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While every snake is different, there are some problems commonly seen in ball pythons.
Mites and Ticks
Mites are very tiny creatures that are usually found on and under a snake’s scales, on the rims of the eyes, or around the vent. They come out of their hiding places at night and suck the blood of their host, which can cause a snake to become anemic. Mites are also thought to be disease transmitters. They can be difficult to spot, but their silvery droppings give them away, normally appearing on the snake and in other places. Mites multiply very quickly and can do significant damage to your snake’s health if left untreated.
If your ball python has mites, place him in a covered container with shallow water for three or four hours. While he is soaking, thoroughly clean and disinfect his cage and everything in it. Remove the snake from the water and dry him before returning him to his cage.
Ticks are not as small as mites and can be found between a snake’s scales. They can be removed by swabbing them with a bit of rubbing alcohol and then grabbing them with a pair of tweezers.
By disinfecting branches, rocks, and other natural items before placing them in your snake’s cage, you will be able to avoid most mites and ticks. You should also isolate a new ball python before adding him to your collection. The easiest way to prevent a mite or tick infestation is to plan ahead and take precautions.
Dysecdysis is a word used to describe a variety of shedding difficulties. It occurs when a snake attempts to shed but some old skin is retained on some part of the body, quite often the eyes. This skin will harden and cause improper shedding cycles in the future. Eventually, multiple layers of leftover skin will develop and will cause the snake to be virtually blind.
Whenever your snake sheds, you should inspect him closely to make sure all old skin has come off, particularly in the eye area. If a piece has remained, remove it by carefully swabbing the eye with a cotton swab dipped in warm water. Then, use a pair of tweezers to pluck at the edge of the skin until it breaks free.
Unlike dogs or cats, snakes do not need regular check-ups. If you keep your snake healthy, you may never have to visit the veterinarian. However, if your snake is acting strangely or has the symptoms of any ailment, a trip to the veterinarian can be important and should not be delayed.
For more information on ball python health care, read Quick & Easy Ball Python Care (T.F.H. Publications, Inc.).