I have a 5-year old Red tail boa (female, I think), roughly 7.5 feet long. The snake has almost always eaten regularly, about one large rat every 1-2 weeks (note that I have always fed the snake live mice/rats, and it usually captures and eats the rat within 30 minutes of being placed in the tank). However, during the past 8 weeks, the snake has refused about 5 rats. The only thing it has eaten during that time period is a small rat, and even that was after the rat had been in the tank for SEVERAL hours.

As far as I can tell, there have been no changes in water supply or heat environment within the tank. The snake looks and acts healthy, and has shed once during this 2-month period. Tongue flickers actively, snake responds to movement within tank, etc. The only possible abnormality lately is that the snake does not coil up tightly as often (or at all).
At this point, should I be concerned?
Also, given the snake's refusal to eat, should I increase the intervals at which I attempt to feed it? I hate having to kill rats (yes, I realize the irony in this statement!).
Please respond here or send an email to (Email Removed). Thanks!
Dan Bauer
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First i would never leave a live rat with a boa for " several hours" My redtail has eaten once since thanksgiving. it that time of year. the weather is cool the days are short and snakes quit or cut back on eating. If it not loosing weight, i wouldn't worry.
Now i will let everybody warn you about the perils of live rats.
First i would never leave a live rat with a boa for " several hours"My redtail has eaten once since ... Ifit not loosing weight, i wouldn't worry. Now i will let everybody warn you about the perils of live rats.

Hello Rev:
Thank you for your input. I have had experiences with a ball python that has not eaten for many months at a time during winter, but this was the first time it has happened to my boa, hence my concern.

And yes, from my quick browsing of this usenet group prior to my (first) post, I expected that I would receive some stern warnings about the use of live rats for feeding. Truth be told, much of my snake care habits come from a local reptile store owner whose advice I have usually taken to be 'gospel.' Perhaps this has been the wrong decision.
Thanks again,
DDB
At this point, should I be concerned?

No. You don't mention your geographic area but I'm willing to bet your area is suffering from the ravages of winter.
Snakes (and other animals)can become affected by pressure changes associated with seasonal barometric activity in ways we don't yet fully understand.
Given your very specific description of the animals behavior, it's apparent that nothing is wrong with your husbandry, except for feeding live rats, that is.
Lengthen the time between feedings to once per month. A boa of that size should weigh about thirty pounds (if female, half that if it's a male) and can go a year or more without losing any appreciable weight.

One other point to mention. A live, adult rat can be an intimidating animal to a snake, even if it doesn't attack it. In the jungle, your snake can let a rat pass it by if it's not hungry. In your cage, the snake is trapped and has to tolerate the rat running around it, over it, etc.
Your snake can develop a negative response to live rats of that size and color because of this.
Something to ponder.
Cheers,
Kurt
I will jump in on the warnings about leaving live rats with a snake. Or even feeding a Boa live rats at all! Boas are usually very easy to get started on pre-killed rats. As for your Boa not eating..I also agree with others that the time of year is most likely the guilty party here. Keep her warm...at least 80 degrees F or higher...and I would offer food every two weeks. Any refused food can be frozen and thawed thoroughly at a later date to be tried again.

A seven and a half foot female Boa should weigh well in excess of 30 pounds, and probably should be fed several large rats every couple of weeks, when feeding normally. Actually, a seven and a half foot Boa should be ready for small rabbits. Again, pre-killed. My big female Boa has been a bit sluggish in her eating habits lately as well, but seems to be coming around fine now. She had a medium sized rabbit a couple of hours ago, 2 jumbo rats a week, and two weeks ago.
Maybe you could post some of the "care advice" here that the reptile shop owner gave you? May just be enlightening.
Roger
Hello Rev: Thank you for your input. I have had experiences with a ball python that has not eaten for many months at a time during winter, but this was the first time it has happened to my boa, hence my concern.

Possibly this is the first year he's been fully grown? A growing animal of any kind is going to be less likely to cut back on eating for any reason, whereas an adult, without the physical demands of producing more of itself, is going to be more likely to respond to environmental cues. Just a guess, no expert here.
And yes, from my quick browsing of this usenet group prior to my (first) post, I expected that I would ... local reptile store owner whose advice I have usually taken to be 'gospel.' Perhaps this has been the wrong decision.

Sorry, but yeah. Big time. A pet store is as likely to tell you something that will kill your reptile as it is to give you proper advice on how to care for it. Some examples I've heard:

"Sand is the perfect substrate for baby beardies." "A hot rock is the best heat source for a snake, because it's safest." "Cedar shavings make great substrate."
"A ten gallon tank is fine for an iguana until it's a couple of years old." "Sure, you can keep your iguana in with your water dragon. They're both tropical critters, after all."
"Lettuce is very healthy for iguanas; it's all they really need." "UV? You mean, like a black light? Man, you can get those for a buck at WalMart."
"Sure, you can keep two kingsnakes in the same cage."

And, of course,
"Live rodents are more natural, so they're better for them."

The problem with that being, in nature, the rodent doesn't hang around in an enclosed space with a sleeping snake. It, being sensible, runs the away if it's not being eaten. And it fights back. Wild snakes are frequently injured by their prey. It's only fair, after all...the small mammals are fighting for their lives. And rats, in particular, are omnivores. They'll eat anything that'll hold still. This includes your snake, especially if he's feeling sleepy and dormant in reaction to winter. Keep giving him live food and eventually you'll have either a dead snake or a nasty vet bill and a badly scarred snake who may never be the same.Being a ball, moving him to dead food might be a bit of a challenge, but it can be done. There are some excellent guides out there on the net to help with this. First thing is to offer the warm dead rat on tongs (by the tail, it wiggles better) and see if he'll take it. If not, leave it for a couple of hours and see if he'll come get it. If that doesn't work, then there are some really rather revolting ways of increasing the scent of the offered prey item so that it smells extra-scrumptious to your ball.

And of course, there's always the last ditch effort of offering him a freshly killed gerbil, because that's what they eat in the wild rather than mice or rats. And once you've made the move, it's much easier to feed frozen/thawed than it is to deal with live rats. Much.
Good luck,
Velvet
Hello Rev: Thank you for your input. I have had experiences with a ball python that has not eaten for ... owner whose advice I have usually taken to be 'gospel.' Perhaps this has been the wrong decision. Thanks again, DDB

Referring to my previous reply to you Bad me. I have no idea how I read 'redtail boa' as 'ball python'. I plead lack of coffee. On the positive side, though, redtail boas are not fussy eaters. You may find that warming it up and putting him in with it is all you have to do.
Velvet
Hello Rev: Thank you for your input. I have had ... Perhaps this has been the wrong decision. Thanks again, DDB

Referring to my previous reply to you Bad me. I have no idea how I read 'redtail boa' as ... You may find that warming it up and putting him in with it is all you have to do. Velvet

My Redtail would only eat live for 20 years. i have gotten her to eat FT only in the last few years. When she was young if she dropped the rat after she had killed it she would not eat it. She is much calmer since changing to FT, The last few years she was eating live. I was the first thing she would bite before looking for the rat. I always fed her in the bath tub so she could crawl in and out until she was ready to eat. She wasn't trapped in a cage with the live rat. The only time she was bit was while killing the rat. It wasn't able to break the skin.
My Boa and my Box Turtle both sense Winter, even though it's not cold in the house, and quit eating for awhile.
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