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Feeding Sand Boas
Feeding Sand Boas in captivity is usually pretty straightforward. Most people that have problems getting Sand Boas to eat are failing to provide appropriate housing and/or temperatures for their snakes.
Most adult Sand Boas eat commercially available rodents. However, most Eryx prefer small food items not much larger in diameter than their bodies. Many also prefer nestling rodents to adults, for example, a large E. tataricus I had consistently refused dead or alive adult mice, but readily consumed smaller (crawler) mice and crawler rats, many of which were larger than the adult mice I offered!
Many Eryx will learn to take pre-killed rodents but a few seem to insist on live prey. Here are some suggestions to get your Sand Boa to take dead food:
I have recently received a couple of suggestions from Sam Mitchell. He has had success scenting mice with dead chicks (maybe chicken soup would work as well as it does for pythons?) and he has also created false rodent nests with an overturned deli cup (with lid on) or similar container and an entrance tube. He usually places the false nest on top of the litter and puts some of the dirty rodent cage shavings in the container to make the container more attractive to an investigative snake.
Sam also suggests feeding snakes that insist on feeding in their cages by putting a food item on a paper towel to prevent shavings, etc., from sticking to the food item.
Babies of some species are as easy to care for as the adults. This is the case with the species that have larger babies, including E. colubrinus, E. conicus, and E. johnii. These larger babies are born big enough to take a standard sized pink mouse. Some of the smaller species have very small babies. These small babies can be problematic, not only because it is hard to find very small pinkies, but also because many of these species appear to be lizard eaters in the wild. See individual species accounts for specifics on this.
I have used several techniques to get reluctant baby Sand Boas to feed:
For more ideas on starting picky feeders see the excellent article by Tony Mills (1990).
Mills, T. 1990. To scent or not to scent (techniques for feeding baby snakes). The Vivarium 2(3):8-27.
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