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Ball Pythons: wounds, Mites & Ticks

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Prevention, prevention, prevention is the key to keeping your Ball Pythons healthy. As I have mentioned many times before quarantine all new arrivals for minimum of three months, more time may be necessary depending on the out come of the quarantine process. Hygiene is extremely important in maintaining a healthy Reptile collection.  

Ball Pythons are Ectothermic meaning; having body temperature that varies with the environment. Ball Pythons must have optimum temperature in which to operate in a healthy manner. This holds especially true during the intake and digestion of food. A snake kept too low will loose its appetite and cause its digestive process to be inefficient. The food will only be partially digested in the gut and lack of digestive juices will allow putrefying organisms to attack the food, causing bloating and maybe even Toxicaemia.

Wounds and injuries: Do not use heat rocks, in doing so you can cause severe burns to your snake. Heat pads must be placed outside underneath your enclosure or tank. It should be regulated by a thermostat; we use Helix and Ranco systems. Rodent bites and cuts can become infected if not treated. A shallow wound usually will heal quickly if swabbed daily with a mild antiseptic such as providone-iodine, Neosporin or Triple antibiotic ointment. Deeper wounds should be treated by a veterinarian.

Ectoparasites: Mites and Ticks are the most usual blood –sucking Ectoparasites (living outside the body) associated with snakes. A mite infestation can be regarded as serious, as mites can often multiply to large numbers in the enclosure in large numbers before they are even noticed due to their size. It is important to understand that mites do not always stay on the Reptiles. They will frequently hide in crevices in the enclosure and come out at night to feed. Mites will suck out the blood of the snake through the softer skin between the scales. If mites are allowed to multiply they can cause problem such as stress, shedding problems, anemia, loss of appetite and eventually death. They also can transmit blood pathogenic organisms from one reptile to another. One way to tell if you have a mite infestation is the white flecks (mite feces) that can be seen on the snakes. We use Prevent-a-mite and Reptile Relief to treat all incoming snakes followed by three month quarantine period before they are introduced into our collection. The items listed are not all used on the snakes; they are used in conjunction to eradicate and prevent mites. Some breeders use powders or sprays with pyrethrins or a 5% Sevin dust to kill mites and ticks. I do not like to use Pest strips; they can be very toxic to your snakes if not used properly.

Ticks: Imported Ball Pythons usually will have ticks. Ticks range up to .25 in/ 5 mm in length. They fasten themselves with their piercing mouthparts to the snake’s skin. Do not attempt to pull a tick directly out as its head may be left embedded in the skin, this could cause an infection. To remove the tick apply a dab of rubbing alcohol (Surgical spirit, Meths, or even a drop of Rum) to relax the mouthparts of the tick. After about ten minute you should be able to remove the tick with tweezers.

 

These are some of the guidelines we use at the Living Art Reptile’s facility. I hope you find this information helpful.  Happy Herping!

 

Best of luck,

 

Living Art Reptiles.

 

Source Information:

Living Art Reptiles, Philippe de Vosjili, published by Advanced vivarium  Systems and John Coborn.

Mites the is the type relevant to Ball Pythons.
Mite (Dr. Fredric L. Frye).

Ticks, the is the type relevant to Ball Pythons.
Tick: (Dr. Fredric L. Frye).

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