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Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic

Snake Information Package


We are extremely proud of our clinic and of our team consisting of over 20 caring and experienced staff. We are dedicated to providing excellence in care for our patients and their families since 1972. Our entire team cares deeply for your pet and will treat them with caring hands and a tender voice; their comfort and well-being is why we are here every day.

We are also very involved in our community through our popular Junior Vet program which has been running since 2003, and wildlife triage that we offer at no cost. We are delighted to be one of the veterinary clinics providing patient care for the Northumberland Humane Society. 

Please check out our website at for more information on these programs and on our clinic and staff. We look forward to being your other family doctor!

Beyond What You See

Both Doctors and Staff have your pet's best interest at heart and strive to make their stay with us as pleasant as possible. We encourage you to accompany your pet to their kennel to allow you the opportunity to see where they will stay and to help them to settle in. Every pet has his or her own separate kennel or run, furnished with a clean, dry, comfy towel or blanket. If your pet has a "special toy” or “security blanket" feel free to bring it in with them.

If your pet is to have a general anesthetic we would like you to know that we minimize the risks by providing exemplary care during their stay. We highly recommend a pre-anesthetic blood screen prior to a general anesthetic. Just as your doctor would run a blood test before your procedure we do the same for your pet. A pre-anesthetic blood test is like an internal physical exam that will check organ function and help identify unknown diseases. For this blood work, we collect a small sample of blood that is sent to an outside lab. Blood work must be submitted at least 24 hours before the procedure.

Veterinarians will do a physical exam the morning of surgery to ensure that your pet is healthy before undergoing general anesthetic. Patients are assessed individually to determine which anesthetics will be safest for them. We have anesthetics available for all ages, from the very young to our senior patients. We also carry anesthetics specific to our work with exotic pets.

The doctors adhere to strict sterile techniques, complete with a cap, mask, sterile gown, and gloves when performing surgery. A separate sterile surgical pack is used for each procedure to avoid infection and cross-contamination. The animals are surgically prepared both at their incision and intravenous sites. This involves first shaving the hair, then cleaning the skin with antibacterial solutions.

Prior to the anesthetic, every animal is placed on intravenous fluids. Intravenous fluids are important to help maintain optimal blood pressure during surgery as well as provide access that will allow us to administer drugs if an anesthetic emergency arises.

While under anesthesia, every pet is connected to a Cardell monitor for carbon dioxide, blood pressure, and heart monitoring. Each pet is provided with a warming blanket to manage its temperature during the anesthetic. As well, our Registered Veterinary Technicians continually assess the animals, during both the anesthetic and recovery periods. During recovery one of our technicians or assistants sit with your pet to comfort them as they recover from the anesthetic.

We are acutely aware of the level of pain of our patients and have very current protocols in place to help manage their pain while in the hospital as well medications for use at home to keep them comfortable.

Uncomplicated surgery cases are discharged the same day. This allows the animal to rest at home, which is usually less stressful for both patient and owner. We do keep some animals overnight if they require bandaging after surgery. We recommend that more complicated cases be transferred to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Whitby for overnight observation.

If you have any questions or would like to tour our facility, please ask any one of our staff members. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we strive to provide the best service possible for you and your pet.

Owning a pet snake

General Information

Several species of snakes are commonly kept as pets. These include king snakes, garter snakes, Burmese pythons, various boa constrictors, and ball pythons. The needs of your particular species may differ from the needs of the generic "snake", so be sure to discuss any particulars with your veterinarian. The ball python will be used for this discussion, as it is one of the most common if not the most common species of pet snakes. Most of the information concerning the ball python is applicable to other terrestrial snake species.

Most snakes sold as pets are easy to handle and are usually non-aggressive. Many, especially the ball python, may not eat for weeks to months after the stress of going to a new environment. This can be normal, or can be a sign of a more serious disease that requires prompt veterinary attention.

