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Signs of Sickness In Snakes

August 01, 2019

Snakes may not be as popular as dogs and cats, but they can make great pets for the right person. They aren’t as charismatic as other animals, however, so it’s important for first-time snake owners to do some research. One thing that is crucial is being able to spot signs of sickness. A Covington, GA vet lists some common ones below.

Trouble Shedding

When your snake sheds, he should lose his old skin in one piece. If you find pieces of snakeskin in the cage, or see old skin sticking to your reptilian friend, he may be ill.


Healthy snakes should have clear eyes and dry noses. If you see discharge from your pet’s eyes, nose, or mouth, you may have a sick snake. Discharge that looks like cottage cheese is a definite red flag.


Another thing to look for is discoloration or inflammation. This is often seen around the gums and mouth. However, discoloration or swelling of any part of the body can be a warning sign.

Scale Condition

Your snake’s scales should be smooth and shiny. Scabs, sores, lesions, swelling, and bumps are all signs of trouble.

Mouth Breathing

Your reptilian pal should breathe quietly through his nostrils. Wheezing, gasping, and/or mouth breathing are also indicative of illness in snakes.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a warning sign with many animals, and snakes are no exception. If you can easily feel your pet’s bones, you may have a sick serpent.


Healthy snakes are active and alert. Your scaled friend should respond to sounds and smells, and may put his tongue out frequently. (This is how snakes collect information about their surroundings.) If he’s just hanging out listlessly and not moving much, he could be sick.


Stargazing in snakes is not as whimsical as it sounds. This term is used to describe strange postures snakes sometimes adopt when they are ill. A sick snake may sit with his neck or head in a stiff position, as though he is looking up.

Reduced Appetite

If your scaled buddy is due for a meal, but ignores the food you put in his cage, he could be ill. (Note: there is an exception to this. Snakes sometimes go off their food before shedding.)

Please contact us, your Covington, GA vet clinic, with any questions or concerns about snake care. We’re here to help!

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