Ball Pythons selecting a potentially healthy snake

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Selecting a potentially healthy Ball Python, This is one of the most important steps in starting a Ball Python collection and maintaining it. If you are not prudent when you acquire new specimens you will possibly regret it in the long run. You could unknowingly bring disease into you Ball Python collection. Always remember to quarantine immediately all newly acquired incoming reptiles away from your main collection for a minimum of six months. The following information to be used as a simple guideline, again a veterinarian is the only one who can truly diagnose the snake through testing.




  1. Captive born and bred Ball Pythons are you best choice when selecting a new snake. Next you would consider Captive hatched Ball Pythons. The last choice would be an imported baby. An adult imported Ball Python should be avoided, especially if you are inexperienced.  An adult imported Ball Python can give even experienced herpetologist problems, aside from the many parasites they harbor it takes on average three years for acclimation.


  1. The Ball Python should give a distinct impression of strength and muscle tone. Avoid any that have pronounced back bone showing, signs of limpness and poor muscle tone. The skin should be tight and not overly loose.


  1. Next are a series of steps that will assist you in selecting a potentially healthy Ball Python.:


    • If you have someone to assist you this will be easier to perform, hold the snake behind the head with one hand (while the body is being supported by an assistant) and with the other hand, gently pull the skin underneath the lower jaw to open the mouth of the animal. Look for the presence of bubbly mucus which would be a sign of a respiratory infection. Another technique to determine this is to leave the mouth of the snake closed, with the thumb of the free hand gently press against the throat area. In snakes with respiratory infections this will often cause mucus to emerge from the sides of the mouth or nostrils. Avoid snakes with signs of respiratory infections, this could easily spread to the others in you collection.     


    • If you have someone to assist you this will be easier to perform, hold the snake behind the head with one hand (while the body is being supported by an assistant) and with the other hand, gently pull the skin underneath the lower jaw to open the mouth of the animal. Look for the presence of mouth rot (stomatitis). This will appear as areas of gums covered with caseous (cheesy-looking) matter. In some cases, red raw injured gums and injured will appear. Again, avoid animals with these symptoms. Also be cautious of any snakes that show black areas in the mouth this can be from injuries or infections that would possibly affect the animals’ ability to eat.


    • Check to make sure the eyes are clear. If the snake is in shed, both eyes should demonstrate equal levels of opacity (clouding over).


    • Check the body for bumps and depressed areas along the back bone. Check for collapsed areas along the sides of the body. This is a sign of broken ribs. This is a problem I have seen with imported babies due to the packing procedures used when exporting them out of Africa.


    • Check the belly area to make sure it’s free of signs of infection (raised ventral scales, stained and damaged scales Etc.).


    • Check the vent area (opening to the cloaca) to make sure the anal scales lies flat against the body and is free of any caked or crusty matter. Make sure the surrounding area is free of signs of smeared diarrhea. Look for any grey or unusually dark areas just above the cloaca. Avoid snakes with any of these symptoms. Please refer to our care and maintenance section on the snake anatomy for a picture of the vent area.  


    • Look for ticks, theses are large rounded and flat external parasites. Virtually al imported Ball Pythons harbor these. If present, keep in mind they will have to be removed when the animal gets home (quarantine immediately). Check for mites, these are tiny rounded and bead- like arthropods. They can be seen moving on the body of the snakes. With patience and close inspection the can be seen if present. They also can be imbedded between the rims of the eyes themselves, causing a raised impression to the rims. Two reliable indicators of mites are the presence of scattered white flecks (mite feces) on the body of a snake and following the inspection of a snake mites crawling on your hands. Unless you are willing to deal with the treatment of theses parasites, avoid mite-infested snakes. They are extremely hard to eradicate. They can easily infest the rest of your collection.      




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:

Philippe de Vosjili, published by Advanced vivarium  Systems.

Ball Python Yellow Belly (Het Ivory) .jpg

Ball Python Yellow Belly (Het Ivory).

Ball Python Care and Maintenance Sheets.

  • Disclaimer: please read before using this site. Any information posted on this web site is for general entertainment and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information provided by this web site is not a substitute for actual medical attention. Always promptly consult your licensed veterinary health-care professional for your pet's medical advice and treatment

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