Ideally, captive-bred animals should be purchased as pets. Wild caught snakes are less tolerant of stress, more likely to refuse to feed, and often harbor internal and external parasites.

Male and female snakes look identical; your veterinarian can carefully probe the cloacal area to determine the sex of your new pet. Hatchling ball pythons are about a foot long and grow to about 3 feet by 3 years of age. At maturity (reached in 3-5 years), adults reach 5-6 feet in length. Depending upon their care, ball pythons can live 10-20 years.

How do snakes differ anatomically from other pets?

  • Most snakes have only one functional, simple lung (usually the right lung). The lung extends most of the snake's entire body length.

  • Snakes have a cloaca, a common opening for the urinary, digestive, and genital tracts. By inserting a special probe in the cloacal area, a veterinarian can tell the sex of your snake.

  • Snakes have no limbs; many people feel the spurs that are present in the cloacal region of some snakes represent vestigial limbs.

  • Snakes have numerous pairs of ribs.

  • Snakes have a three-chambered heart; people, dogs, and cats have four-chambered hearts.

  • Snakes have no diaphragm; this prevents coughing and airway clearance, and snakes with simple respiratory infections easily develop pneumonia because of this. Respiratory infections in reptiles are always more serious than similar infections in mammals.

  • Males have two reproductive organs called hemipenes.

  • Snakes have spectacles instead of eyelids.

How do I select a snake?

Most owners buy snakes locally from a pet store, although mail ordering from reptile breeders is also common. If you buy a pet through the mail, make sure you know what you're getting! Ask about a guarantee if the pet isn't what you want.

Young, captive-raised animals make the best pets. Older imported animals are harder to tame, may harbor internal parasites, and often suffer from the stress of captivity. Avoid sick-looking animals. Don't try to be a "Good Samaritan."  Many sickly-looking snakes are terminally ill. Trying to nurse a sick snake back to health after purchasing it will rarely work. Just the stress of a new environment is often enough to kill a sick snake.

Start out right with a healthy pet. Avoid snakes that appear skinny, have loose skin or sunken eyes, and appear inactive or lethargic. A healthy snake is usually bright, active, and alert. The eyes should be clear; cloudy eyes usually indicate the snake is about to shed. While not a sign of illness, shedding is very stressful to snakes and it would be best to purchase a snake that is not about to shed. As you examine the eyes, check for mites, which are tiny black dots that often move. Make sure no lumps or bumps are present; simply running your hands slowly down the snake's body will allow you to detect any swellings. The vent or cloaca should be clean and free of wetness or stool stuck to it. If possible, GENTLY open the mouth. There should be a small amount of clear saliva present, and a pink tongue and oral cavity. Mucus that is cloudy or "cottage cheese" in appearance is a sign of mouth rot, as is redness or pinpoint hemorrhages on the mucus membranes. Always inquire about the guarantee in case the snake is found to be unhealthy.

My snake looks healthy?  Does he need to see the veterinarian?

Within 48 hours of your purchase, your snake should be examined by a qualified reptile veterinarian. The visit includes determining the animal's weight, as well as checking for lumps and bumps. The animal is examined for signs of dehydration and starvation. A fecal test is done to check for internal parasites. Many veterinarians consider all snakes (even those bred in captivity) to have some type of parasite, so your snake may be routinely dewormed. The oral cavity is examined for signs of infectious stomatitis (mouth rot). No vaccines are required for snakes. Your doctor may recommend blood tests, cultures, or radiographs (X-rays) to check for other diseases. If the exam  turns out well, your snake will be given a clean bill of health. Like all pets, snakes should be examined and have their feces tested for parasites annually.

Housing your pet snake

What type of cage does my snake require?

Smaller juvenile pets often do well in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium, or even plastic shoeboxes (cut small air holes!). As your snake grows, he must be moved to more comfortable enclosures. These can often be purchased or built by the pet owner. Your veterinarian or pet store may have examples of these larger enclosures to give you an idea of the proper habitat for an adult snake.

