Signs of Illness in Snakes

Snakes are fascinating and beautiful animals, and they can make wonderful pets. Although snakes don’t need as much day-to-day care as dogs and cats, they do need proper care and attention in order to stay healthy. One thing that is very important with snakes—and with any pet—is to watch for potential signs of illness, and contacting your vet immediately if you notice anything amiss. Here, a Moorpark, CA vet lists some common signs of illness in snakes.

Change In Behavior

Behavioral changes are often a red flag in our animal companions. If you pay close attention to your snake, and get to know your scaled pal, it will be much easier for you to spot unusual behavior. For instance, if your pet is usually friendly and docile, but suddenly starts acting agitated or aggressive, you may have a sick snake on your hands. (Note: grumpiness is not uncommon before shedding. Do plenty of research, and ask your vet for more information.)

Shedding Problems

Snakes should shed their entire skins at once. If your pet’s old skin is in several pieces, or has holes in it, contact your vet. Slower and/or irregular shedding can also be red flags.


Your snake should feel robust and supple. If you feel bones when you pick up your pet, or if your scaled buddy just looks thin and bony, he could be sick. Stiffness, strange posture, or unnatural movements—often called stargazing in snakes—are more warning signs. You’ll also want to watch for tiny black or red specks, which could be indicative of mites.


Snakes should breathe quietly through their noses. Mouth breathing and/or wheezing are both signs of illness in snakes. Discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth is another warning sign.


Your pet’s scales should be smooth and shiny. Dark patches, dull skin, and or blisters or lesions can all be indicative of illness in snakes.


As you may know, snakes don’t typically eat every day. How often your snake feeds will depend on his age, size, and breed. That said, if your pet is due for a meal, and doesn’t have much of an appetite, he could be ill. Changes in waste can also be a sign of sickness.

Do you have questions about your snake’s health or care? We can help! Contact us, your Moorpark, CA animal clinic, today!

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