Friend's ball python not eating after laying

I have a friend who’s been breeding balls for a little while but he’s worried about one. He’s an anxious person and just wants to make sure he isn’t overreacting before taking her to the vet.

It’s a female and she laid a clutch about two months ago. She hasn’t eaten since before she laid. Her clutch recently hatched and she’s still not eating.

He’s offered her smaller meals, and has ran his finger down her belly and she doesn’t appear eggbound. He washed her after laying, cleaned out her tub and changed the substrate

She’s still fairly active but not quite like before. He’s soaked her once tonight and she plumped up a bit as he figured out that she was a little dehydrated.

These are the pics he sent prior to soaking her and just wants to know if it’s normal.

Thanks in advance!


First welcome to the family! Next, I am not understanding what I am seeing. Is that loose skin on her that I see? And she appears to have a large indentation toward the end of her tail. Plus it looks like she might have mites. I can’t tell if there are any mites around her eyes without seeing a close up. To me, and this is just my opinion, it looks like this snake is in very poor health and needs medical attention administered by a qualified reptile vet asap.

Others may disagree so we will see.


From what I gather, yeah, it appears that it’s loose skin and an indentation. The rest of his breeder females didn’t have any issues after laying which is why he was weirded out by this one’s appearance.

She’s a super pastel cinnamon enchi if that helps? He obsesses over mites after meeting a breeder who’s snakes had a ton of them so he keeps an eye out for any potential mites and doesn’t report having any.

If there are better angles that could help assess the situation I can request them.

And to be clear: he’s definitely taking her to the vet either way! He just didn’t know if this was normal.

Thanks for your input!


You are very welcome! As long as she is definitely going to see a vet, you really shouldn’t need anything else from me other than something is seriously wrong with her, imho. There are suspicions looking patches on her scales as well as dark specks I can see in the first picture too. The skin folds are alarming too………

Please keep us updated on what the vet says because I for one would like to know…….


Thank you for your insight!

I’ll definitely do a follow up to this post for you and anyone else curious. I’m a ferocious Googler and I couldn’t find a situation quite close enough to this, so hopefully it can help someone else, regardless of the outcome.

He talks about his snakes like they’re his children so I know he’s devastated by the whole thing. I know nothing about ball pythons as I’m more of a gecko person so I’m learning about their care basically through him.

Just so I know, what suspicious patches are you referring to? I can pass that along to him so he can keep an eye out for his other snakes, if it’s a warning sign or something to that effect.


Her stomach scales definitely look like they need looked at, ball pythons can get discoloration on their stomachs for a variety of reasons but the brownish-pink hue looks irritated and infected (to a degree) I’ve always been somebody who panics about everything with their snakes but you never know from my personal experience (probably why I worry so much) it looks like discoloration before scale rot or minor burning, or just a general bacterial infection, her cloaca also looks rather unhealthy and needs checked out by a vet in my opinion, that loose baggage of the skin also could indicate burning and dehydration, along with a lack of food. Overall I’d get a vet on the line ASAP because although I’ve had worse looking situations on my hands, since she had eggs and is struggling to recover she’s in a dangerous position when it comes to getting sick in any way shape or form.

I am in no way a vet and in no way a professional at IDing health issues in snakes but she does look a bit roughed up if I’m being quite honest and I would say vet, but that’s just my advice, wishing you and your friend good luck with dealing with this lovely looking lady!


I see some greenish spots in the top upper right of the top picture that looks weird to me.

There is someone else replying so I could stand corrected on everything I said. I have 5 bps but I am not a breeder though……

That’s the beauty of this forum family. There are so many people with so much experience and compassion!


@lily_jacobsen Do you see any evidence of mites by chance?


I don’t deal with BPs, but I’ll weigh in. First off, I don’t see any mites, scale rot, or burns. Not sure where anyone else is seeing them, but that’s not the main problem either way. I’m far more concerned about the cloaca and just above it. I’ve heard of tail suck while ovulating, but this looks like she’s got something going on internally. The folds should not stay bunched like that, she needs a vet asap imo.

Edited to add: Does he use cypress, coconut husk, or soil? All would account for the “mites” and any belly discoloration.


I was thinking about the substrate causing the specks as well kinda after the fact. So glad people are jumping in here because I was flying by the seat of my pants! Lol! :upside_down_face::pray::thinking::snake:


I don’t think there’s a mite problem going on here really, seconding @noodlehaus on substrate causing it most likely, most all my snakes I own do get some bits of substrate stuck underneath their scales, and I agree the biggest problem is the cloaca, it’s highly concerning in my book.

