Advice needed on what this could be?

So I noticed last month what looked like odd lines on my pastel girls head. She’s a '22, so very young. It was more apparent after a meal when she gets more red coloration. It appeared to be some kind of injury to me but I never witnessed anything. I was leaning towards maybe something occuring when sliding out her tub; on top of hide or under hide and pulled back quickly. It looked like the scales were almost folded from just behind the head to the center of head.

I decided to wait and see what happened with her next shed. To be safe I pulled the coco chunk bedding, disinfected her tub and rack and got her back on paper towel for bedding. I moved her water to keep humidity a little lower. She shed last week and it was all intact from what I could see. She was in a light phase and it looked improved.

Well she ate a mouse 2 days ago (always F/T over here). She tends to get fired up for a few days after in regards to color and she did. This made it obvious there is little to no improvement from the shed.

I’m hoping someone can give me their opinion on what I could possibly be dealing with here? I’ve been searching her and all other boas for any signs of mites and have found none. I can feel it, almost scab like on the center of head. The rest of the scales just look folded or dry? I’m starting to suspect some type of bacterial infection. Maybe caused by going to coco chips? I had to dehydrate the brick and am starting to wonder if the humidity was held to high in the tub for too long of a duration. I’d define it as damp for the first 3-5 days.

I’m going to start looking into reptile specific vets in my area to book an appointment. I would still love to hear opinions on treatment options but also treatments to avoid or potential IDs to go into the appointment with as much info as possible.

I have older pictures from my phone I’ll update from last month. I need to compare how it’s progressed either way.
Behavior & Environment
Still eating every 2-3 weeks f/t mouse. Acting normal other than the markings. Showing no signs of pain when touching it, but snakes are pretty tough that way I know. Everything else about her seems normal in regards to bowel movements. No signs of mites in water or paper towel, in vent or eyes. 92-94F hot spot (belly heat) cool end is 73-75F. I looked inside the rack and there is no access to flexwatt above the tub(or any tape) due to how it’s routed/woven. I check my racks and cages at least once but usually morning and night for cleaning. Water is changed 2-3x a week.

I currently use 1:10 bleach to water for disinfecting tubs/enclosures after bowl movements. If there is something better, please clue me in. I remove animal to holding tub. Pull paper towel. Spray tub with bleach solution. wipe clean. Rinse with hose. Dry and replace bedding ect.

I hand sanitize between handling animals. Tubs and water bowls are dedicated. Hopefully if this is something bacterial I’ve kept it isolated to just her.

Thanks for any insight,



That is strange. Im wondering if its akin to us having lines on our face from falling asleep in a wrong position? It was a good idea to book an appointment though. Im willing to bet a humidity thing.


That’s what I thought at first. It almost looked like a wrinkled scale then strange lines which had me wonder if it was always there and just a color phase thing that made me notice? Now I feel like the center section almost looks raised, I can feel it, which has me a little more nervous.

I’m not sure if betadine or neosporin without the pain killer would be a good preventative until I get her in. I’ve read about people using it but never have myself.

1 Like

Last month. Different color phases show it more or less. Looking at this though, I almost feel it has gotten a bit worse and probably warrants a vet visit.


I would stop the bleach and use chlorhexidine instead. It looks like dry scales. Whats the humidity? Maybe have the hot end slightly cooler too. It doesn’t look pressing, but if it gets worse I’d bring her to a vet to be safe. She’s very pretty!


I’ll order some of that. I knew there was something better I could be using, thank you.

Ya know it’s hard for me to tell what the humidity is with her being in a rack. Normally I’ll manipulate the humidity with water bowl placement. Honestly I just move it slightly warmer/cooler every time I fill/change water and move it mid tub for a bump if I see them go blue.
I did move the bowl all the way to the cool end, so lower humidity than normal. You could be right, maybe I went too dry? I’ll go back to my usual routine and see if there is some improvement.
Thanks, she’s one of my nicer pastels so hopefully I can get this corrected here soon!


I use peroxide to spot clean my tanks, maybe that could work for you instead of bleach? This is what i love about forums, ideas coming together to help us all in the end


Hi smite

It doesn’t look too bad to me, but it wouldn’t hurt to put some
neosporin without the pain killer on it.

It could be an old wound that healed up before you got her. And now that she is growing, it shows up more. The scar tissue will make the sheds get stuck sometimes.


Is your rack system with tubs a Freedom Breeder? I have an old Freedom Breeder racks, and the metal grating between the tubs is like a cheese grater. I have had a few boas and retics really mess up their heads and lower jaws in the past on me. Now I have plastic sheets that I slide between the tub and grating.


I appreciate your insight Tom. I’ve been considering the neosporin and I will probably give that a try soon, just to see if it helps heal. I’ve gone back in my pictures and I can’t see any sign of a previous scar or markings on her. I believe whatever happened, happened in my care but I’m just not sure what exactly it was?

The rack she is in is a PVC type, I’m blanking the name Cserpents or something. I don’t see anything sharp in there and I added vent holes to the tub with a soldering iron to avoid any sharp edges. I’m leaning towards getting squished or pulling back quick from under her hide box. Maybe it could touch the top when the bedding was in the right spot and pinned her when I slid a tub out, not sure. That or something bacterial for the temporary high humidity, although the spot never appears wet or anything. I have no experience with scale rot but haven’t found a picture that lines up with this searching online yet.

You 3rded what 2 other breeders I also trust said, not too big of a deal in it’s current state. I’ll go forward with your advice.

Thanks Tom!

1 Like

It doesn’t look like scale rot to me at all.


If you zoom in on your good headshot pictures, her scales are not in a uniform pattern. They seem mixed in a mixed up pattern. So it may just be that she has a slight bad shed sometimes. Some scales will also seem bent, which is not a problem at all. All my boas have had this sometimes on their bodies. It all depends on how they are curled up. The bent scales will go away.

If you look at the center pattern on her head, she has a bigger scale shaped, kind of like an arrow pointing backward.
It’s looks about 1/4" behind her eyes. Then count 4 and 5 scales more going towards her tail they line up with the lines on her head. And it just looks like a stuck shed on the bent scales. I am using your 3 picture from your first set of pictures you posted.


Well I’m glad to hear it doesn’t look like scale rot at all. The scales definitely look a little flipped up or maybe stuck shed pieces, that’s what had me thinking injury. The one section does look rolled/pinched up like a scab kind of. That’s interesting the scales not being so uniform, I see several large ones right next to eachother near that problem area, maybe that is just making it hard to get a consistent shed. Or injury caused the section to struggle.

Either way it does seem dry, I’m thinking your suggestion of neosporin is a good call. Seems pretty safe to use from what I’ve been reading. I’ll just be sure to verify it’s the original type, not pain free.

Thanks agian Tom, I’ll update after her next shed.

1 Like

Thanks for the sound advice, Tom. First shed since applying a light coat of neosporin and it looks great. Now that it’s healed up a bit, you can easily see the scale section you were referring to clearly. I’ll be interested to see how the next shed goes. It almost looks like one is missing? I wonder if that was the root cause? It’s where the scab like section was before. That darker piece lifted off a few days after application.


Glad to see and hear she is doing better now.