March 29, 2019
It is with a very heavy heart that I have some devastating news to share
First, let me say me and my partner have put everything we have into our animals. They are pets first, we can tell them all apart at a glance - even normal hatchlings. We name all of our animals. Most of what we make goes back into ensuring our animals have the highest care and quality of life.
We have always been extremely selective with who we purchase from, (only reputable, respected breeders.) Our animals are all quarantined, for 3 – 6 months. Inspected regularly, their enclosures are kept immaculate, vet visits happen when we suspect anything. I can only work part-time due to medical reasons, but I have never let this interfere with any of our animals. We sanitize everything with bleach and F10, careful with any chance of cross-contamination. At expos we always have clients sanitize before touching any of our animals, the same goes for house visitors. We don’t board animals, for fear of even the chance of cross-contamination.
We are paranoid to the tenth degree over quality, and the fear of contamination, as we have seen over the years how easy it is to contract deadly reptile diseases and have them spread through a collection like wildfire.
We Hold back babies far longer than most breeders, just to be extra sure they are eating fantastic, and are as healthy as possible.
When I am not working with our animals, I am drawing them, writing care sheets and spending countless hours helping folks who have not even bought from us. We both live for our animals. It is my passion inside and out.
What with the Cryptosporidium scares and all the new info about it coming to light, plus finally a clear way of testing, we wanted to play it safe and send a bunch of tests away just to put our minds at ease. We never expected to get anything dire back.
Much like any breeder, we have experienced losses over time, we have always been forthright and never hidden this. We have talked about these loses with the public, and other breeders, far more knowledgeable than ourselves, and have heard time and time again how common it is to lose hogs for seemingly no reason. Most of our losses have been pretty cut and dry. AKA things like egg binding.
We pride ourselves in keeping healthy animals that eat very regularly (even for hogs) keep consistent weight, and do all the things a snake is supposed to do. That is why I was so shocked that during the time of collecting enough faecal matter to send away for the Crypto tests, one of our breeding males suddenly dropped a ton of weight, we quarantined immediately, pulling him from breeding. He had fishy smelling diarrhea. Which I have never run into. (No regurging, or swelling) but also had no appetite either. Within two weeks, (the start of when he showed any changes) he went downhill the fastest I have ever seen, and promptly died.
We were not able to get a decent faecal sample from him within that time, so as advised by RAL labs, we did two swabs post mortem. This snake was never a strong eater, but never looked or acted sickly, if anything, he had been gaining weight nicely shortly prior.
We sent away 7 samples to RAL as soon as we could. Monday, March 25, 2019, at very late at night we got the results in. 3/7 samples we sent away tested positive for Crypto.
We are beyond devasted. The male who suddenly died tested positive for Crypto. The female he was bread to, showing no signs of Crypto, tested positive as well. The third had never been bred to that male, being from a different morph list, and has added to the devastation due to having shown no signs of Crypto either, but also tested positive.
We have had three males in quarantine this year, each for their own reason.
1, was in quarantine only for a very short 2 weeks before he died. He was placed in quarantine the moment he seemed off. (That is the snake that has been mentioned and tested.)
2, had lost some weight but has remained a great eater. He has had some diarrhea, with no other symptoms. This male is almost fully back to full health, and has gained almost all his lost weight back., and has tested fully negative for Crypto. Along with a few other common problems we also tested for. He will need two more tests, to be sure he does not have Crypto. Due to Cryptos’ life cycle, sometimes tests show negative, hence why it is suggested to do 3 tests over 3 months time, for each animal.
3, We imported him during brumation time, he continued his brumation after arrival and refused food once out of brumation. Not so strange for a breeding weight male looking for a female. He came from a trusted breeder, and when we were told he was a fantastic eater, we believed him (and still do!) due to the size and weight and condition of him. However, his first poop which was tiny and barely noticeable was too watery, closer to diarrhea than stool, so we pulled him from breeding and put him in quarantine until he would eat more. Since then, he has started to take live food and his stool has firmed up. Never has had regurged at all in our care. I sooner think the mild diarrhea was my fault for brumating him for not long enough, at a cool enough temperature. (We were trying a different approach to brumating this year.)
We wanted to test him with the small batch we did, but due to his hunger strike, we had no poop to test. Now that he is eating, his sample will be sent along with the rest of the collection.
Aside from the three males mentioned, the rest of our animals have been acting fantastic.
We have always tried our best to keep as little as possible chance of cross contamination between any of our animals, but somehow, I guess it happened, that or they have been silently carrying.
Over the course of this year, We will be testing every single animal here at least 3 times and then doing random monthly tests as a regular part of our care. We still have no clue how this happened. We have gone above and beyond to keep this nightmare from happening and it still did.
We are still very much trying to process it all. Both the scientific side, where we could have gone wrong, and the grief of it all.
Aside from the first snake mentioned that had such an insane decline, none of our animals has met the common outline of what to expect for signs and symptoms of Crypto. I need you all to know this, because I know like us, there is a TON of dedicated keepers and breeders who love their animals more than life itself, and like us, have gone above and beyond to ensure their animal’s well-being, but also like us likely don’t/didn’t have the slightest expectation that this could be present in healthy presenting animals.