Does my snake need bedding in his cage?

Substrate, or bedding material, should be easy to clean and nontoxic to the snake. Newspaper, butcher paper, towels, or preferably Astroturf is recommended. When using Astroturf, buy two pieces and cut them to fit the bottom of the cage. With two pieces, one is placed in the cage and one is kept outside the cage and is always clean. When the turf inside the cage becomes soiled, you'll always have a clean, dry piece to replace it. Clean the soiled turf with ordinary soap and water (avoid harsher products unless your reptile veterinarian approves them), thoroughly rinse it, and hang it to dry to be used at the next cage cleaning. AVOID sand, gravel, wood shavings, corn cob material, walnut shells, and cat litter, as these are not only difficult to clean but can cause impaction if eaten on purpose or accidentally should the food become covered by these substrates. Cedar wood shavings are toxic to reptiles!

What else do I need in the cage?

Natural branches are enjoyed by the snake. Make sure they are secure and won't fall onto the snake and injure it. Ideally, the branch should slope from the bottom of the enclosure to the top and end near a heat source so the snake can bask. Rocks (large ones) in the cage also allow for basking. A hiding place is appreciated by all reptiles and should be available. Artificial plants can be arranged to provide a hiding place, as can clay pots, cardboard boxes, and other containers that provide a secure area.

A heat source is necessary for all reptiles, which are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and need a range of temperatures to regulate their internal body temperature. Ideally, the cage should be set up so that a heat gradient is established, with one area of the tank warmer than the other end. In this way, the snake can move around its environment and warm or cool itself as needed. Purchase two thermometers and place one at the cooler end of the cage and one at the warmer end near the heat source. The cooler end of the cage should be approximately 70 o -75 o F (21 o - 24 o C), while the warmer end should be 90 o -95 o F (32 o -38 o C). An inexpensive way to do this is to supply a focal heat source using a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a reflector hood, although pet stores sell other types of heat lamps. Your heat source should be placed OUTSIDE and above one end of the cage, which should be covered by a screen top to prevent the snake from escaping or burning itself on the bulb. At night, heat is not necessary as long as the temperature remains at 65 o –70 o F (18 o -21 o C).

Heating pads can also be used for warmth; speak with your veterinarian to learn the correct way to use them if you choose this form of heating.

"Hot Rocks" or "Sizzle Rocks" are dangerous, ineffective, and should be avoided! 

What about UV light?

While UV light is necessary to provide Vitamin D-3 for most reptiles, veterinarians are divided about the need for UV light for snakes. This is because snakes consume whole prey as the diet, and the prey is "nutritionally balanced" for snakes. However, providing UV light would not be harmful and may be beneficial, so it would probably be wise to provide some type of UV light such as a Vita-Lite. Speak with your veterinarian about their feelings regarding the need for UV light for your snake.

Feeding your snake

What do snakes eat?

Unlike most pets, snakes eat whole prey items including mice, rats, gerbils, and hamsters. Larger snakes will also eat whole rabbits. Since snakes eat entire prey items, this simplifies things for snake owners and most certainly prevents many dietary-related diseases so commonly seen in other reptiles. However, it does present a problem. Namely, you must provide some type of prey to the snake. If you're squeamish about killing rodents for your snake and then watching it eat the prey, a snake is probably not the pet for you!

Ideally, your snake should be provided either a thawed, previously frozen prey item, or a freshly killed one. It is not recommended to feed live prey to snakes for several reasons. First, the prey obviously knows it is prey and unless killed and eaten immediately, it certainly suffers some psychological stress. Second, and surprising for most snake owners, is the fact that even a small mouse can severely injure and even kill a snake if the snake isn't hungry!  For humane reasons, strongly consider feeding dead prey. The only exception would be if you know that your snake will immediately kill and eat the prey and you will watch the snake do this. Even with this care, there is still a slight possibility of injury to the snake. Unweaned, infant prey (pinkie mice), are safe to feed alive to smaller, younger snakes.

