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Ball Pythons (continued)

(Python Regius)

Ball Python Snake

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Provide a bowl of fresh water at all times. Your snake will both drink and soak, and may defecate, in it. Check it daily and change when soiled. Soaking is especially good just before a shed. When they eyes clear from their milky opaque, or "blue" state, soak the snake in a tub of warm water for ten minutes or so, then lightly dry it off, and return it immediately to its tank; it should shed cleanly within twenty-four hours.

Health problems

Routine veterinary care for newly acquired snakes is essential. Many of the parasites infesting Balls and other reptiles can be transmitted to humans and other reptiles. Left untreated, such infestations can ultimately kill your snake. When your snake first defecates, collect the feces in a clean plastic bag, seal it, label it with the date, your name and phone number and the snake's name, then take it and your snake to a vet who is experienced with reptiles. There it will be tested and the proper medication given if worms or protozoan infestations are found.

A common problem encountered in captivity include retained eye shed (spectacles) and mites. When snakes shed their skin, the layer of skin over their eye is also shed, and can be clearly seen when looking at a piece of head shed. Always check your Ball's head shed to assure it has shed the spectacles. If one or both spectacles have been retained, bathe the snake again in warmish water for about ten minutes. Before returning it to the enclosure, place a dab of mineral oil on that eye with a cotton-tipped swab. The spectacle should come off within twenty-four hours. If it does not come off, wrap your four fingers with transparent tape, sticky side out. Gently rock your fingers from left to right (or, from nose to neck) across the eye; the spectacle should come off. If this does not removed the spectacle, then seek veterinary assistance.

Mites are a sign of poor environmental conditions. Adult mites are tiny reddish brown dots barely bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. You may first notice them swarming over your hand and arm after you have handled your snake (don't worry--they are harmless to humans) or see them moving around your snake's body or clustered around the eyes. Mites are harmful to snakes, especially ones that have not been kept properly. On the positive side, they are easy and relatively inexpensive to get rid of, although the process is time-consuming.

Snakes, including ball pythons, should routinely shed is one piece, from snout (including spectacles) to tailtip. If a snake does not shed cleanly, it is a sign that something is not right, either with the snake or with its environment. Newly acquired snakes may not shed properly for the first month or two as they are getting acclimated to their new surroundings. This is a sign of transient stress. If it continues, or begins to occur in a long established snake, the snake must be evaluated for possible health problems, and the snake's environment must be evaluated for humidity problems.

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