3 Common Ball Python Illnesses

One of the worst moments for pet owners is when their pet is sick, and snake owners are no exception. While many snakes tend to be rather hardy when it comes to medical issues, they aren’t immune, including ball pythons. This is especially true when you are faced with some of the most common pet snake illnesses.

Keep reading to learn how to identify the top three pet snake illnesses and what treatment may entail.

Top 3 Most Common Pet Snake Illnesses

While the ball python is a generally hardy species of snake, especially of those that are kept as pets, they are vulnerable to different illnesses and conditions, including these three most common pet snake illnesses. 

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections are one of the most common illnesses your pet snake will get. Snake’s commonly develop this if their environment isn’t ideal. 

It’s important to keep your snake at the proper temperature and humidity that mimics their natural environment.

Here are signs your snake may have a respiratory infection: 

  • Mucus around the nose and mouth
  • Labored breathing
  • Frequent “yawning” 

You have treat respiratory infections as soon as you see symptoms. The symptoms of respiratory infections in snakes is a late stage symptom so chances are that they’ve had it for more time than you know. 

Infectious Stomatitis

Infectious stomatitis is a bacterial infection that can be found in snakes as well as other reptiles like lizards. It can be the result of other illnesses, such as parasites, or may occur on its own. It is easily identified by the presence of petechiae (small, round bumps) in your snake’s mouth. While there are several treatments available, a severe infection may lead to surgery. 


Snakes can be vulnerable to both internal and external parasites. The symptoms and their severity depend on the exact species of parasites, such as mites resulting in anemia or infection while certain protozoan parasites can cause intestinal problems. 

Some of the most common snake parasites include:

  • Mites
  • Hookworms
  • Pinworms
  • Ascarids 
  • Trematodes.

External parasites can often be treated by cleaning your ball python and their enclosure, while internal parasites may require your vet’s intervention. 

Skin Infection

Skin infections are usually caused by a parasite, such as mites, by a wound, or by a dirty enclosure.

For most pet snakes, it’s important to avoid live feeding. Many snakes that are kept as pets can thrive on thawed frozen rodents. Live feeding can result in an injury to your ball python, which can cause an infection or even death. 

Promptly removing parasites and maintaining a clean enclosure for your ball python is also important when it comes to preventing and even treating some of the most common illnesses. If you notice a wound on your snake, treating it with snake-safe medicine can help prevent infection. 

How do I know if my ball python is sick?

One of the best ways to prevent some of the most common ball python diseases and illnesses is to learn to identify the early signs of sickness.

Compared to other pets, it can be difficult to tell whether or not a pet snake is sick. However, one of the best rules of thumbs is that abnormal isn’t normal. This means that any time you notice a major change in your snake, whether it’s loss of appetite or sudden lethargy, you should consider speaking to your veterinarian.

Some illnesses may have clear signs. Infectious stomatitis, for instance, usually causes discharge. Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of the most common pet snake illnesses and checking your ball python regularly can help prevent different illnesses and their negative effects.