Signs of Illness in Snakes

Do you have a pet snake? Snakes are known for being easy to care for: as long as they are well kept, will generally stay healthy. That said, like any animal, they are susceptible to certain illnesses and diseases. Parasites; skin problems; shedding issues, including eye cap retention; and respiratory issues are some common snake ailments. Stress and dehydration can also take a toll on your snake’s health. Snakes aren’t known for being particularly expressive, so you’ll need to watch your reptilian pet closely in order to ensure that you notice any issues. In this article, your NW Las Vegas vet lists some common signs of sickness in snakes.

Refusal to Eat

Healthy animals have healthy appetites. Any animal that doesn’t seem interested in dinner should be examined, as a loss of appetite, or outright refusal to eat, can be a red flag indicating a serious illness.

Weight Loss

Snakes should look and feel robust and well-fleshed. You should not be able to see your snake’s skeleton. If your snake looks bony, he could be ill.


Listlessness or lethargic behavior is often a common indication that something is wrong with an animal. Snakes are no exception. Your scaled pal should be alert and aware of his surroundings. He should respond to stimuli, and you should see that forked tongue flicking frequently.

Open-Mouthed Breathing

Your snake should breathe quietly and easily through his nose. If your pet is breathing through his mouth, he may have a respiratory issue. Sneezing, wheezing, and rasping can also indicate illness in snakes.

Shedding Problems

Your scaled pal should shed his entire skin in one piece. If you see only segments of old skin, this is an indication of a partial shed. You may need to assist your pet in getting rid of the rest of his skin, as incomplete shedding can cause medical issues. Remember to check for retained eye caps, as these can be problematic.

Skin Trouble

Blisters, rashes, welts, and abrasions can all be indications of problems with snakes. Your pet’s skin should be smooth and dry, with a healthy sheen to it.

Do you have any questions about caring for your snake? Do you know or suspect that your pet may be ill? Contact us any time! As your NW Las Vegas vet clinic, we are happy to serve all of your veterinary care needs.

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