Health issues found in Royal Pythons

 

What should you check on your royal and what should you be looking out for, the things below are what I check my royals to identify health issues:

 

 

 

Check for changes in feeding habits

Has your royal stopped eating?

Has it regurgitated its meal?

Eating more than normal?

 

Look for changes in the appearance, consistency of feces and urates:

 

Are there less urates?

Has it changes in appearance?

Are poos smaller, harder, drier?

Pooing less often?

 

Check for any changes in their normal behaviour

 

Is the Snake slower than normal not moving as normal

Spending more time in hiding or in the cooler end of the thermal gradient

Spends more time in basking area

Prolonged soaking in water bowl

More active, they would not usually

Increased or decreased tongue-flicking

Tongue, is the fork stuck together

Has the usually tame Snake become aggressive or vice versa.

 

Check for changes in shedding 

 

Has the shed schedule become erratic

If the Snake should be shedding in one peice

Are sheds taking much longer than usual to complete

Check for physical signs of illness an injury:

Gaping (sitting with open mouth) for long periods of time

Increased or thickened saliva                                  

Paling of the tissues inside the mouth

 

 

 

What to do if these signs occur

 

If any of these signs occur, the environmental requirements of the species must be checked against the conditions actually occurring in the enclosure and aif there are any issues that they are corrected ASAP.

 

If the proper physical environment is well established, the social environment needs to be looked at in enclosures where more than one animal is housed together. It should be noted that aggression and dominance behavior is not always overtly physical - there need not be any actual fighting. Subtle behaviors on the part of the dominant animal may result in a subordinate animal staying away from basking areas and food, slowly dying of stress-enhanced hypothermia and starvation. That is why it is not recomended to have tooyals housed together. You will hear storys of people who do it successfully but in my opinion its not worth the risk.

 

If the physical and social environments inside the enclosure are not a problem, then the room the snakes are kept in must be evaluated.

1) Has the placement of the enclosure been changed (to a different room or different part of the original room)?

2) Are children or pets annoying or scaring the reptile (think food chain/predator-prey relationships here as well as the annoyance factor of children)?

3) Have you moved your house? Had the family over for a while disrupting your usual animal maintenance (and playtime) schedule?

4) Have you been away on Holiday?

 

These are all things that may seem like they wouldn't intrude on the life of our captive reptiles but, for many of them (even royals), it most definitely can do.

 

There are also the things that go on behind your back...

Is there anything happening when your not home, is tiddles batting the enclosure for example?

even if you are not directly seeing anything going on doesn't mean that something isn't happening to result in fear and stress in your snake.

 

Please note**********

If your conditions have not been set up appropriately before reading this material, the shedding, defecation, and growth patterns you have come to expect from your reptile may in fact be abnormal.

Reptile owners who have no previous experience with healthy reptiles believe that since their reptile is alive, eating, and defecating, that they are healthy, the environmental requirements of the species must be checked against the conditions actually occurring in the enclosure and any inadequacies or failures corrected.

 

If the proper physical environment is well established, the social environment needs to be looked at in enclosures where more than one animal is housed together. It should be noted that aggression and dominance behavior is not always overtly physical - there need not be any actual fighting. Subtle behaviors on the part of the dominant animal may result in a subordinate animal staying away from basking areas and food, slowly dying of stress-enhanced hypothermia and starvation.

If the physical and social environments inside the enclosure are not a problem, then the room the snake is housed in must be evaluated.

1)H as the placement of the enclosure been changed

2) Are children or pets annoying or scaring the snake (think food chain/predator-prey relationships here as well as the annoyance factor of children)?

3) Have you moved your household?

4) Any disruption your usual animal schedule?

5) Been gone on Holiday?

 

These are all things that may seem like they wouldn't intrude on the life of our captive snakes but, for many of them it can most definitely do.

 

 

Common Feeding Problems in Royal Pythons (And fasts are not a case of If more a case of when


Failure of a royal to feed may be due to one or more of several possible reasons.

To get the snake to start eating, the underlying cause for the failure to feed must be identified and corrected: failure to feed can be a symptom of an issue but remember in the UK round about October November is the start of breeding season and these animals come from a location where feast and famin is what they have evolved to cope with

Simply assisting or forcing feeding an animal may not correct the perceived problem and if done wrong may compound the issues experienced. Reasons for not eating include:

 

Environment:

  • Still acclimating to captivity/new surroundings.
  • Water or air temperatures too hot or too cold.
  • Inappropriately sized or outfitted environment.
  • Improper lighting/photoperiods.
  • Enclosure too small for successful "hunting."
  • Water too shallow for aquatic snakes.
  • Inadequate access to proper basking temperatures.
  • Inadequate or missing hiding places.
  • Dehydration (Dented eye caps can be a symptom of this)

Feeding Practices:

  • Fed at wrong time (They prefer after dark).
  • Not hungry due to being fed too often or too much at one meal.
  • Prey not thoroughly defrosted and warmed.
  • Prey not recognized.

