Causes of mortality in juvenile mandarin rat snakes [Euprepiophis (Elaphe) mandarinus] due to improper captive maintenance

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In the present study the authors summarize health problems associated with captive maintenance of juvenile medium-sized colubrid snakes originating from mountaine forests in Asia, that are rather difficult to keep. During raising juveniles the air temperature in the enclosure must be maintained at 25°C or lower, as mandarin rat snakes refuse to take food at higher temperatures (temperature dependent anorexia). Even at optimum care young mandarin rat snakes frequently refuse food intake. At such instances a hibernation period shorter than normal (so-called pseudohibernation) should be offered, after which the animals often spontaneously start eating. Those juveniles that eat well, however, can become obese with degenerated livers upon intense feeding. To avoid this problem a low-key feeding is recommended here (one proper-sized prey animal per 7 to 10 days). This species is to be kept in a humid terrarium, which requires more frequent cleaning as bacteria are likely to accumulate in the faeces deposited on the bottom, and cause dermatitis. The authors recommend to keep the young snakes at 17-25°C temperature in a terrarium with humid peat as bottom substrate, and to feed them less frequently than normal, as compared with other colubrid species.

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The authors diagnosed severe dehydration in a one and a half months old red bamboo snake (Elaphe porphyracea nigrofasciata), that lives under natural conditions in humid mountain forests. In this case, the relatively high temperature and low humidity in the terrarium caused the serious exsiccosis of the animal.
The authors present a case where a Green Pit Viper (Trimeserus trigonocephalus) died of constipation and consequential autointoxication. The causes leading finally to death were inappropriate keeping conditions, too low humidity in the terrarium and abnormal feeding of the snake.
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