Every pet gets sick at some point and snakes are no different. The fact that they can easily live in excess of 20 years means they have a lot more time to get sick than many other animals. If you recognize that your snake has become sick it is important to know what to do.
- A sick snake needs immediate attention
- A snake can’t communicate with us by way of verbalization, and it doesn’t have a body language that we can understand. This makes it important to take action promptly because there’s a good chance it has been ill for a while.
- If you’re not a vet don’t pretend to be
- Most people like to take a wait and see approach when it comes to medical issues. Both with themselves and with their animals. If your snake is sick your first step should be to contact your veterinarian for guidance. Be sure to offer the following information:
- The age of the snake (as best as you know it)
- Species of the snake
- Approximate length and weight of the animal
- Last meal it had (date and what was eaten)
- Last time your snake shed
- Last time it went to the bathroom
The vet will very likely ask you additional questions about the snake’s appearance and behavior so it is best to make the call while observing the snake. Then do what the vet tells you to do. If you are told to bring it in trust their judgment as a professional and take it in. If you don’t trust them then you might want to start looking for a different vet now before you have to deal with a sick pet.
- What to do when the vet isn’t in and your snake is sick
- Maybe it is the weekend, or a holiday. Could be your vet is just taking a vacation. Whatever the reason if you can’t get in touch with them you can either try contacting another vet or handling the problem on your own. Contacting another vet is the best course of action and most towns and cities (in the United States) have a system in place where certain vets are on call for emergencies after hours and on holidays. The downside is that you will normally pay a little more than a regular visit during working hours.
If you find it necessary to deal with the illness yourself there are some things that you can do to help. First of all your safety comes first. Observe safe handling rules. In other words do NOT put yourself at risk trying to work with a large snake without help
- Make sure the snake is in a quiet area
- Double check temperatures and humidity in the cage
- Don’t handle your pet more than necessary
- Observe the snake for further signs of illness
- Don’t feed it, but make sure it has fresh clean water
- Be patient because the snake will probably be uncomfortable and defensive
- Indications your snake may be sick
- These are some common indications that your snake is possibly sick. Remember, unless you are a veterinarian you shouldn’t presume one way or another but these symptoms should make you take notice. These are also not the only symptoms you may see. Just some that are common.
- Wheezing and/or saliva around the snake’s mouth: Indication of Respiratory Infection (RI)
- “Star gazing”; This is when the head and neck of the snake is raised nearly straight up as if they were looking at stars: Indication of Inclusion Body Disease
- Incomplete or patchy sheds. A healthy, properly kept snake will shed in one piece: This doesn’t indicate a specific illness just a general concern
- Blisters or abscesses: Infection and/or scale rot
As a final word please note that none of the advise you find in here, or anywhere else online is an appropriate substitute for a trained, qualified professional. This is meant to give you a starting point, but as quickly as possible get your vet involved and follow their guidance in caring for your sick pet snake.