How often should I feed my snake?

That all depends upon the size and age of your pet. Smaller snakes usually eat twice each week, and larger snakes eat once every week to once every few weeks. Follow your veterinarian's guidelines. Your pet snake will also tell you how often he needs to eat by his response to your feeding schedule.

My snake won't eat! What's wrong?

There are many causes of anorexia, or failure to eat in pet snakes. These could be benign causes such as the stress of a new environment, shedding, pregnancy, or breeding season anorexia. Failure to eat could also be a sign of a more serious problem such as cancer, kidney failure, gout, or parasites. Your veterinarian can help determine the cause of your snake's anorexia after a thorough physical examination and appropriate laboratory testing.

Do I need to give my snake vitamins?

As a rule, no. However, since your snake "is what he eats", it's important to make sure that your snake's prey is healthy and well fed. Many owners raise their own rodents for feeding to their snakes for this reason. If you'd like, it probably wouldn't hurt to insert a multi-vitamin/mineral tablet into the stomach or abdomen of the dead prey prior to feeding your snake, but check with your veterinarian about this first.

What about water?

Fresh water in a crock that won't easily tip over should be available at all times. Snakes will not only drink from the water bowl but will often bathe in it as well (although it is perfectly acceptable to mist the snake with water a few times a week too). Make sure the water stays clean; many snakes love to eliminate in their water bowl as well as drink from it.

The Colubrid (typical) snakes

The Colubridae comprises the largest family of snakes, with over one thousand species. The vast majority are harmless, although they may bite. Some colubrids are small insectivorous species while others can be larger predominantly constrictor snakes such as the racer and the indigo snake. Many are colorful attractive snakes, which make good relatively undemanding pets.

The Corn Snake

This commonly available snake, Elaphe guttata, is a yellow to gray snake with a series of red to brown circumferential marks. The snake is easy to handle and adapts to captivity well. Mice should make up the majority of the diet and a temperature of 25 -30°C (77 -86°F) should be maintained, but will stand marginally cooler weather in winter. Corn snakes breed well in captivity with around 10-15 eggs. Incubated at 28°C (82°F) these hatch in around 70 days and, if big enough will take newborn pinky mice straight away. After 2-3 years they reach sexual maturity.

The Rat Snake

A number of subspecies of Elaphe obselata are available from the dark Texas Rat Snake, the jet black Black Rat Snake with its white chin to the slender Yellow Rat Snake and the Everglades Rat Snake which is a beautiful orange color. All these subspecies are generally healthy snakes that take well to captivity. Being arboreal they require branches on which to climb and rest.

King Snakes

These species, such as the common kingsnake Lampropeltis getulus that has several subspecies, are well-marked and robust animals. They require large cages kept at around 25-30°C  (77-86°F) and although they rarely climb they need hiding places. Their food in captivity should be mice, which they constrict and eat. Kingsnakes are so-called as they have been known to eat other snakes. Large and small kingsnakes should not be housed together, for fear of ending up only with a smaller number of well-fed larger snakes!

Milk Snakes

Lampropeltis triangulum is a tricolored snake with black and red circumferential rings on a yellow background. It is generally felt that they are rather more delicate than other Lampropeltis species and since they come from quite a wide geographical range they need a similar variation in temperature. Northern species can be hibernated at 6 -10°C  (42 -50°F) while more southern species only tolerate a drop of 5 -10°C (41 -50°F) from their normal temperature range.

The Grass Snake

This olive green snake, Natrix natrix, is a native of Great Britain but while it exists happily at temperatures found in the UK some individuals do not adapt to captivity at all well. The snake requires a diet of fish and amphibians but is probably better not maintained in captivity as a first snake because of this tendency for poor adaptation.

