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  1. #1
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    Default Metabolic bone disease in boas?

    Hey guys I just wanted to share some things with you about a recent observation I had with my female sunglow. I will try to break it down as simple as possible.

    1) First off when I noticed this yesterday my 1st thought was some of the BCC guys are going to have fun with this and I better just keep it to myself.

    2) This morning after thinking about it I felt it was best to post it as perhaps others have seen this before and dealt with it either successfully or unsuccessfully. Also putting it out there could perhaps help shed some light for others who may witness this in the future as I never delete pictures from my old threads and years from now this could be searchable.

    History:

    DOB 4/11/10
    Acquired 8/23/10
    Parents: Dad Coral Glow, Mom Coral Albino.
    Produced by Treys famous #2 glow litter last season.

    a) This animal eats and passes stool with no signs of discomfort.

    Acquisition: Upon arrival here last year this animal showed no signs of kinks and was perfect in appearance.

    Signs: The only thing the animal had was it kept a slight curvature of the neck. There is no kink or deformity in that region but the animal tends to mobilize itself with favoring keeping its neck curved. The animals can straighten its neck; the spine is not fused in a curve.

    Notice the curve at the neck. It actually looks quite normal but the animal mobilizes and keeps that curve:








    I deduced this as a slight neuro problem. I didnít take it seriously though because as some of you know I have a Vin Russo striped Suriname that displayed that same ďneuroĒ behavior as a baby but at about a year of age as it developed more size the slight curving of the neck simply went away.

    Therefore I assumed this was the same thing happening here and shrugged it off as well it will grow out of it like the Suri did. Perhaps she will but itís too soon to tell.

    This Animal also has a tendency to stay in a pretzel type could. I never saw it stretched out or in perfect HCP type coil. But for some boas thatís normal although she is the only one I have thatís always in a twisted pretzel type shape.

    Yesterday I had her on the table just watching her when I noticed the protrusions on the tail. I took my fingers and palpated her spine.

    Findings: She has 1 kink on her 13th saddle down from the neck which is 4 saddles up from the 1st tail saddle. In other words the problems in the spine on the last 1/3rd of the boaís spine.





    Tail: The kinks are not visible to the eye is you are casually looking at the boa.

    The kinks are in a vertical hills and valley sequence like an up and down roller coaster in the tail are almost uniform in space.







    If you massage the spine the hills as I describe them are very easy to feel and you can only see them if you position the tail a certain way or know to look for them. To an untrained eye this animal can pass off as ďnormalĒ but close examination and palpation of the spine reveals the problem.

    This has caused a tremendous blow for me as some of you know two of my ďfemalesĒ in my collection were sexed wrong and turned out to be males when I sexed them here under the guidance of Chris Smith. Therefore, my collection if full of surplus males and every female is valuable. I believe this animal to be irreproducible at this juncture and this has really set me back as now I have yet another animal that is now in pet status.

    My hypothesis is this animal may have problem synthesizing calcium and has developed either some sort of arthritis or metabolic bone disease.

    My course of treatment will be to douse the second half of all its meals with reptical to increase its calcium intake and observe and record my findings.

    I think this may be reversible and since she is still a baby it can reverse itself. Iíve had less that perfect boas here in the past (3 to be exact) of which completely either grew out of their problems or in one instance regenerated its tail tip thatís unnoticeable to the eye. Therefore I am optimistic that boas can do incredible things and have hopes to save this animal and give it the best quality of life I can. But as a breeder I think this animal would be incapable of a successful pregnancy due to the curve and bulge of the ribs at the location above its tail.

    I would like to add this is no ones fault. These things just happen and some animals just werenít meant to live and/or reproduce. The best we can do is just enjoy their company and give them the best quality of life we can. We owe that to them.
    Alex Burgos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Illinois
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    Default

    Very sorry about your girl there.. I can't say I've seen anything like that in a boa before. I'm glad you shared this. Best of luck to her!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Maitland, FL
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    Default

    Alex,
    Great post!!

    Osteitis deformans has been described in boids and colubrids (2, 5, 6) there are some more references out there.

    2. Frye FL and Carney. Osteitis Deformans (Pagetís Disease) in a Boa Constrictor. Vet Med /Small Anim Clinic 1974; 69: 186-8.

    5. Kiel JL. Spinal Osteoarthropathy in two Southern Copperheads. J Zoo An Med 1977; 8(2):21-4.

    6. Kiel JL. Pagetís Disease in Snakes. Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet Ann Mtng 1988; 201-7.


    Osteitis deformans (similar to Paget's disease in humans) is nothing more than a degenerative bone disease. Clinically, partial loss of mobility and spinal deformities can be seen on presentation, and segmental thickening of spine can be palpated.

    On radiographs you can see focal or multifocal proliferative changes of vertebral bodies and ankylosis (stiffness of a joint due to abnormal adhesion and rigidity of the bones of the joint, which may be the result of injury or disease).

    There are other differential diagnosis that mimic similar presentation:
    - primary trauma
    - vertebral osseous dysplasia (spinal deformation leading to the spinal canal
    narrowing in young seen in Elaphe guttata - corn snakes)
    - other congenital malformations
    - granulomatous osteitis (focal lysis of the bone)
    - metabolic bone diseases

    Although difficult.....biopsy is the key or necropsy to find the culprit.

    I have seen it in locality boas particularly the imperators back when I was doing my residency. I remember taking pictures.....let see if I can find them.

    There are some etiologies that cause Osteitis deformans but most still on its infancy or have not been clarified well. Again, it appears to be similar to Pagetís disease in man. Slow viral infection with mouse Polyomavirus, autoimmune disease triggered by chronic infection (For example, Salmonellosis), and/or slow neoplasia (Tumor) are most often considered as potential cause. I have seen other animals that through the years + the slow bony degeneration they end up losing their righting reflex to the point that they have to be humanely euthanized. Others animals do well normally throughout their lives.

