Snake missing most of it's tongue

Discussion in 'Australian Snakes' started by SarahJane, Jun 24, 2013.

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  1. SarahJane

    SarahJane Not so new Member

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    Another thread about a flighty snake made me think of this, here's the story.

    A friend of mine bought a male BHP, great condition and awesome colours. He was told the snake was a bit 'flighty' when he bought it. That's the under-statement of the year as far as I'm concerned. Imagine the worse fit you've witnessed of a baby snake when being handled and now try to picture a 2.5 metre, really heavy BHP having that same fit. It goes totally wild, thrashing it's body against everything in a mad dash to try and escape. The first couple of times I tried to handle it, I couldn't hold on, it's whacked me with it's tail across the face. It's like trying to hold onto a fire engine hose (for those that have tried this).

    It was some time ago I realised that it was missing an entire side of it's tongue, one fork was completely missing and the other seems to be cut in half. I'm thinking the poor animal is mostly blind to it's surroundings and just plain terrified when someone touches it.

    What are your thoughts on this? Has anyone experienced this before? I doubt there is anything we can do for this snake, but if you've got a suggestion for calming it please comment.

    Sarah Jane
     
  2. Jacknife

    Jacknife Very Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps it's just destined to be a 'show' snake, rather than a pet snake...
     
  3. AntaresiaFreak13

    AntaresiaFreak13 Not so new Member

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    take it real easy with it they will freak out try to alert it that you are going to pick it up by tapping on the enclosure or something also to start with dont actually pick it up but lift it in its enclosure which will allow it to still feel safe.

    Nick
     
  4. RedFox

    RedFox Very Well-Known Member

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    This is probably going to come across as unhelpful but that isn't the intention.

    Firstly, why do you want to "calm it down"? Handling is for our benefit not the snakes. They don't feel the need for companionship and handling can be quite stressful for them even if they are used to it.

    Secondly, I was under the impression that snakes scent with more of their tongue than just the tip. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

    Now for some advice. Maybe you could try treating it like a hatchy and use the hook or pillow case over your hands method. Some snakes just aren't meant to be handled.
     
  5. BeZaKa

    BeZaKa Well-Known Member

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    If I understood the awesome Sir David Attenborough correctly they pick up scent molecules between the forks of the tongue before pulling it back inside the mouth and placing it on/in the Jacobsons organ, if the tongue only has half its tongue ie one side, its ability to capture scent may be compromised. I am open to correction on this :D
     
  6. Ramy

    Ramy Active Member

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    While I like to be able to handle my snakes, I have one in particular who is too aggressive to handle and I have never been able to get her to settle. My solution for her was to make a wooden hide box (with marine-grade varnish) with a secure base so that when it's time to clean I can get her out in the box. She behaves well enough to stay in the box while I transfer her between her encosure and a tub. She seems significantly less stressed with this alternative, and doesn't strike at me if I don't try to grab her.

    It means I'll have a hell of a time if I ever need to take her to the vet, and she'll only ever be a display snake. I don't like it, and I'm still trying to get her used to handling, (and have had a few other keepers try to help) but it's a solution for a really difficult animal.

    As for the tongue thing, I don't know personally. Generally speaking, I recommend consulting a vet on anything medical. They have a forked tongue to compare in which direction a smell is stronger (so they can work out that the rat they can smell is to their left, for example), so having a damaged tongue would mess with their senses. That said, I'd imagine the animal was flighty before the injury, and is more likely because they've felt threatened. If anything, the fact that they've got an injury may have reinforced the idea that being handled is a threat?
     
  7. RedFox

    RedFox Very Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting. Looks like I'll have to do some research. There is so much I don't know my scaley pets. :D
     
  8. SarahJane

    SarahJane Not so new Member

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    RedFox, I understand that snakes tolerate handling rather than appreciate it, no worries, thanks for the comment.

    The animal was originally purchased for demonstrating, obviously it's not suitable for this purpose. It's a shame that the previous owner was dishonest about the snake when it was purchased, that said this wouldn't happen to me because I'd want to see and handle an animal I intended to own. Never-the-less my friend has this snake now, and simply changing it's paper is a nightmare! The animal thrashes about so violently I believe one day it'll do itself some serious hurt. Tapping the glass is enough to send it wild, in fact as soon as it notices you it goes mad! It's terribly sad to watch.

    A secure bottom hide is a good idea, might need to make something suitable, as it's a large and heavy snake.

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  9. Skeptic

    Skeptic Well-Known Member

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    Spot on. The bifurcated tongue serves the same purpose as two nostrils and two ears. It's purely for directional purposes.

    The fact that the animal in question is a BHP could make the situation worse as they only have one infra-red pit located at the front of the snout, rather than a few on each side of the jaw (like Morelia), further reducing it's directional sensing capabilities.
     
  10. Ramy

    Ramy Active Member

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    Good luck with him (or pass that on to your friend). Hopefully with some care and attention, you can help the poor animal to relax.
     
  11. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't aware that bhp's had any heat pits because they eat cold blooded prey. Do you have a link you can send me with this information please.
     
  12. Skeptic

    Skeptic Well-Known Member

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    I can't remember exactly where I read it but they do have a heat sensitive organ located in their rostral scales.

    When I dig up the info I'll send you a link :)
     
  13. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    cheers
     
  14. BeZaKa

    BeZaKa Well-Known Member

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    Pretty sure I read it here on APS, cant find the thread though.
     
  15. BeZaKa

    BeZaKa Well-Known Member

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    Hope this is ok to post this link here but it answers your question andynic07 Black Headed Python Read through the info also has a pic.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  16. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I just read that too but I have not been able to find the scientific findings that they are talking about. There is also a lot of other sights (without scientific proof) saying they have no pits at all.
     
  17. BeZaKa

    BeZaKa Well-Known Member

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    All the older books I have say no as I did a fair bit of research prior to getting mine. The internet unfortunately gives rather specious results. Looks like the jury is still out I guess.
     
  18. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion Skeptic , you and Pilbra pythons are probably right but I would like to see and read the facts before fully believing it.
     
  19. Skeptic

    Skeptic Well-Known Member

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    That's what being a skeptic is all about :)
     
  20. Skeptic

    Skeptic Well-Known Member

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