Garter Snakes

There are many species of the genus Thamnophis, the Garter snake and generally they are easy to care for, respond well to handling and are active and diurnal, making them ideal snakes in captivity. Thamnophis marcianus, the Chequered Garter snake is a particularly attractive snake and while it may be found in dry regions of North and Central America it always requires water, in conjunction with other Garter snakes. Western subspecies are more terrestrial in habit than are the Eastern species of the Common Garter snake and have a diet more directed to mammals than fish.

Just a study of this one genus could be a fascinating life's work!

Constrictor snakes

The Boa Constrictor and the Pythons are large non-venomous snakes, which kill by constriction. They are popular vivarium reptiles and most species have few problems with captivity as long as a reasonable temperature is maintained. They need a good size enclosure and as long as the owner is prepared for the size and longevity of the animal they can be a rewarding pet.

Boa constrictor

This snake originates from Central and South America and can grow to 4 m. (13 feet) on a diet of rodents, chickens and, when larger, rabbits. In the wild boas spend much of their time in trees and thus they need a tall vivarium with plenty of access to branches for climbing. It is an unusual boa which does not take dead prey items with alacrity. Boa constrictors may live up to 40 years. They reach sexual maturity once they become around 1.5 m. (5 ft) in length. Live young are born around 6 months after mating. Right from the start they are able to eat mice and rarely present problems in management as long as steps are taken to mirror their natural environment and tree-climbing habits.

Rainbow boa

Epicrates cenchria is, as its common name suggests, one of the most colorful of the boids, especially immediately after shedding. The subspecies from Brazil is predominately red while others tend to be more a brown than a red color. Again it originates from Central and South America. Gestation in this breed is about 5 months and newborn babies are around 60 cm (25 in.) long and adults reach up to 2 m (6.5 feet) in length. This species needs a temperature of between 24°-30°C (75°-86 °F). The diet of the Rainbow boa is predominantly small mammals and birds.

Indian python

This species, Python molurus, is the classic old world constrictor equivalent of the boa constrictor. It is relatively easy to maintain, the only drawback being its substantial size. While the New World boas grow to around 4.3 m. (13 feet) the pythons may reach up to 6.5 m. (21 feet) long. Their diet should be large rodents, rabbits and chickens but one problem can be overfeeding. A python that is fed on a weekly basis but does not have to hunt for its dinner may eventually result in morbid obesity where the intracoelomic fat body is very large and there is fatty infiltration of the liver and kidneys, precluding normal function. Female pythons will breed, stimulated by a reduction in light and day length. The eggs will be laid approximately 3 months from mating. The female will incubate the eggs for around 70 days until the eggs hatch. The young will molt and after that initial ecdysis will eat. Within 18 months they can be mature.

Royal python

The Royal python, Python regius, originates in Africa and is also known as the ball python since it readily curls into a ball when threatened. The snake is attractive but is difficult to keep given that long periods of inappetance are more likely than not to be encountered. While mice are a preferred food it is often the case that white laboratory mice appear not to be recognized as a prey item. In such cases a brown gerbil may provoke the animal to break its fast.

Reticulated python

Probably the world's longest snake Python reticulatus has a striking series of diamond-shaped yellow patches down its back and flanks marked with brown, black, cream and purple. All this makes it a very desirable animal to keep but in fact the snake is, in the words of a trusty author 'irascible and untrustworthy' and as such grows to be 'a most difficult animal to handle safely'. It feeds on larger mammals as well as rodents but while it does not have the anorexic problems of the Royal python, it can be frustratingly difficult to breed in captivity.


There are many other species of python and boa but those noted here are among the easier ones to keep. Snakes like the Reticulated Python can be dangerous and the Royal Python is a frustratingly anorexic pet. Perhaps it is better to choose the classic Boa constrictor and the Indian or Burmese python as a first constrictor snake to keep.

Special problems

General Information

Snakes have several unique problems; understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems.


