Unknown Ball Python Noise?

This has been driving me crazy for weeks.

I own a female ball python (generic, about 1 1/2 years old.) She has just recently been to the vet for an annual checkup, and received a clean bill of health. She resides in a 30 gallon tank, ecoearth + sphagnum moss mix substrate, normal ranges for humidity and temp. Behavior-wise she’s a super sweetheart.

My grandparents have been constructing a she’d on our property for a few weeks now. My grandma loves my snakes, and often handles them. However, almost every time she handles this Ball Python (Cheeseburger), the snake does something weird.

She makes a sort of purring noise. It’s quiet, but audible. I tried to get a recording of the sound, but it didn’t get captured. But we’ve verified its a real sound, because four people have heard it. The snake is very calm and seemingly content whenever my grandmother is handling her, I noticed no signs of stress or similar in the multiple times I’ve observed her doing it. Her sides do seem to be flexing more heavily as if she’s breathing more deeply or often than she usually does, but again she doesn’t seem distressed. She has the opportunity to move, leave, or stop, but she doesn’t. She just sits there, like a little scaley poop, and makes this noise. Her eyes shift sometimes, but her tongue doesn’t flick.

I’ve tried ever since I was informed of this to identify the cause. Respiratory issues have been ruled out, as I specifically asked her vet to check and double check for any kind of issue. She came up in good health - there’s nothing wrong with her. Searching on forums and the internet has gotten me nothing. The only sounds people have talked about for BPs are RI related ones, or due to stress. I’ve found nothing like what I’ve observed or heard.

The sound is quiet, like a little huff sound, or air moving. It happens once, then there’s a slight pause, and it repeats. Sometimes it’s short, sometimes it lasts a few seconds. It’s not a hiss, not a cough, not a fart, not a sneeze. This is a noise I’ve legit never heard from any other snake ever before.

I just want to know what it is and why she might be doing it (especially if its stress or health related), mostly because it’s the weirdest darn thing I’ve ever encountered with a snake.

How did they examine the snake?

Are your grandparents using any strange/heavily smelling substances while building.
I don’t know how likely it is but it may be enjoying/working out a scent.

I would remove the coco/sphagnum mix. To me it sounds like she either is getting substrate stuck in her nose, or she is developing an RI. The substrate mix you have is extremely dusty and is known to develop mold quite easily. I would switch to paper towels/newspaper for the time being to monitor her and make sure she isn’t inhaling dust at a constant rate. Also, snakes cannot cough or sneeze so it wouldn’t be either of those anyway. Only way to tell if it is the early stages of an RI is to get a culture done on her. It sounds to me like your snake is also scared when she is held. If she freezes, breathes heavily, and doesn’t even flick her tongue then she is probably afraid and hoping her camouflage saves her.

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Sounds like stress to me as well.

I would be more likely to question the vet further than just dismiss ri. “Double check for any issues.” I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if this vet knows their reptiles, etc etc. if you’re confident they’re an advanced reptile vet and trustworthy and you know for certain they checked her for a RI, I would go back to stress as by far the most likely reason for the noise.

If you start seeing any of the other signs of RI then you go back to square one and work under that assumption.