeril's are not known to climb trees. Both species are
nocturnal, however, Colombians boas will normally accept meals during the day and Dumeril's will normally refuse day feedings
until a year or so of age.
Dumeril's overall are a much more inactive snake than Colombians, spending much of their time
laying in the cooler rock formations or underbrush to avoid the intense heat of the sun in the desert climate. Coming from
a tropical area, Colombians are provided with protection from the elements by the forest canopy.
Also the rainfall varies
between climates the two species come from. Dumeril's, coming from a desert like climate, receive very little rainfall and
must be able to withstand long periods of drought. Colombians coming from a tropical environment, receive regular rainfall.
in alphabetical order, by author's last name)
Love, Bill. Blue Chameleon Ventures. Personal Interview. April 2001
Ken. Madagascar A Natural History. New York NY. Facts On File, 1991
Ross Richard A. Marzec Gerald. The Reproductive Husbandry
of Pythons and Boas. Stanford California. Institute for Herpetological Research, 1990
Sweigart, Jason. Miller, Christina
"Classic Dum's." 1999. http://www.dumerils.com
Wells, Jerry G. The Living Boas. Neptune City: T.F.H. Publications, 1996.
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