Also just a quick explanation as to why I’m suspecting minor burns or scale rot:

I’ll attach some pics just a reference since it’d be super bummer of me to not explain why I might be seeing a certain affliction in this snake (or any animal for that matter) i also won’t add any images that would be upsetting to view just because I feel that won’t be needed in this situation as a heads up :+1:

Here’s just three images along with the links, I’ll be honest not the best of sources but generally it’s a bit harder to find minor examples of things like burns and scale rot unless they’re from chat boards or Reddit


I have also faced many many snakes with scale rot and burns, this is primarily because a large amount of my animals are rescues meaning I sometimes cannot pinpoint what the issue is before it gets more serious meaning sometimes my IDs on issues with my own snakes can be inaccurate but I’ll only use the ones I’ve gotten positive IDs on as examples. Main three are my first ball python ever I picked up with scale rot that killed him (along with an upper RI) I won’t be sharing pics of any of my snakes since they’re pretty old, I don’t have any, or they are simply rather graphic, but he came in with a slightly discolored scales until over the course of about 2 1/2 months it’s suddenly got much redder and browner tinted (about same color as OPs pics) and he ended up passing while I was away, second situation was my disabled BP who also had scale rot when I got her, similar to reference pics, I managed to get her treatment ASAP thankfully. Final example is my boy Tony who I love to share pics of, when I first got him he soon after contracted scale rot (due to my failures and honestly negligence) he was fighting it for months even with constant treatment. I don’t have pics of Tony’s little situation anymore due to getting a new phone but I’ll do my best to now provide pics of my clear-patterned snake’s bellies (amongst the ones that are willing)

Somehow I had completely forgotten I was not at the house with clear bellied snakes but I tried my best :+1:

Hope this mini guide helps explain myself! Sorry for not providing an explanation and thank you noodlehaus for pointing out where I was lacking lol I also apologize for terrible lighting but it’s midnight so I can’t really go outside for better lighting


The reason I brought up the substrate and don’t think it’s a burn or scale rot is if you look at the belly scales further up, you can see a clear delineation between the discoloration at the front of the scale and the normal color of the scale after. If there was an inflammatory or infectious cause, there wouldn’t be a straight line between the two:

This, along with the OP saying that the owner recently changed the substrate, suggests that the cause of the discoloration is from substrate staining. That’s why I asked if she’s on something like Cypress, coco husk, or dirt.


She definitely needs to see a vet, so I’m glad she’s got a visit lined up.

I have the feeling she’s dealing with a case of septicemia. The color and indentation around the cloaca is not normal. And the overall color of her belly just does not look right. That morph should have a bright white belly. Unless she’s been sitting in mulch that is WAY too damp, it should not have that color. Did she have blood in the tub or anything that possibly looked like a ruptured egg goo when they pulled the eggs? Or a nasty and weird looking stool after?
I would definitely recommend asking the vet for a cloacal swab at the very least for any bacteria there but if they can run a blood panel that may also be a big help. You may be looking at needing to tube feed her for a couple weeks while she’s on the medications as most snakes won’t eat while on them either and she needs that nutrition badly. An infection on top of egg laying will just keep her wasting away.

I would definitely keep her hydrated and offer her another soak daily until she sees the vet if she was mine.


So I am taking all of this in and trying to learn. Will the loose skin eventually correct itself when she gets meds, food and fluids? It just looks like she is extremely dehydrated…….


Typically females are “hollow” and will appear to have some loose skin after laying. That’s very normal, but it isn’t normal for it to stay that way. They’ll look/feel a little hollow until they start to gain the weight back after they’re on food. My best guess is that the lack of nutrients due to not eating, and also being dehydrated on top of dealing with whatever issue she’s having are all compounding together causing her to look like this. Hope that helps.


Yes thank you. What you say makes a lot of sense. In other words she has not bounced back from giving birth as quickly as she should have due to extenuating circumstances.

With the 1 accidental “live” delivery that my Kaluha (boa) had, I didn’t see any “loose” skin/scales so that’s why I was so shocked when I saw the BP in this post……

Thank you again @nswilkerson1 !


Typically it isn’t that loose, I’m assuming it’s the other issues making it worse. Here’s one of my girls that was “empty” after laying…. Definitely not a full belly but not loose either.


It’s also partially because of the way they reproduce as well
Boas don’t need to incubate a clutch of eggs so they bounce back a bit quicker and don’t have that hollow look.
The hollow belly helps momma wrap around her eggs and hold them in the correct shape a bit easier. That way she can maintain the temps and humidity better than if she was rounder.


Yes thank you Nathan! The BP in your picture looks waaaaaaay more like a healthy snake should look! I totally understand the concept here! Sometimes I need the visual! Lol! :+1::blush:


So does that have anything to do with the term “bowl wrapping”?