Thiaminases are enzymes that split/break down thiamine molecules and make them inactive. Thiamine is Vitamin B1. Enzymes are proteins produced by cells of living organisms, which can affect the regulation of the speed of certain organic reactions.
The substance thiaminase was discovered in 1932. When silver foxes (fur production) were fed daily with more than 10% raw fish the animals became paralysed. After Vitamin B1 was added to the food, the problems were over.
In general you can say that there are two types of thiaminase:
Type 1 – This is the most common form. Type 1 is a.o. found in fish, shellfish, ferns and some bacteria (including in certain intestinal bacteria of humans). This form is of interest to us.
Type 2 – Occurs in particular bacteria. I am not a dietitian or chemist or biologist, so I cannot tell you anything about this. But they seem not to be the trouble for us garter snake keepers.
Thiaminase the most active at temperatures between 30 and 40 ° C. (86 and 104 ° F.)
For the garter snake keeper it is important what you should do in order to prevent snakes to get sick by the thiaminase. Below you see the list of fish species/families do or do not contain thiaminase.
Actually it is quite simple. Heat all fish (frozen or fresh, this does not matter) about five minutes in water of about 80 ° C. and the thiaminase is inoperative. You can also add extra Vitamin B1 to the food. This is available at a pharmacy.
I used to heat the fish, but because the fish gets soft and soggy, I stopped this.
The biggest part of the fish that I feed is smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) and this contains thiaminase. Every 3th or 4th feeding I add a multivitamin on the smelt and since a few years I also add some vitamin b1 . I do not heat the smelt. Next to smelt, I also feed the snakes with pinkies (only a few times to pregnant females and to juveniles), chicken heart, chicken stomach, chicken liver, etc. If you only give thiaminase containing fish to your snakes, you run undoubtedly more risk. It may also depend on the species to which extent they are sensitive for thiaminase.
In this film you see a garter snake that presumably suffers from thiaminase in an early stadium.
If your snakes are suffering from thiaminase you see that by the following.
By the shortage of Vitamin B1 the muscles of the lower body get paralysed. At the same time the back muscles contract normal. This leads to the strange snake-movements. Sometimes a little corkscrew-like and jerky, but usually they are doing their head up high and do this too far which makes them fall over.
When you see these symptoms you need to act immediately. Injections with thiamine (Vitamin B1) usually solve the problem. Don’t experiment but go to you vet!
If the snake that is suffering from thiaminase still wants to eat, you can also put pure Vitamin B1 on the food. This is only useful if the symptoms are not so severe yet. Over dosage does not happen easily because the surplus Vitamin B1 is largely excreted.
You can also solve Vitamin B1 in some water and syringes it through a injection syringe with of a tube into the oesophagus of the snake.
Ask for help if you are not sure how to do these things
Then look at what you are doing wrong in terms of the food that you give.
It is absolutely vital that you are immediately going to treat it as you see signs of thiaminase in your snakes. But do not get too scared for it. It does not happens often that garter snakes get thiaminase.
The fish species listed below were examined on whether or not they contain thiaminase.
This research is not done for garter snake lovers, but for the commercial breeding of minks.