Health:

  • Dehydrated due to inadequate or inappropriately offered water source, illness, or extensive use of nephrotoxic antibiotics.
  • Emaciated from chronic starvation.
  • Sick or injured.
  • Constipation (due to dehydration or impaction).
  • Impaction of foreign object.
  • Heavily parasitized. (Mites for example)

Psychosocial:

  • Stressful surroundings for example loud noises (They cant hear as such but do feel the vibration of sound)
  • Over Handling
  •  

Other:

  • Neonate not yet ready to eat.
  • Getting ready to shed.
  • Gravid or getting ready to breed.

If possible, it is always best to get the snake to start self-feeding rather than resort to long-term forcing feeding or tube feeding. Once you have assured that the snake is healthy and in a properly established environment, certain tricks may be used.

  • Warm up prey (sealed in a plastic bag and submerged in hot water for 10 minutes, or heated under lamp or with a hair dryer as heat-sensing species need to target and helps increase the smell of the prey.
  • Take into account the natural hunting and feeding strategies
  • Scent rodent prey with appropriate mamma, so sent rat with mouse for example

 

Changes in Temperatures and Humidity
The humidity and temperatures in an enclosure will vary through the year as the ambient room air temperatures and humidity rise and fall. This is unless you use a specially heated snake room.

 

You may need to boost the humidity artificiall, for example. Hygrometers can be used to measure humidity and may be used as a guide to alert you when you need to boost the humidity or not. Royals are most comfy around 55% during shed they require 65 – 75% to shed successfully

 

During the the winter, the autum in outside temperatures results in a lowering of the temperatures inside our homes. This drop in ambient room air temperature often results in a lowering of the temperatures inside the snake enclosures.

 

Always monitor the temperatures.. You may find that during the colder months you many not only have to boost humidity inside the room or enclosure, but you may have to add stronger or additional heating equipment just to be able to maintain the proper temperatures.

 

One final factor that must be mentioned is the human tendency to demand that animals share the human's time schedule. Royals are most active between dusk and dawn i find evenings are the best time to feed.

 

Constant disruption of the sleep cycle, as well as being forced to eat in daytime rather than in the evening can results in long term low levels of stress.

 

So, what does all of this have to do with my snake's health?


Stresses, little and big, as well as the direct effects of environmental can and in royal pythons lead to illness.

Thermal burns, dysregulated endocrine system, sleep deprivation, constant fear and/or insecurity, etc., lead to numerous illnesses and disorders.

Stress itself can suppress immune function, making the body unable to naturally fight off infection or keep internal parasites under control. The more stress, or the longer that it is allowed to continue, the weaker the animal becomes and the less tolerant it is to continued stresses and other problems in its environment.

 

Snakes take a long time to show any illness or die. Because of their ectothermy, their cold-bloodedness, they are able to conserve energy to maintain basic body functions for a long time, long after a mammal or bird would have succumbed or have deteriorated to the point where the owner would notice.

In general Snakes do not die "suddenly."

When someone says that, what has happened is that their snake was sick for a long period of time but, according to the nature of wild animals (which, after all, most snakes still are, even if they were captive bred), they hid their distress as in the wild, it is the sick and the weak who are preyed upon. Those animals most adept at suppressing signs of ill-health or injury are those that will have a chance to recover before being eaten.

 

In the wild as in captivity, reduced activity and increased hiding are behaviors associated with attempts at conserving energy (the less one moves, the fewer calories burned, a common reaction to slow starvation and to giving the body more calories to put into healing, for example) and trying to hide to avoid predation when the animal is too weak (or too cold) to effectively defend itself.

 

Behavioral Changes
Changes in behavior can be a sign of an underlying physical problem. We tend to think of health problems as causing lethargy and loss of appetite, but animals may also become snappy, cranky, and may react abnormally to accustomed interaction.Check the time of year breeding season is known to change some royals from sweethearts to nightmares.

 

Mites and Parasites.

Motes are often found in the water bowl and this can be the first sign you see if them is the small black grain with a light dot at the bottom of the  waterbowl.

 

When you find this you can bath your snake in warm water with a little olive or veggetable oil added. This  makes the scales harder for mites to move over. 

Then strip all furnature and replace with paper and just hides until you can get callingtons to treat. I also cover the top of all rubs with banking paper dampened to stop mites migrating.

Once I have callingtons I treat as advised including the area around the affected housing. 

 

RI - Respitory Infections

 

If you suspect RI - Mouth gaping bubbles in throat swollen neck or wheezing noises unless the snake has just shed and has retained skin in the nostrals I would seek a vets advice. By the time the symptoms are visable the snake may be very ill. Always best to err on the side of caution

 

The Royal Fast

 

In the UK royals reaching sexual maturity can begin to fast, often this happens around october and the months after. This is normal royals live a feast and famine existance and can and will go off food. Not a matter of if but really when. 

During this period i offer smaller prey items as i find they sometimes eat smaller prey quicker than their regular size but again some will not eat at all over months during this period. Most important watch the weight and monitor health, Keep offering. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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