As many of you know, I have an Arizona mountain kingsnake named Ammon. Just today I noticed he has what seem to be neurological problems (not being able to right himself well, along with struggling to get around as well). He also refused his first meal in his whole life. He hasn’t had exposure to extreme temps, or chemicals. I recently figured out that I have had him a bit longer than I remember (curse childhood memories fading), and that makes him around 13-14. Average lifespan for his species is 15-20 years, so I am wondering if he is nearing the end of his life. Are sudden onsets of neurological problems something that can happen in aging snakes?
Typically neurological issues due to age develop slowly over time, so if this is more of a sudden occurance, I’d consider taking him in to a vet for a fecal and possibly a blood panel. Though I do wonder if it is less neuro and possibly discomfort related from something like an arthritis or gout.
It is possible that I didn’t notice it right away. Given minor neurological issues are harder to spot, and I tend not to handle him very often. That said, he did eat the mouse after I left it in with him for a few hours. If he keeps it down that will make me feel a bit better. I don’t really trust the vets I have as options, given how they have handled Polaris and her illness. I am not sure I would trust them to get a blood sample from a relatively small snake, let alone figure out what is wrong.
I’ll share what I do know, senescence (ageing) happens in all organisms. This can be fast or slow. Reptiles are typically on the slower axis, but there are no set rules. It is entirely possible this is a precipitous decline more in line with your species schedule, that could include neurological symptoms. But I don’t know, the only article I could find on reptile gerontology has a paywall.
My personal suggestion is not to worry. If your baby is at the life’s end, then just know you gave them the best you could.
If he ate, then I doubt it’s anything too concerning. Older snakes slow down, they get aches and pains just like any other aging animal. He’s likely got a bit of arthritis and as they get older, they lose a lot of muscle conditioning. Like you said, the vet options you have aren’t the best, and in this case I doubt they’d even find anything other than an old noodle looking his age. Just keep an eye on him, maybe consider smaller feeders more often if he seems to have issues wanting to take larger prey items. Could rearrange his enclosure as well in a way that makes it easier for him to get to all the places he likes to go.
I would at least try and have a fecal run as @noodlehaus mentioned if the blood panel is a no go.
Parasites can sometimes give a snake neuro looking symptoms.
Sadly if still could be age related, but you could at least rule out an easy to fix reason if you just need a course of antiparasitics
I doubt it could be parasites, given he has been on frozen thawed his whole life. Parasites can’t survive being frozen if I am correct. I will see if the vet can do a fecal test without needing a check up beforehand. I will of course need to wait for a fresh poop.
Ah… yeah less likely then.
A fecal culture is also an option to rule out any bacterial infections which can still happen, but that will be more expensive than a general fecal.