Welcome to our Ball Python Emergency Room
From time to time your ball may get sick or injured. Here we will detail the most common ailments that your balls may suffer from, and also how best to treat them.
Here is a list of the most common problems your ball may suffer from, we have included pictures to assist in identifying health issues.
Retained Eye Caps
Retained eye caps occur when the eye caps do not come off your ball when it sheds, They appear as a cracked, rippled or creased covering over the eye, very often you will also see a white line round the eye.
If the eye caps do not come off or if there are multiple retained eye caps then what you can do is to soak the snake in a container for 24 hours.
There must be air holes in the container lid and the water should be halfway up the
snakes body, also ensure that the water remains luke warm, around 24-
Once soaked you can gently peel off the eye caps or use an ear bud or tweezers to remove the eye caps. Be very careful if you attempt to remove the eye caps, if you do not feel comfortable doing then this seek out the assistance of someone who knows how to do it, or else take your snake to a vet.
Mites are nasty ecto-
You can also rinse your ball with warm water to wash away as many mites as possible.
Remember that if there are mites on your snake then there are mites in its enclosure, and you will have to deal with this.
The enclosure and hides, water bowl etc must be cleaned out with a solution of hot water and bleach, take care to clean out the corners carefully and also the top of the enclosure, mites head up when they lay their eggs. Also ensure that you rinse everything thoroughly to remove any bleach residue.
You must ensure that you do a very thorough job when dealing with mites as their eggs can lie dormant for ages and suddenly hatch.
The best way to deal with mites is to ensure that you do not bring them into your collection. Any new snakes must be quarantined for at least 3 months, this will allow you time to check for any pests or diseases.
Ticks are closely related to mites. They also suck blood but are much larger and easier to control than mites. Ticks appear as dark spots and are often found under the snakes scales or lodged between scales, another place to check for ticks is under the chin of your snake in the fold of skin.
Incomplete sheds are very easy to identify because the snake will be covered in bits of stuck skin, and your enclosure will have bits of shed all over it. The way your ball sheds is a good indicator of the environment it is kept in.
To up the humidity you can place the water bowl over where the heating pad is, this will cause the water to evaporate quicker thus increasing humidity. At Iron Balls we use small water sprayers and spray the enclosure of our balls that are in the shed cycle on a daily basis
If your ball has had a poor shed then the best way to remove the skin is to soak your snake for a few hours. Most often than not this will loosen and remove the stuck shed. You can also place a small towel in the soaking container to provide a rough surface which will aid in the snake removing the stuck shed.
A good shed
Snakes that shed in one piece are an indicator that your enclosure and husbandry are in good shape. Remember to check for the eye caps on a shed.
Live rodents that are used to feed ball pythons pose a risk and can cause severe injury or death to your ball python
If your ball receives a minor bite from a rodent then you should clean the wound
with a diluted anti-
For serious wounds you should seek out a qualified reptile vet as such wounds can quite easily become infected and can prove fatal.
Technically known as Infective Stomatitis, mouth rot is a condition that causes tissue in the snake’s mouth to become necrotic. It is a bacterial infection and can be identified almost as a ‘cottage cheese’ substance in the snakes mouth. Healthy gums are light pink in colour and owners should keep an eye out for red or white areas starting to form in the mouth as these may be a prelude to mouth rot. Signs are also an open mouth or mouth not closing properly
Scale rot is a condition that causes the belly scales in your ball to rot and potentially become infected. Belly scales will appear pink initially, this may continue resulting in the affected scales rotting and falling away, as a result infection may set in.
Direct exposure to heating pads, hot rocks, or heat lamps can quite quickly burn your ball. This heat kills the affected scales and leaves the door open to an infection.
A dirty moist enclosure allows the buildup of harmful bacteria which can attack exposed parts of your snake. These conditions promotes the rotting of scale tissue and allows infection to set in.
If your ball has scale rot you will need to take it to a vet. They will supply cleaning
solutions and antibiotics to care for your snake. Light scale rot can be treated
by applying an disinfecting antibiotic solution twice a day for 10 -
Burns and scale rot are linked together, with burns be a large cause of scale rot cases. Burns will appear as pink areas on the belly of your snake and as areas of skin deformation on the upper body parts of your snake.
Image courtesy -
Balls have primitive brains and they will not notice a warm surface being too hot if its instincts are telling it to ‘find heat’. Only once the damage is done will the ball move away as it realises that it is warming up to much.
If burnt then follow the instructions above for scale rot, detailed above.
Respiratory infection, or RI, is basically snake flu, but much more serious than what humans get. If your ball appears to have foamy saliva, bubbles being blown, is making gargling or popping sounds it may have RI. Signs to look for are also the snake tilting its head back, yawning excessively, or has a swollen chin. RI is very serious and immediate action must be taken.
If your ball has signs of RI then you must seek out a qualified vet for assistance as a course of antibiotics may be required. Your infected ball should also be placed in quarantine away from any other reptiles as the condition can spread.