Anorexia means lack of appetite or refusal to feed. Snakes commonly exhibit anorexia. Anorexia can be a "normal" condition, often associated with pregnancy, the breeding season, incorrect environment, incorrect diet, or most commonly the stress of a new environment. "Abnormal" anorexia is most often caused by a disease such as infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), parasites, kidney failure, or gout. Your veterinarian will need to perform a thorough physical examination and run laboratory tests in order to make sure your snake's anorexia is not caused by a specific disease. Getting the snake that suffers from "normal" anorexia to eat is a challenge but is usually successful with time and patience.


While turtles are most commonly incriminated in spreading Salmonella bacteria to their owners, any reptile, including snakes, can carry the bacterium. This bacterium can cause severe gastrointestinal disease or septicemia (blood poisoning). Many animals and people carry the bacteria without showing any clinical signs (remember Typhoid Mary?), yet shed the bacteria in their feces which can infect others.

Prevention, through proper hygiene, is the best way to control the disease. Since most snakes which carry Salmonella are not ill, they usually require no treatment (treatment often fails to kill the bacterium anyway).

Lumps and Bumps

  • Snakes are commonly seen with various lumps and bumps either on their bodies or within their bodies.

  • Various conditions can cause these lumps and bumps. External lumps could be caused by infections, as is the case with abscesses, tumors, or parasites. Internal swelling can be caused by various organ problems (such as kidney disease, parasitic infections of the stomach), retained eggs in some species of snakes, tumors, and even constipation!

  • Your veterinarian may need to run certain tests to determine the cause of the specific swelling. Once the cause of the swelling is known, the doctor will decide if medical or surgical therapy will best solve the problem. Many lumps and bumps are benign and do not pose a life-threatening risk to your snake. Others can be signs of more serious disease. The sooner your snake is examined, the better its chances of recovery.

Mite treatment

Snake mites can have a serious effect on their host and need to be treated very thoroughly to prevent reinfestation. Mites in large numbers can cause debilitation and anemia in snakes and can also carry bacteria which cause pneumonia or intestinal infections.

Our ideal treatment protocol lasts for one month and includes:

  1. Two ivermectin injections two weeks apart to eliminate blood-sucking mites.

  2. Soak the snake in lukewarm water for 12 hours once weekly for 4 weeks. place a small rock in the water to serve as a headrest.

  3. Maintain the snake on newspaper only, which is changed daily for the duration of the mite treatment - it is not beautiful but it is not forever!

  4. During each soak, clean out the aquarium with a solution of one part bleach to 30 parts water and allow to dry completely, then spray lightly with a mild pyrethrin - ONLY based flea spray and allow to air out for several hours before replacing the snake.

  5. Suspend a Vapona No Pest Strip (available at hardware stores) within the aquarium in such a way that the snake cannot come into direct contact with it. The recommended safe dosage for these strips is 6mm strip per 0.28 cubic meters (10 cubic feet), i.e. an aquarium that measures 4 feet long by 2 feet high by 2 feet wide is 16 cubic feet and therefore would require a 9.6mm or approximately 1 cm of strip. Place the strip on the wire lid of the cage or in a suspended box with holes (film canister works well) for 4 days. Remove the water dish during this time, then replace water and repeat the process in 14 days. Please Note: Some people are slightly sensitive to Vapona No Pest Strips. In the presence of freshly opened and exposed strips, these people may complain of headache or nausea. To lessen the possibility of this reaction, the strips should be handled only with gloves and left outside for a few hours before they are placed in the reptiles quarters. Also there is some current research which suggests that some mites may be developing a resistance to Vapona Strips, and that very occasionally snakes seem to exhibit lethargy or neurological signs when exposed to the strip. However, most reptile veterinarians are still recommending the Vapona No Pest Strip as an effective and safe product when used properly.

  6. You can bake any cage furniture at 350 degrees F (176.7 C) for 15 minutes or soak it in the 1:30 part bleach solution overnight if you wish to reuse it.

