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Common Snake Illnesses

Learn about common snake illnesses in this Howcast video about pet snakes.


Some of the more common illnesses that occur in our pet snakes are actually things that we can avoid. One of the most common is burns. You should never use a heat rock, as a heat source for a snake because it's a focal heat, and you can't control it. And as these snakes, since they're cold-blooded, if you have a central area for the heat what they'll do is wrap around that heat rock and get burned, and you can have severe, severe burns. So never use a heat rock for a heat source. Also, be very careful that your heat sources above are separated with a screen or a spacer, because they'll get up close and actually burn themselves that way. That is probably one of the most common.

Equally common is getting bitten by their food. That is one of the reasons why you really should not feed live mice to your snake or if you do, you need to be right there monitoring and if that snake doesn't eat the mouse within a few minutes you need to take it out. You need to monitor. The reason why is if this guy's not hungry and he doesn't have an area to go. He's in a terrarium, the mouse is in there as well and the mouse is scared to death. Trying to find a place to hide, very defensive and literally, there's no food in there for him. They'll actually start to chew on the snake. It's very common and we've actually had them where they're severe through the skin, down into the muscle. So it's a very, very serious problem. Easy way of controlling it? Feed frozen or pre-killed baits.

Another one I'd like to talk about, especially in relationship to our pythons, is a disease called Inclusion Body Disease. It's a retrovirus. It's a viral disease. They can incubate it for sometimes months, so it's very, very important that if you get a new python or boa constrictor or any snake really, that it be quarantined for three to six months. And I know that sounds like a long time, but especially with these guys they can incubate the Inclusion Body Disease and it's always deadly. So it's not a little thing. You should keep your new snake away from your other snakes. You should handle and take care of your healthy snakes first, so you don't carry the virus on you to your healthy snakes.

Everybody who cares so much, they want to go take care of their sick ones and then go take care of their healthy ones. It's the exact opposite, take care of the good guys, they don't have any disease. and then you go take care of the snakes that you have in quarantine. They should be separate in a clean, sterilizable area. Inclusion Body Disease, this virus will start with infections in the mouth and it actually goes to the central nervous system, and the snakes will seizure. They won't right themselves, if you turn them on their back and then eventually die. It's contagious, so therefore remember it is very important to properly quarantine your new snakes, and there are a few illnesses that we need to be aware of with our pet snakes.

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