URGENT: Ball Python has a lump in her throat

Hi all

I today found to my great dismay that my eldest Ball Python “Lilly” who is 11 years old, had a lump in her throat.

She ate very well last week and I check on all my Ball Pythons daily, yesterday she was fine.

I checked her mouth and besides it being swollen, couldn’t see anything.

When I grabbed her behind the neck, sorry for this being a bit gross, a little whole opened up and some brown stuff started coming out.

I know everyone is gonna say, take her to a vet, and I have contacted the only vet that deals with snakes in my area and he said he can only see her on Monday.

For me that is way too long to wait for Lilly, she is part of my family. To add, she did lay a 7 slug clutch in October, but there were no ill effects afterward.

So my questions are as follows:

  1. What is this?
  2. What caused it?
  3. What can I do to save my Ball Python?

The pictures attached are not great, as you can imagine she is very aggresive at the moment and gasping for air, so I am trying to keep her as calm as possible.

I placed her in a lukewarm bath tub, with some disinfectant for the little whole to get cleaned out.

I have never had any health issues with my Ball Pythons before, so I have to admit that I am at a loss.

Please assist me Morph Market community.

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That is a awful big swelling to appear in such a short amount of time.

  1. My guess is a impact wound that has got infected. Likely swelling slow enough for it to go unnoticed for at least a few days. Though without tests done it will be hard to confirm.

  2. Scratch from mouse, substrate puncture, something sharp along these lines.

  3. My only bit of advice is to find another vet that will see them today, but how doable that is depends on a lot of personal factors. I will tag @stewart_reptiles @wreckroomsnakes @t_h_wyman and @mblaney in hopes of some tips to do what you can do until then.


Looks/sounds to be some type of cyst and based on the discharge being present I would guess it is the result of an infection. Getting to a vet is important, even if it is just a vet that is willing to see a reptile and not one that specializes in them. Here is the link to ARAV, it has a state-by-state directory

You will want them to drain the cyst and maybe use a local antibiotic injection (NOT Baytril). You will likely have to apply a topical to it as well, to allow for healing.


Thanks so much, I’m from South Africa, so unfortunately we don’t have as many options as you guys in the States have.

I will check out ARAV, thanks so much.

Really appreciate the help.


Yeah, I was shocked as well. She is moving around a lot, the swelling has subsided a little bit and her breathing is a bit better, but I’m still worried.

I use newspaper as substrate and it is a shelf with a tub that she is housed, so I am guessing that it is a scratch from a mouse, as she only eats live, I have tried f/t, but she won’t take it.
Thank you so much for the tags, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Really appreciate the help, and I will keep everyone updated.


That could make it more difficult, I am not sure if ARAV has listings outside of the US.

An alternative, if you cannot find any vet willing to work with your animal, is to reach out to VetMed schools. They are sometimes more willing to take on “interesting” cases as a teaching tool. The thing there is that you are working with people that are still learning so their knowledge base is more limited. Not necessarily a huge issue for something like this (unless it turns out to be something different than the obvious) but still something to consider


Thanks so much, I will contact Onderstepoort, which is the largest Vetinary school in South Africa, maybe somebody is willing to help me.

I really appreciate all the help and advice.

So proud to be part of this community!!!


I can’t offer much advice outside of what has already been shared, but I hope the best for your girl and that she can get the care she needs. I hope she feels better soon!


Thanks so much, it is really appreciated. Unfortunately no vet is willing to see her until Monday, I am using everything I have learnt over the years.
She is in quarantine now, and keeping an eye on her.

All I can hope for is a miracle and that time goes by quickly.


Though that sounds like an abscess in terms of mammal health (discharge, fast growth), reptiles generally have ‘caseous’ (cheesy) discharge, and are hard and well-defined. But perhaps this one has yet to undergo those changes? Take precautions, as some common sources of reptile abscesses are zoonotic (can infect humans). I had to look it up- cysts are possible, but are generally caseous as well.

What strikes me as most (though I am not a qualified herp vet) likely is cellulitis, which will need antibiotics. Cellulitis in reptiles can come from skin infections as well as more serious internal issues. I think organ failure can also cause edema (swelling), but I know a lot more about mammals.

Until Monday, make sure she has a clean cage/tub (so there’s no ammonia reducing the quality of her air). In a mammal, a (very mildly- not hot) warm, wet compress can help abscesses empty until an animal can be seen, but I have no idea if this would be a good idea for your little one, and will have to defer to others with more experience. I’ve also heard that raising temps a very small amount (too hot & it will get harder to breathe) can help reptiles battle infection, but again I suggest asking others about that. Also, if you are a smoker, do not smoke (or vape) anything near her. Her air needs to stay as clean as possible for now.


Thank you so much for the advice, I really appreciate it.

As an update, the swelling has subsided a bit, she is breathing fine and isn’t behaving distressed or have any other symptoms.

Hopefully she pulls through.


Just an update for everybody.
“Lilly” is doing much better. Her breathing is normal, she is moving around and seems to be okay.
I will still take her to the vet early Monday morning.
From my side, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who assisted me.
Attached is a pic of “Lilly”, not the greatest pic, but I don’t want to disturb her too much. As you can see, there is no visible lump.


I’m so glad that she’s doing better! I used to live in the RSA 20 years ago. I’ve heard very good things about the veterinary school in Pretoria (the one you mentioned), so hopefully they can be a good resource if needed.

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Yeah, I actually managed to get hold of one of the vets (in training) and she said that if the reptile vet can’t help me Monday morning, I should bring her there and they will assist.

Checked on Lilly this morning again and to me she seems absolutely fine, of course I’m gonna take here to the vet, but I’m stumped as to what happened.
My biggest fear is infection.

Once again for all the advice and help, Morph Market rocks!!!


Glad she is doing better! Hopefully the vets can provide some insight so you can prevent this from happening again :slight_smile:

Thank you.
Yeah my main concern is just getting her to survive this ordeal and then secondary to find out the cause.

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Hi everybody

So the news is in…

“Lilly” is gonna be fine!!!:partying_face::partying_face::partying_face:

Took her to the vet today and she says after doing a full checkup just about as much as a human full checkup, including x-rays, she found a scratch in “Lilly’s” throat.

This caused an infection which resulted in an abscess. She said that she would have been fine, because the abscess was busy draining and that her body was fighting the infection. Apparently it’s because of her good health that she did so well, so I am super happy that I am doing things right.

She is currently on some antibiotics, just to kick the infection and the abscess is completely gone.

I want to thank each and everybody for all of their help, with a special shout out to Eagle Reptiles and t_h_wyman, but really to everyone that helped and encouraged and hoped, it really means so so much!!!

As a keepet of snakes for years, but a brand new breeder of Ball Pythons, it is wonderful to have a community that is always there!!!

Thank you Morph Market community!!!


This is amazing to hear :tada:

You are more than welcome, it’s what we are all here for :blush::+1:


Oh, I’m really glad she’s gonna be okay! Hoping for a speedy recovery, nonetheless! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


What fantastic news / Izindaba ezimnandi lezo / dit is wonderlike nuus / Ziindaba ezimnandi ezo! :wink: . I’m so glad!