I want to use this hard lesson to urge everyone to test regularly, and not just breeders, but keepers, and wholesalers too. If we caught this, regardless of how picky we are, I can only imagine what is in collections that are all too commonly bought by whim, and from unknown sources, with minimal precautions taken.
I will not point fingers at anyone or speculate who I think we got Crypto from. We honestly have no clue. We have carefully picked our animals from respected breeders across the world to ensure genetic diversity and health.
Our hearts are truly broken. I feel like we failed our animals, and now will be putting our past clients through turmoil. We are truly sorry.
We will be trying our best to clean up this mess and to remain ever honest and forthright with how we plan to go forward, for ourselves, our animals, our clients, and the hobby itself.
As it stands, this is our current to-do list. As we learn more from dealing with this, I expect to make adaptations to this list.
- Notify clients who have deposits for animals at the upcoming expos. (Done)
- Fully – refund all down deposits for the two upcoming expos. (Done)
- Alert our clients on our fb pg., and our website that we have this, as well as highly encouraging them, and everyone else to get their animals tested, three times, over three months. (Done)
- Cancel this year’s expos (Done)
- Getting all of our animals tested, which includes more tests for the ones who have already been tested.
- I may try re-testing the ones that tested positive from a diff company before I cull, just in case.
- Everywhere has been showing that eggs cannot carry Crypto, so we will be fully quarantining the hatchlings away from existing animals, these future babies will also be tested.
- We will not be having ANY reptiles come in, or leave here, until we have back all results from at least 3 tests of each animal, even then, we will likely wait for further tests. Or a year of clean tests coming consistently back.
- If we continue breeding, we may be looking at implementing crypto certification of health with each baby sale.
We are open and seeking advice from the community. We have never dealt with anything like this before. Hell, I swear on my grandmother’s grave - we have not even had a single case of mites here.
We need advice on how to ensure our racks, and reptile room can be deemed clean and clear. I have started the process of taking all of the animals off their bedding and swapping them onto paper towel.
I am not sure if this is needed but, we will be tearing out the carpet in our living room, which is where our hogs are.
A lot of my prior research had shown F10 to be effective against Crypto, but as the info with Joe Schmit came about folks were saying that even F10 is now considered not to be enough. JJ and I have been doing extra research and are reading that peroxide or Ammonia soaked for 20 minutes kills 90% crypto. Some folks had suggested hand steamers, but there seems to not be any scientific info on how long a steamer would need to be used, what temp etc. There is far too much speculation surrounding this topic.
I also need to know what is the best way of in general saving what we can of our animals.
We have done no sales internationally for those of you who may be concerned that way.
Again, we profoundly apologize for the turmoil this has caused and will be doing everything possible to make it right. I have been extremely ill from all of this, and it is taking time going back and forth with professionals to figure out what is fact or fiction. We wanted to get enough base information so that we were not culling or causing fear over potential false positives. We are bringing this to everyone’s attention as fast as possible.
The 7 animals we sent for testing are all adults.
We tested for these types of Crypto:
Cryptosporidium saurophilum (Lizard) All came back negative for this one.
Cryptosporidium serpentis (Snake)
The animals that we tested for have been in our care for years, and as already mentioned were not showing crypto signs up until that male suddenly dropped on us.
We have never once heard from any of our clients of their animals becoming ill and or dying.
From talking to people about this, it is becoming more and more evident that this can hide without signs in animals for longer than a year, possibly two years.
Info I have learned since last night (March 28, 2019)
- It has been suggested by a vet to send one of the positive animal’s samples to a different Lab to extra check. To my knowledge it is not possible to have a false positive, regardless, we will be doing a second opinion just in case.
- It has been suggested by someone who has been dealing with Crypto to do the following in terms of trying to deep sanitize everything.
- Gloves - put on fresh gloves for each rack and between species.
- NEVER move bins/tubs within the rack into a different spot. If I've had a snake euthanized, nothing goes into that spot until the rack has been thoroughly steam cleaned. That seems to be the best way to sanitize.
A Hand steamer that reaches 205 degrees and the required temperature is minimum of 165. I'm well above that and go over the whole "ceiling" 3 times on each level. Tubs are sprayed with 12% hydrogen peroxide, left to sit for 30 minutes, then washed in dawn dish soap. 15 qt and smaller then go into my dishwasher, on steam/sanitize cycle. That's a 3-hour cycle, I don't think anything survives that. Bigger tubs get hit with the steamer after hydrogen peroxide/dawn.
Steamer - https://smile.amazon.com/HS-20R-Handheld-Steam-Cleaner-Attachments/dp/B006MCMSW8/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=haan+steamer&qid=1553823119&s=gateway&sr=8-8
It does not turn the room into a sauna, like some worry. But you would want to have the rack completely empty - or at least 3 shelves above the one you're steaming.
This is the Lab that I initially did tests with RAL, but I think I will also be doing tests with the one under it.
As always, if anyone has information to help with this it is more than appreciated.