Sick Ball Python

Hey everyone, I’ve been dealing with an ill BP and wanted somewhere to voice my concerns to other people who might be able to offer some advice.

So in May I bought my first BP from a well liked seller on Morph Market and was looking forwards to receiving her as not too long before I had unfortunately lost my baby sand boa. Everything seemed fine with the seller, except his replies became increasingly slow. I just made the assumption that he was busy and didn’t question it.

She finally arrived and looked pretty healthy, so I put her in her enclosure and was about to leave her to settle when she did a huge yawn. I watched her from a distance as she sat with her head outside her hide, and she proceeded to yawn some more. I stupidly didn’t message the seller immediately, hoping that she was just stressed or had recently eaten, but she continued doing it up to 10 times a day for the next few days so I messaged him, but he left me on read and hasn’t contacted me since.

She wasn’t showing any other signs of an infection at the time, but I took her to the vets regardless just to be safe. A swab was sent off for testing and she had a course of injections. The results came back negative, so the vet told me to just keep an eye on her and come back if I began seeing mucous. Fast forward to a week ago, I began seeing bubbles pop in her mouth when she yawned, and upon opening her mouth there was a couple of thin strands, so we made another appointment and took her in. The vet reckons that because there was no mucous when he did the swab it missed whatever they were testing for, and he taught me how to inject her myself so I can treat her at home, although we still don’t know what type of infection it is. The medication is for bacterial infections, but I worry that if it is something else we could be wasting time.

She still has a great appetite thankfully, but watching her yawn and strain so often worries me sick. I admittedly have pretty severe anxiety so I could be overreacting, but the thought of losing her so soon after my boa breaks me. Does anyone have any advice for what I should do or have and similar experiences to this? I don’t know if I should try and talk to the seller again either because it’s been quite some time since she came into my care, and he didn’t seem like he wanted to know. Thanks in advance.

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Here is the main issue

A swab was sent off for testing and she had a course of injections. The results came back negative, so the vet told me to just keep an eye on her and come back if I began seeing mucous

Upon a NEGATIVE culture the vet decided to give a course of injection. The big question is why? You do not treat an animal just because, doing so you can actually cause more harm than good.

I will also tiuch that there is no need for mucus to be present either for a culture to comeback positive.

Mucous appear in an advance stage of RI, early signs do not always include mucous.

Now because unecessary injection were prescribed which are very stressfull (and we know RI are usually a combination of stress and other factors,) you will never really know where it originated.


I am just going to point out that a proper culture for an RI in a snake is done with an endotracheal wash. You can’t get a proper sample just from the mouth in most cases, and the fact that they prescribed a course of injections after a negative test tells me this vet isn’t the best or smartest in the world.

I have a whole post on my experience with my sick snake that was sent by a breeder. I will paste it here because typing all of that out again would be a huge pain.


I was unaware that it is dangerous to try and treat her like that otherwise I would have declined. I’m still very new to the hobby and I feel so lost. The mucous isn’t thick, nor does it seem to be constantly in her mouth, but I worry that it could already be too late with how much time has passed. Should I try and take her to a different vet or would I just make things worse that way?

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Animals are no different than human, they should not be treated just because especially with antibiotics , sadly it’s not unusual for a vet to go that route especially with reptiles :roll_eyes: route which is why it’s always important to question your vet and be in charge your animal’s health a lot of people don’t because they figure having a MD next to your name means they likely know more but unless they have specialize in exotics they do not and Dogs and Cats and Reptiles are very different.

Now regarding the current presence of mucous your choices are to take your snake back to the same vet, (I personally would not) or take her to another vet that is actually experienced with reptiles not one that will say “yes we see snakes”

The right vet will do a culture to determine which type of RI you are dealing with, different RI respond to different type of antibiotics.

The proper antibiotics will be injectable

Finally treatment should be no less than 30 days, treatment is often too short alleviating the symptom but not really eradicating the issue which can flare back up.

This gives you an idea of the right questions to ask and what to expect.

And here is how to find a Herp vet in your area


Thank you for the advice. It is frustrating because the veterinary practice supposedly specializes in exotics and has so many positive reviews, so I had hoped I could trust them, but I guess not. I believe there is another place a little further away that works with zoos and rescue centers so I will perhaps contact them.


To second the length of treatment, my girl is bad enough (open mouth breathing a lot, loud huffs of breath, and mucus in mouth) that she will need at least 2 months of treatment. She may even need more than that. The vet I go to said that reptiles (especially snakes) are slow to recover from illness due to them being cold blooded. The longer they have the illness, the longer they will take to recover.

So long as you are treating her with the correct antibiotics, she won’t get much worse. However, an endotracheal culture takes about 10 days to get back from the lab, and your snake needs to be off meds for 10 days before having it done. In other words, you will be hoping you are treating with the right one, and if you aren’t she won’t recover. And while you are waiting to be able to get a test done/for the test results she will get worse.