  7. To prevent recurrence of mites, isolate any new snakes for 3 months, disinfect anything brought in from outside (see #6) and ensure you purchase "clean" mice from reputable sources, although if your snake will eat thaws prey, freezing mice will help reduce the possibility of a mite reinfestation.

Common diseases of pet snakes

What are the common diseases of pet snakes?

Common conditions of pet snakes include infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), parasites, respiratory disease, difficulty shedding, and septicemia.

What are the signs of these diseases?

  • Infectious stomatitis (mouth rot) is seen as pinpoint hemorrhages on the gums or an excess amount of thick mucous, often like cottage cheese, in the mouth. In severe cases, the snake will exhibit a severe swelling of the mouth and exhibit open-mouth breathing.

  • Both internal parasites (various worms and coccidian) and external parasites (ticks and mites) are often encountered in pet snakes. They often cause no clinical signs and are detected on an annual fecal examination. They may, however, cause diarrhea, breathing difficulties, regurgitation, swelling of internal organs, itching, mouth rot (mites can transmit the bacteria that cause mouth rot), or weight loss.

  • Most respiratory infections are caused by bacteria, and in snakes, are often seen in conjunction with mouth rot. Snakes with respiratory infections may have excess mucous in their oral cavities, nasal discharges, lethargy ad loss of appetite ad possibly open-mouth breathing and wheezing.

  • Some snakes have difficulty shedding. Often this is due to improper environment, temperature, or humidity. A special concern is a snake with retained spectacles (eye caps). The spectacles are normally shed during the shedding process. When they are not shed but rather retained, your veterinarian should be consulted about removal. Improper removal can result in permanent eye damage and blindness.

  • Septicemia or toxemia is a condition where microbes such as bacteria or toxins invade the bloodstream and other body organs. Snakes with septicemia are critically ill and are often near death. They exhibit lethargy, lack of appetite open-mouth breathing, and often have a red discoloration on the scales of their bellies.

How can I tell if my snake is sick?

Signs of disease in snakes may be specific for a certain disease, such as a cottage-cheese type discharge in the mouth of a snake with mouth rot, or nonspecific, such as snake with anorexia (lack of appetite) and lethargy, which can be seen with many diseases. ANY deviation from normal should be a cause for concern and requires immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

How are snake diseases treated?

  • Infectious Stomatitis (mouth rot), usually requires injectable antibiotics, as well as rinsing the mouth with antibiotic solutions. Atropine (to reduce the thickness of the oral secretions) and vitamin C may also be needed.

  • Several deworming medications are available either as an oral or injectable drug. The type of parasite identified on the microscopic fecal examination will determine which drug is needed. Some parasite problems such as cryptosporidiosis may be difficult if not impossible to treat.

  • Respiratory infections are most often caused by bacteria; other organisms, including parasites, can cause respiratory problems as well. Your veterinarian may want to do radiographs (x-rays), blood tests, and cultures to determine the cause of the infection. Occasionally, allergies can cause nasal discharge as well. Treatment for true infections involved antibiotics given orally or as injections, and possibly nose drops. Sick snakes require intensive care, including fluid therapy and force-feeding in the hospital.

  • Shedding problems (retained skin and eye caps) can usually be treated by providing extra humidity to allow the snake to shed the retained skin. Your veterinarian should be consulted about various ways to increase the humidity and aid in the removal of the skin and eye caps so that no permanent damage is done to your pet snake.

  • Septicemia is a true emergency that requires aggressive treatment in the hospital. Antibiotics, fluid therapy, and force-feeding are needed in an attempt to save the snake.

  • any of these diseases can be severe enough to cause a loss of appetite and lethargy. When seen, these signs indicate a guarded prognosis and the need for hospitalization and intensive care, which can include fluid therapy and force-feeding.

Any of these diseases can be severe enough to cause a loss of appetite and lethargy. When seen, these signs indicate a guarded prognosis and the need for hospitalization and intensive care, which can include fluid therapy and force-feeding.