    Hope that helps!

    Orlando
    Orlando Diaz-Figueroa, DVM and Joel Diaz, CVT
    LEGACY REPTILES
    www.legacyreptiles.com (UPDATED 2010)

  4. #4
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    Sep 2007
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    NC
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    Thanks for all the information Orlando. I am going to research Pagetís disease as this seems to be the most plausible prognosis based on your description. If this is the case perhaps the calcium therapy I'm planning to start this week will not help reverse this condition and it's a lot more complex than I initially thought.

    If at any point the condition worsens to the point that the animal looks uncomfortable I guess my hopes for her future seems bleak. For now it's not in any type of distress and the "kinks" are not on the extreme end of the spectrum that are typical of the normal kinks we have witnessed in birth defects and accidental injuries. As time progresses I will post updates of the outcome. As far as the animal is concerned, to date she functions fine and to many untrained eyes looks normal. As long as she stays this way and doesn't worsen I will do my best to see here thrive here as a pet. Thanks again for all the great information!
    Alex Burgos

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Sarasota, FL
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    Most of Orlando's post went over my head except for this:

    Quote Originally Posted by lrdj View Post
    Alex,
    Great post!!

    Hope that helps!

    Orlando
    lol just kidding!

    only 2 replies in and this thread is DESTINED for the "best of the boards".
    jb
    "I didn't have time for a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." -Mark Twain
    [URL="http://www.facebook.com/DeviantConstrictors"][COLOR="Red"]Click HERE to "like" Deviant Constrictors on Facebook[/COLOR][/URL]
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  6. #6
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    I would like to add this is no ones fault. These things just happen and some animals just weren’t meant to live and/or reproduce. The best we can do is just enjoy their company and give them the best quality of life we can. We owe that to them.
    if you have enough of them you will see problems most don't see. I nature anything that slows them down would probably be their end, but they get an "easy" life in captivity so more of these issues will be seen.
    Ed Lilley
    www.constrictorsnw.com

    Check my available snakes at this link:
    http://www.reptileinsider.com/classi...panamared.html

    I rejoined facebook... I don't feel good about it...



    [/I]

  7. #7
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    Interesting post, I had to read Orlando's reply to get a grip on his explanation, glad we have him on this forum....great contributor. I have never experienced this with any of my boas but keep us posted.
    If God wanted us to vote then he would have given us candidates.

    Joel Thomas

  8. #8
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    Default

    Thanks for the info but sorry to hear that. I had some try to sell me a boa with the same deformations as you described with the ribs and such but a little more dramatic. The boa was also a little older and bigger with a flattened body shape. It was the guy off CL in St Pete. He tried to tell there was nothing wrong with it.

  9. #9
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    Thx for bringing this to light Alex, I'm sorry for your problems, I completely empathize.

    I have seen some, well actually several different odd things in several different Boa types.

    Somebody elsewhere talked about metabolic bone disease and calcium supplementation.

    I wish I could remember when and where but I believe it was KS.

    Anyway I hope the prognosis turns around and she out grows this problem or
    at least it doesn't continue to degrade.

    Thx for sharing Alex and thx Orlando for the great medical explanation.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all your input guys/gals. I am going to go ahead with the calcium therapy. To date I've had good luck with boas that had quirks and with a little TLC all of them seem to be 100% fine presently.

    Caveat: As I said this animal appears fine to the naked eye. I was able to show the kinks by having the animal tense up and allow the bones to protrude for purposes of taking these photos.

    If you see an animal like this in a deli cup at a show or in a pet shop the chances of it passing for a perfectly healthy animal is foreseeable.

    I hope this thread helps those to identify this condition should you ever see it in your collection or in an animal up for sale. I researched "Pagetís Disease" and it seems to inflict only 1% of the human population and the figure for boas is probably astronomically less than that!

    Because the causes and treatment for Pagetís disease is unknown at this time, my only direction is to go ahead with the calcium therapy. It would be interesting to see if the therapy will actually reverse the process as it has done in Iguanas and other reptiles who presented with metabolic bone disease.

    This is just another science project for me to embark on and I hope that either she improves or does not worsen for her condition does not seem as dire as some of the photos I've seen over the years of reptiles inflicted with MBD.

    Quote Originally Posted by CCConstrictors View Post
    I had some try to sell me a boa with the same deformations as you described with the ribs and such but a little more dramatic. The boa was also a little older and bigger with a flattened body shape. It was the guy off CL in St Pete. He tried to tell there was nothing wrong with it.
    It saddens me when I hear/read of stories about people who try to sell animals with special needs conditions. He may have been right by saying ďthere was nothing wrong with itĒ in terms of it living fine like this in its cage. For all intensive purposes my sunglow so far is thriving just like my other three 2010 babies. In fact itís put on a little more size than the cherry salmon aby than it was shipped with under the same feeding schedule. Perhaps in time the condition will either reverse itself or as the animal matures and builds muscle mass the condition will become even less apparent to the human eye and harder to feel in palpation.

    The problem arises when someone decides to use animals like this for breeding. It can either kill the animal or produce babies that can look fine and sell but months later begin to develop kinks. I feel Iím responsible to keep an animal such as this here in the collection and not pass on its DNA. If the animal improves and grows into a beautiful adult I will surely post pic of her all over the forum showing her off and what sheís had to face to get where she is. However, I will never endanger her life by attempting to get her pregnant or sell her to someone who will attempt it just because I think its just bad karma and not good for the boa gene pool.

    I know the word Karma and science don't go hand in hand but I'm a boa lover first and everthing else that comes with it ie breeding etc. etc. comes after.
    Alex Burgos

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