Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Snakes on a … diet

Two of Pacific Science Center's boa constrictors, Esteban and Estella, just got some pleasant news from the scale. Esteban weighed in at 20.6 pounds (9.36 kilos), down from an all time high weight of 22 pounds in 2007. Estella has lost weight too – down to 24.8 pounds (11.27 kilos), from her highest weight of 26 pounds.

While our animal care staff normally looks at weight loss in our animals as alarming, in this case it was great news. Esteban’s weight is fairly good but slightly heavy, while Estella is decidedly overweight. We could not see her spine at all, and when she stayed still, her skin formed folds from the excess fat. Not only could her health be impacted, but also a heavy snake is harder to handle, leading to a cycle where she gets less handling, less exercise and less chance to lose weight.

Surprisingly, we were given the same advice that helps some people. Feed her smaller, more frequent meals. “Frequent” is relative here. She went from eating one rat every two weeks, to eating a smaller one weekly. We asked our presentation staff to make a point of getting her out for presentations. Being handled and held is a great form of healthy activity. Her weight seems to be nudging down, while her overall health is excellent.

How do we weigh the snakes? We weigh ourselves with and without a snake and subtract the difference. We use the giant scale in building 2, because it is there.

Luckily neither of the snakes is on the sun!

1 comment:

  1. It looks like everyone is happy the giant scale is working again!