Help, my boa suffered a rat bite...

Dear VPI,

I've got a nice yearling female Colombian Boa. I made a big feeding mistake a few months ago that I still feel bad about to this very day. I used to feed my boas stunned rats. One day I stunned a rat to feed my female boa.

I walked out of the room to answer the phone. I got involved with the conversation and forgot about the snake. I usually watch my animals until they've consumed their prey. Anyway, the rat must of awaken and bit off the top front "muzzle" part of the female. I realize that's a crude description of the injury. She's breathing fine and the wound has healed.

The problem is she won't eat anymore. She's starting to get a little thin. I thought the she would get over any anxiety from the experience and after healing start eating again. She hasn't.

I'm thinking about buying a pinkie pump. Can you suggest a way I can feed her. I've put small frozen thawed rats in her enclosure and she won't eat.

Any suggestion is greatly appreciated. I don't want to loose her due to my stupidity. Thanks, Frank


Dear Frank,

A pinky pump is totally the wrong piece of equipment for a snake that size. If it comes down to force feeding her, you need to just stick a fuzzy into her with a pair of 10" forceps.

Force-feeding her isn't going to cure the problem though, which at this point is probably psychological. You need to do everything possible to give her security and confidence. With boas it sometimes makes a big difference if you fill the cage with several large branches so that she can get up and above her prey. Also it helps to change food items. I'd give her some time to get used to the new setup and then I'd probably wait until I see her up in the branches, preferably on a cool evening, since boas eat better when they are cool, and put a live mouse in the cage (along with plenty of mouse food) or maybe a sparrow or a chick-just something that is not a rat.

Remember, a secure boa in a cool cage can live one or two years without eating, while an insecure boa will starve to death in 5 or 6 months.

Hope this helps, They usually come around after a trauma like this. Good luck  DGB