Can snakes pass on diseases

Hi, I came across a Craigslist post of someone rehoming a ball python and Their reason was their son was immune compromised and the doctor said to rehome the snake. is this valid or just and excuse because they don’t want to say they got bored of it or something

1 Like

Off the top of my head the only thing I could think of is Salmonella, but I’ve not heard of it being an issue in recent years (the last 10 or so). I contracted Salmonella a few years ago and during the health department’s investigation, when I explained my large reptile collection and rodent colony, they were completely unconcerned about that being the source. It turned out to be from a sushi restaurant, which likely used a knife to cut my fish that had been in contact with raw chicken.


I am no Dr, but just a quick search I found this. And it does look like it could happen:
The following types of animals are considered high-risk for people with weakened immune systems:

  • [Reptiles] (lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs)
  • [Backyard poultry] (chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese)
  • [Rodents] (hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice, and other small rodents)
  • Exotic pets (monkeys and other wild animals)

Is it possible for a snake to pass on a disease to an immunocompromised person? Yes

That said, is it possible for a dog/cat/gerbil/etc. to pass on a disease to an immunocompromised person? Also, yes

Is the doctor parroting bovine excrement justification to the parents? Also also, yes.

Does the doctor realize that? Probably not…

If your dog had gone out and rolled in something foul, you would not pet it and then go make dinner without washing your hands, but for some reason people handle their snakes and then do not wash their hands afterward… :man_shrugging:t3:

At the end of the day, proper hygiene is all you really need to prevent most disease transmission, even if you are IC.


Agree with @t_h_wyman. It could be really hard to keep a small kids away for everything that could cause a big health issue. So best case scenario, remove as much as you can that could cause a problem. A safer, healthy live is better then just wanting a pet. This is unfortunate for the pets in most cases. Finding a good home is the best bet.

1 Like

Lol, isn’t this a common theme some of the time?


I guess I never thought that you wouldn’t wash your hand after because I know of Kai’s sensitivities, so I even wash before handling other snakes (Willow).


You don’t have to be immunocompromised to get an illness from any animal.
For one example salmonella can be contracted from reptiles. Good hygiene and hand washing should protect anyone.
But bare in mind, more diseases and parasites can be caught from non exotic pets too, for just one example cats:

  • Campylobacteriosis.
  • Cat scratch disease.
  • Cat tapeworm.
  • Cryptosporidiosis.
  • Giardiasis.
  • Hookworm.
  • Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA)
  • Rabies.

I would add Covid too although rare.

Wash your hands, worm your mammalian pets and don’t let your mammalian pets french kiss you :grimacing:.
I would never let my dog lick my mouth. No sharing of body fluids :face_with_monocle:

Edit: worry about mammal pets passing things on more than reptiles. I do.


As an immune compromised person, I can understand the parents being more careful than others think they ought to be.

Is there risk of salmonella? Technically… Though he’s more at risk from eating sunny side up eggs and maybe he doesn’t do THAT either.
Is that risk too high for them and their son to gamble? Only they can judge that. You’d be amazed what counts as high risk for me vs what doesn’t.

I, for example, am in considerable danger going out in public in an enclosed space, during Current Times. However, I do not consider my new snakeling to be a possible danger to my health. Not when the dog sleeps on my actual bed, and I as an adult know about how to disinfect things and wash my hands constantly.


Agreed, even eggs are more risk than a reptile, but in the UK we have eggs labelled when treated for salmonella.

again, Mammalians like furry pets and even Us humans are more of a risk than reptiles.

If your in the UK I think the current removal of all covid precautions and free testing is the biggest risk and error.
Take care and protect yourself and loved ones.


i would fully agree washing hands is a number one priority in most cases :laughing:


There are multiple diseases, bacteria, contagions in general that pets can pass on. The only thing in the pet trade that scares me more than that are craigslist rehomed pets. Ive only been in the hobby a few years but it seems that every horror story begans with “i got this snake off craigslist”. Im not talking your normal “this us what bps do but i had no idea stories”. Im talking disease, viruses, mites, respiratory infections, mouth rot, scale rot, severe burns. Its literally a dumping ground for every malnourished, mistreated, sick, diseased, behavioral issue from neglect, ball python out there. If you are looking for a dirt cheap snake to grow your collection or if you are out to save a lost animal with all the love in your heart, be prepared for the consequences. If you dont have the resources to treat all your pets to a vet visit be very, very, cautious about craigslist animals.


