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Western Ribbon Snake


Ralph
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My wild-caught ribbon snake has been refusing food and acting lethargic lately. Is he wanting to hibernate/brumate? He's only about 11 inches long, and had been eating very well up until last week.

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My wild-caught ribbon snake has been refusing food and acting lethargic lately. Is he wanting to hibernate/brumate? He's only about 11 inches long, and had been eating very well up until last week.

I don't know this species at all, but that is what all my hibernating species have always done. The Argentine tegus do it in September, while its still warm, usually. One day they're eating like little piggies, the next day, no thank you. Then its night night for 5 or 6 months. Just make sure you keep him warm for at least two weeks after his last meal of the season. This will allow him to him to "clear" his guts. You don't want to allow him to hibernate with any food in him. I also give all of my " to be hibernated " species warm water baths every other day during the two week gut clearing stage. This helps them clear their gut and insures they are well hydrated for their over-winter slumber. I've never had any losses doing it this way. Lastly, don't let the hibernation temps get lower than 50-55 degrees F.

After typing all of this, it occurs to me that I just answered a bunch of questions that you didn't ask. My apologies if you already know all this stuff. I think I'm just a little over-eager about the new reptile thread. :D Good luck with your ribbon.

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Thank you very much! :D But, at about what temperature should he be in? I think I read somewhere that placing them anywhere below freezing is bad, but they hibernate in temps like that in the wild (group brumation?). While you're at it, when should I take him out again in spring?

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Thank you very much! :D But, at about what temperature should he be in? I think I read somewhere that placing them anywhere below freezing is bad, but they hibernate in temps like that in the wild (group brumation?). While you're at it, when should I take him out again in spring?

I'm so glad the info was welcomed. For a North American species, I like room temp with a small 100 degree basking spot on one end of the cage. A little 50watt spot light usually acomplishes this. I put the light on a timer for 14 hours during the summer months and shorten it according to the season until hibernation.

During hibernation, I've had the best results around 55degrees. Too warm and they'll metabolize their fat stores too quickly. Too cold and they don't wake up...ever. Remeber, even in the dead of winter in Vermont, for example, no matter what the above ground temp is, its anywhere from 50-65 underground where the reptile hibernation burrows are. I can tell you from tragic personal experience that if you let them get too cold they will die.

I usually start gradually letting them warm up when the weather starts getting warmer in Spring. They usually do this naturally, unless you have them in some sort of artificially controlled device. I used to use old refridgerators laid on their back. Not plugged in, of course. When I see them up and moving, I'll give them a soak in very shallow, room temp water every couple of days. After a few days up, I'll click on the basking light and give them the opportunity to bask. Once I see regular basking, or they just seem to hang out on the warm side of the cage for a few days, I'll offer food.

Also remember, these are generalities, as I don't know your species very well. Its been my experience that these techniques and temps work well for most North American reptiles from temperate areas. Hope this is what you were looking for. Good luck.

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Thanks again! I'll see what areas of the house are around 55. I live in Iowa if that makes any difference for the lows they can survive.

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