The winter season seems to be the time of year when some ball pythons develop respiratory infections. Respiratory infections or “RI” can develop if room temperatures in your home reach low levels or if the ball python tank is placed in an area that’s colder than normal (on the floor, near a window, etc). RI can also come about from stress, dirty or damp cage, pine or cedar substrate, etc. because these conditions can cause an infection of the respiratory system. Being diligent of good husbandry practices during the winter season and making sure the “hot spot” in your ball pythons’ tank is optimum will reduce the chance of your animal coming down with RI.
It’s good practice to pay closer attention to your ball python during the winter season and look out for any symptoms of RI, sooner rather than later. Symptoms of RI include a wheezing or clicking sound when your ball python is breathing, bubbles appearing from the nostrils on the top of its head or a gaping mouth with thick bubbly saliva. Some ball pythons may not exhibit these symptoms and still have RI. A practice that I employ is to remove the ball python from its’ cage and hold it upside down vertically with its head facing the floor. Gravity will pull thick stringy mucous out of the ball python’s mouth to the floor. I stumbled onto this strategy by chance when I was cleaning cages a few years back.
The very first thing you need to do if you notice any symptoms of RI is to contact your reptile veterinarian right away! You can find vets that are local to you based on your zip code at this link - Reptile & Herp Veterinarians. The next thing to do after you’ve contacted your vet and made an appointment is to check the hotspot and increase it to at least 95F and make sure the cage and water are both clean. The extra heat will help your ball python fight the infection.
Your vet will more than likely prescribe Baytril, Tylan (Tylosin) or Amakacin as the medication of choice to help clear up the infection. He or she will also show you how to administer the medicine since he or she will medicate it first and you’ll have to continue administering the meds for the duration of treatment. Oral or injections are the two common ways of administering meds to ball pythons so pay close attention and watch carefully since you’ll have to repeat the process on your own. Don’t be bashful or shy if you have a question or are unsure of something. Your vet will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
We have many snakes and a terrific long term relationship with our vets so instead of having to go to the vet for issues that aren’t life threatening, we pretty much have all the necessary meds in bulk that’s needed to treat ball pythons in-house. Before you ask, we cannot and will not provide any meds to people since we are not licensed vets and do not have the authorization to distribute meds. We’ve been granted a privilege from our vets that allow us to purchase meds in bulk for our own use. I pointed this out to you so you’d understand based on the photos that follow how and why we have meds that you’ll only see in a vet’s office.
Baytril is usually the first choice of medication prescribed by vets for RI in ball pythons so I wanted to discuss briefly the proper way to administer Baytril if you have to inject your ball python via a syringe. The renal vascular system of the ball python dictates that the injection site must be in the upper third portion of the body. The photo that follows gives you a good idea of the safe injection site.
Your vet will more than likely give you syringes pre-filled with the correct dosage based on the weight of your animal. The dosage of Baytril for ball pythons is usually 10/mg per kg (1,000 grams) of body weight. When you inject your ball python under a scale you need to guide the syringe alongside the body as depicted in this photo.
An inch or so below the spine into the muscle and alongside the body is the proper route of the syringe. A noticeable bulge will develop at the injection site and a slight discharge of the medicine will occur from the site as well - this is completely normal and to be expected. Alternate the injection site every time you administer meds via a syringe. Right side, left side, right side and so on each time you have to inject your ball python with meds. Do not guide the syringe on a downward angle as this can cause serious damage and possibly puncture the lung. The following photo depicts the angle that can cause serious life threatening damage.
If you’ve completed your final administration of meds and your ball python still has RI, you need to contact your vet right away. He or she will more than likely try a different medicine to see if it will be more effective at treating the infection.
In conclusion, as noted above and reiterated here again, observe how your vet is administering the meds and ask them any questions you might have when you’re there with your ball python. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask your vet.
looks very interesting!
bookmarked your blog.
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