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Need Some Info

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Around about December 2005/January 2006 I recall a thread (I think it was on this forum) about a cat who kept attacking it's own front leg. I can't remember what the outcome of this dreadful thing was, or what caused the problem.

I need to find out in order to help someone who's pet snake is doing a similar thing - it starts eating it's own tail. Fortunately the owner has caught it in time because once a snake starts eating it's own tail it will just carry on until it's eaten itself and, of course, it will die in a most horrendous way. No-one seems to know what causes it (personally, I think it is a psychological thing) and at this stage this lady is willing to try anything.

Now I know cats and snakes are two completely different species, but I feel there may be a clue in the case of the cat that may help this lady and her poor snake, I just can't remember what the cause and cure, if any cure was possible was.

Can anyone throw light on this subject?
post #2 of 9
I'm wondering if your friend could use some Bitter Apple Spray on the tail to stop the biting. Otherwise, they may need to contact a vet that deals in reptiles to resolve the problem.
post #3 of 9
I wouldn't give it anything because it could quite easily poison it. Certainly she should find a reptile vet., but also google for answers - there should be lots out there.
post #4 of 9
The Bitter Apple spray is just bad tasting - its used on dogs/cats with no problems - can't see why you couldn't do the same with a snake. Probably best to get it to a vet to be on the safe side.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. She is seeing a reptile vet and it seems to me the snake is being treated for the wrong thing. The vet prescribed IV antibiotics daily for the snake which is really going to stress the snake out and I doubt if that will solve the problem. It happens every few months so it's intermittant. One theory is that the snake mistakes it's own tail for another snake and this particular type of snake is known for their cannabalistic tendencies, usually other snakes, Rattlesnakes being high up on their menu in the wild. The snake gets hungry and thinks it's own tail is a tasty snack. I'm pretty sure it's a psychological thing with the snake and could be caused by a number of reasons, from the snake being hungry to it feeling insecure. Posting on various snake forums hasn't really helped as the general concensus of opinion is that it does happen, no-one really knows why it happens but occasionally it does. It could be that the owner may have to consider putting the snake to sleep which is an option she doesn't really want to do. I know how I'd feel if I had to consider such an action with any of my beloved snakes or my cats.

If anyone can remember the thread I'm talking about, please let me know.

Thankyou everyone.
post #6 of 9
Hmm would a bigger tank help? What is the snake eating now? Maybe you could figure out how to wrap a sock or something around the tail.
post #7 of 9
It could be nerve damage, the antibiotics in any case are needed to prevent infection.
Have you tried asking on http://forums.kingsnake.com/index.php
That forum usually has a few people in each section that are very experienced, 10-20+ years.

http://www.reptilerooms.com/PNphpBB2+main.html has quite a few users and busy snake sections as well.

I recently read on the reptilerooms forum where someone's leopard gecko was eating it's own tail, even after several vet trips and removing the tail down to the base so it could regrow it would still bite and eat chunks from it's tail. A few people did wonder if it was nerve damage causing odd sensations in the tail. I can't remember if the person ever posted an update about what happened.

Good luck finding some answers as to what's causing the snake to behave this way.

(Since neither forum is cat related at all, I hope no one minds me posting the links)
post #8 of 9
i am a python owner myself and I cant tell you what i would do if I saw that...I think I would just be in amazment and in aww.

I do hope this snake stops, I am thinking maybe this is something neurological. like "star gazing" as some snakes get/do.

Please PM when you find out what is the matter or if the vet gives you any suggestions on how to stop the snake.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've since spoken to the lady and more things have come to light. It would seem that the snake could be quite old as her vet picked up that the snake has got kidney problems. She was given the snake some time ago and doesn't know it's age, so it could be quite elderly.

From a human point of view, my son is on renal dialysis awaiting a transplant and I know that the calcium and phosphate levels are affected by renal failure. On top of that, it causes problems with blood pressure and can cause chemical imbalances that affect the brain causing forgetfulness. That is for a human but I doubt if it would be too much different for an animal, even a snake.

I think she has tried just about every snake forum on the internet, spoken to breeders and experts and the general consensus of opinion is that it does sometimes happen, but no-one knows really why.

I think the snake having kidney problems could be the root of things.

Thankfully my 14 snakes are fairly young (under 3 years old) and I haven't encountered any problems like that with them.
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