But we can also take advantage of it…
|The fish species listed below do not contain Thiaminase|
|Scientific name||Water||English name|
|Ambloplites r. rupestris||fresh||Rock bass|
|Brosme brosme||Salt||Cusk or Tusk|
|Centropristis striatas||Salt||Sea bass|
|Christivomer n. namaycush||fresh||Great Lake trout|
|Cynoscion avenarius||Salt||Drum fish family|
|Cynoscion nothus||Salt||Drum fish family|
|Galeichthys felis||Salt||Marine catfish|
|Huro (Micropteris) salmoides||fresh||Large-mouthed black bass|
|Hypomesus olidus||fresh||Pond smelt|
|Leiostomus xanthurus||Salt||Spot croaker|
|Lepisosteus osseus oxyurus||fresh||Long-nosed gar|
|Lepomis gibbosus||fresh||Pumpkin-seed sunfish|
|Lepomis m. macrochirus||fresh||Bluegill|
|Leucichthys artedi areturus||fresh||Herring|
|Limanda ferruginea||Salt||Yellow-tail flounder|
|Loligo brevis||Salt||Short-bodied Squid|
|Menticirrhus americanus||Salt||Southern kingfish|
|Merluccius bilinearis||Salt||Silver hake|
|Micropogon undulatus||Salt||Atlantic Croaker|
|Micropterus d. dolomieu||fresh||Smallmouth bass|
|Mugil spec.||Salt||Mugilid mullets|
|Oncorhynchus kisutch||fresh||Coho salmon|
|Perca flavescens||fresh||Yellow purch|
|Plecoglossus altivelis||fresh||Ayu or sweetfish|
|Pollachius virens||Salt||Coal fish|
|Pomoxis nigromaculatus||fresh||Black crappie|
|Pseudopleuronectes americanus||Salt||Winter flounder|
|Pseudopleuronectes dignabilis||Salt||Georges bank flounder|
|Salmo gairdnerii irideus||fresh||Rainbow trout|
|Salmo trutta fario||fresh||Brown trout|
|Scomber scombrus||Salt||Atlantic mackerel|
|Sebastes marinus||Salt||Rose fish|
|Squalus acanthias||Salt||Spiny dogfish|
|Stizostedion v. vitreum||fresh||Walleye|
|Synodus foetens||Salt||Inshore Lizardfish|
|Tautoga onitis||Salt||Tautog or blackfish|
|Tautogolabrus adspersus||Salt||Bergall or cunner or conner|
|Trichiurus lepturus||Salt||Largehead hairtail or beltfish|
|Urophycis spec.||Salt||Phycid hakes|
|The fish species listed below do contain Thiaminase|
|Scientific name||Water||English name|
|Ameiurus melas melas||Fresh||Black Bullhead|
|Anchoa hepsetus||Salt||Broad-striped anchovy|
|Artica islandica||Salt||Artica islandica|
|Brevoortia patronus||Salt||Gulf menhaden|
|Brevoortia tyrannus||Salt||Atlantic menhaden|
|Campostoma anomalum pullum||Fresh||Central stoneroller|
|Catostomus c. commersonii||Fresh||White Sucker|
|Coregonus clupeaformis||Fresh||Lake whitefish|
|Cyprinus carpio||Fresh||Common carp|
|Dorosoma cepedianum||Fresh||American gizzard shad|
|Engraulis mordax||Salt||Northern anchovy|
|Belone belone||Salt||Garfish or sea needle|
|Gymnothorax ocellatus||Salt||Caribbean ocellated moray|
|Harengula pensacolae||Salt||Scaled sardine|
|Ictalurus lacustris punctatus||Fresh||Channel catfish|
|Ictiobus cyprinellus||Fresh||Bigmouth buffalo|
|Lepibema chrysops||Fresh||White bass|
|Lepimbema (Morone) chrysops||Fresh||White bass|
|Myoxocephalus quadricornis thompsonii||Fresh||Giant sculpin|
|Notropis hudsonius||Fresh||Spottail shiner|
|Notropus atherionoides||Salt||Buck eye shiner|
|Osmerus eperlanus||Salt||European smelt|
|Osmerus mordax||Salt||Rainbow smelt|
|Petromyzon marinus (adult)||Fresh||Sea lamprey|
|Pimephales promelas||Fresh||Fathead minnow|
|Placopecten grandis||Salt||Giant scallop|
|Pluerobema cordatum||Fresh||Mussell or bigtoe|
|Primephales p. promelas||Fresh||Fathead Minnow|
|Prosopium cylindraceum quadrialaterale||Fresh||Round Whitefish|
|Scomber japonicus||Salt||Chub mackerel|