This was not what I was saying. I know countless IC people with cats and dogs and all kinds of other pets. The point I was making is that doctor is passing on bad information and that the proper "diagnosis from the doctor should have been to advocate higher levels of hygiene with the reptile and NOT ordering them to get rid of the animal

You probably do not want to ask me how many doctors/dentists/vets/etc I have bailed on after they have blatantly displayed their ignorance while talking down to me

I agree with this statement. Reiterating that the doctor making immediate dictation that the reptiles have to go is short-sighted and ignorant and superseding the parent’s right to make an informed decision


Trust me, having a rare hip issue called leg calf Perthes has definitely give me the experience.


Just to chime in briefly- it’s well known by veterinarians that are current re: their knowledge base that MDs and DOs are trained to grossly overestimate the hazards companion animals pose to human health, reptiles included.

A classic example are the morons that advise people to get rid of their cats during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis in humans is generally caused by eating undercooked pork, not by family cats. If a woman is immune-compromised and concerned, it’s generally more than sufficient to wear gloves while scooping the litter pan and washing hands afterwards, or (ideally) just have another family member scoop the pan. It’s even possible to test to see if a cat is Toxo-positive and currently shedding potentially infectious material, but MDs never think of that despite being super basic knowledge.

I am immune compromised and I’m not concerned at all about keeping my reptiles. I wash my hands and don’t play with reptile poop.

The only time I’d be concerned would be perhaps an extremely immune compromised child that can’t leave the house or have any pets because of their condition, but a family in that situation would already know any pet wouldn’t be safe. Children are not as good about washing their hands.

The whole Salmonella scare in the USA goes back to aquatic turtles being sold at extremely small sizes, I think in the 50s, and children then putting them in their mouths (yes, really) and getting Salmonella in that fashion. Aquatic turtles are generally the reptiles associated with the most Salmonella issues.


^All of that. I concur. It’s definitely no part of their job to know what is contagious zoonotically (Like from animals) unless they’re an epidemiologist, so they tend to err on the side of caution because in their job if you don’t, people can die.
I mean I don’t blame them but at the same time, becoming immune compromised does not necessarily mean NO PETS EVER. If that’s a comfort, since y’all Healthy People are one bad day away from being Compromised too. Each person or their parents will have to do research and assess the actual level of risk.

I am immune compromised and so is my mom, and neither of us are scared of me keeping reptiles and other pets. We have 3 dogs too.


More so for humans to humans. Directly or from poor practices.

@lumpy respect,
We cant live in a bubble, I believe we are most likely to contract something from another human than a pet.
Hand washing, and good hygiene regardless of human or animal contact.
I always use gloves cleaning my animal tanks and that’s without me being immune compromised, its just good sense.

Also there’s lots of nasties (even life threatening things) anyone can get from just food not prepared properly or not stored properly. That’s why there are so many food hygiene rules in the food industry.

I have seen people die from just from poor food preparation, poor hygiene in the process and/or poor storage in my health care regulator work.

Personally I am more scared of others poor food hygiene practices than my snakes and other pets which I can mange safely myself.

Reptiles and pets are not the biggest risk by far.

Ohh edit: I like that example below:-

Yes and just one other example, salmonella from poorly treated eggs, not reptiles.

Food Hygiene point again …

I agree. Having proper hygiene should be a thing that everyone practices, plain and simple, who wants to possibly spread small particles of snake poop or whatever around their house, so that you can touch the same surface and then eat?


I’ve never gotten salmonella from my snakes — but I did make myself sick stupidly eating raw cookie dough…. right after having taken an antibiotic treatment for an e.coli infection in my colon :joy:
Normally it doesn’t bother me, that time it gave me bad food poisoning!