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The Snake Cold - Sneezing Snakes

Upper Respiratory Infection Vs. Inhalant Irritant

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Ball Python

Ball Python

Photo © Lianne McLeod

Probably one of the most common phone calls I receive at the animal clinic from snake owners is about their sneezing snake. They ask, "Does my snake have the snake cold? Why is he sneezing? Do I need to bring it in to see the doctor?" There are a couple of reasons why a snake might be sneezing, and it isn't always the "snake cold."

Check the Bedding

If your snake is kept on dusty bedding such as wood shavings, or if you have just recently cleaned or put in a new bag of bedding, your snake may just be sneezing because of the dust. Try taking your snake out of the dusty tank, or put a less dusty bedding in instead of what is making your snake sneeze. Is he stuck in a dust cloud from a bedding change? Mist the tank with a spray bottle filled with warm water to put an end to the dust cloud.

Is He Eating?

If your snake has lost his appetite it could be from an upper respiratory disease. If he is sneezing, not eating, and lethargic, take him to the vet.

Check Your Cage Temperature

If your snake is sneezing and it isn't from the bedding make sure your enclosure is at the appropriate temperature. Different species of snakes require different temperatures. Check your snake's care sheet for the right temps. If your snake has been too cold he may have gotten an upper respiratory disease. This usually require antibiotics from your exotic pet vet.

Is There Blood?

Your snake is sneezing and you notice blood tinged sneeze spray on the tank walls. This is serious and you should see a vet as soon as possible. It may be a bad upper respiratory infection where inflammation has caused blood vessels to burst when your snake sneezes or it could be a bleeding tumor or even something more serious. Take him to the vet!

Important Check-Ups

Regardless of whether or not your snake is sneezing, remember to get your snake checked out yearly by an exotic pet veterinarian. Why see an exotic pet vet? They may be able to diagnose an oncoming illness before they are showing symptoms and save your pet's life by nipping the disease in the bud.

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