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Snakes/Scale concern


Hi, I recently got myself a new ball python about two months ago, and probably wasn't much more than a month old at that time. She's nearing 18" - 24". I had a ball for about 4 years before this, but it was a larger snake that came to me as an established feeder and in great health, and I never had a problem with her. With this new snake, I've changed some of my set up, mostly for the positive (from reptibark oak to shredded coconut husks for substrate being the most drastic change, per research on preferred substrates). She seems to be in great health, though she's only had one shed with me so far, which was shortly after getting her from a petco (I know some chain pet shops don't do well with their reptiles, but this one looks to have healthy animals in that department all the time), and it took her about two weeks to be comfy enough to feed. Now she's an active feeder, is timid, but warms up after a minute or two of handling.

The reason I'm writing though, is because today (3/26/15) while gently handling her, I noticed what looked like to be some bunched up scales on her left side, right where her ventral scales meet her side. She doesn't seem to be in any pain or distress (other than being timid). I just want to catch anything before it gets worse! Do you have any idea if this is a big problem? Or something that might resolve itself with a shed?

The only theory I have is that she maybe got a little cut the other night when she fell (~6") from the fake-plants I have in her enclosure down to the substrate, and it's healing up. It's not weeping, discolored, odoriferous, and as I said doesn't seem to be causing her any distress.

Thank you for your consideration,

- Samuel

If the snake is 18-24" then it is anywhere from 6 months to 1 year depending on previous care. Usually ball pythons are hatched ( about 8") and kept for a month or more, they have to have their first shed then usually good breeders will feed 2 or more meals before making them publicly available. So it is likely the snake is a bit older.

Also, coconut husk is not a good substrate. It holds to much bacteria and moisture and can very easily cause scale rot as well as get caught under the scales and cause other bacterial issues. I keep all my ball pythons on apsen bedding.

As far as the issue with the scales, if they are not red, swollen or leaking any sort of fluid I would not worry to much. Any sort of sticks or fake plants can lift and injure scales. They might become translucent here soon, meaning they are dead, but should repair within a few sheds.

Check them over just to ensure there is no mites or substrate under neath them. If so, then rinse and treat accordingly. But as long as there does not appear to be any sort of infection or agitation ( swelling, redness, fluids) then it should not be a cause for concern.

Just watch them carefully for any changes. Let me know if you have any more questions and enjoy your new snake.  


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Amber Barrett


I can answer any and all questions about snakes, whether its how to pick the right snake for your needs and wants, eating and temperature issues, health problems ( I can not give a diagnosis or make up for vetrinary treatment but can give options on what to do). I can also answer any questions on breeding snakes, what it entitles, what you can expect, I know quite a bit about any products for snakes and their husbandry.


I currently keep over 150 snakes, I keep everything from ball pyhtons, to retics to green tree pythons. I have been around them my whole life due to a family interest in breeding them. I have researched, purchased, and delt with just about every snake, product and issue you can run into.

Although I do not have a degree in herpatology, I have been around snakes my whole life and through books, research and life I know alot about them.

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