Signs of Illness in Snakes

Have you recently adopted a snake? If so, you’ve chosen a fascinating pet. Snakes are very different from other pets. While some are friendlier than others, in general they aren’t as charismatic as dogs, cats, or other pets. This isn’t entirely a bad thing: it can be fascinating to watch a snake just doing his thing. However, it can make it hard to tell if your scaled buddy is sick or injured. A local London, ON vet lists a few things to look for in this article. 


Stargazing may sound whimsical, but it actually isn’t a good thing at all. Snakes sometimes sit in unnatural, stiff, positions, sometimes positioning themselves so that they appear to be watching the sky. This is called stargazing, and it can be a sign of major medical issues. 

Mouth Breathing 

Your serpentine friend should breathe quietly through his nostrils. A snake that is breathing through his mouth may have respiratory problems. 


Discharge from the eyes, nostrils, or mouth is another red flag. Sometimes snakes get mouth infections, which can result in them secreting a substance that looks like cottage cheese. 


Snake’s scales should be smooth and shiny. Dullness, redness, lesions, or discoloration are all signs that something isn’t right. 

Shedding Trouble 

Healthy snakes shed their skins in one long piece. If you see bits of your pet’s old skin stuck to him, he may need medical attention. 

Weight Loss

Pay attention to your pet’s body composition. He should feel strong and supple. If his bones are sticking out, he’s underweight. Poor nutrition is the most common cause of weight loss, but it can be caused by many different things. 


Snakes aren’t always the most active pets, but they should be aware and alert. Even if your scaled buddy is just resting, he should respond to sounds, lights, and other stimuli. Snakes also often test their surroundings by sticking out their tongues. 

Lack of Appetite

This one can be a bit tricky: snakes don’t get excited about treats the way other pets do. However, if your pet is due for a meal, but isn’t interested, he could be ill. (Note: there is an exception here, in that snakes sometimes do go off their food before shedding.) 

Do you see any of these warning signs in your scaled buddy? Contact us, your local London, ON vet clinic, today! 

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