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Q: Ball python bloated and hissing?
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So, my ball Python Pickles is bloated and hissing at me. Today was feed day as I do every 3 weeks (she's 11 yrs old ) and I give her a med sized rat. She went through shed two weeks ago and has pooped since. I went to pick her up and she was abnormally aggressive and I noticed that she is very bloated, all throughout the middle, and a little towards the tail. When I tried to pick her up she hissed at me. She's only done this one other time but it was right after a big meal (a large rat).. I'm not sure what to do or think? She's been active but it's unlike her to be aggressive unless it's right before shed. Her bloat looks uncomfortable to me so I assume that's what's bothering her. What could this possibly be? And I chose not to feed her as I don't even want to handle her in this state. Any help would be much appreciated!

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Topics: General Health
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Member Comment 9/10/2017 11:13:47 PM


Parasites will sometimes bloat the abdominal region and the smaller king, gopher, and rat snakes I've seen with worms often changed a bit in personality from either listless to angry.

Could also be a body wide infection, though I don't know the signs or symptoms for that when it's extreme. I've only dealt with smaller bacterial infections in isolated places on corn and water snakes. That and a male corn who once had a double eye infection that swelled up his whole head. Even these smaller infections can change temperament. Infections feel a little like cottage cheese under the skin, whereas cancer is a hard lump. While I've handled those before I have yet to really experience feeling bloat on a snake. The ones who had parasites showed the other symptoms a part from bloat before we treated them.

I would like to see other answers and suggestions posted on here too. Might be best for a vet visit though.

Author Comment 9/10/2017 11:46:38 PM

Gosh, thank you, I just don't know either. Maybe there is an infection or parasites? I took her out last Sunday for some exercise in the yard and she was healthy, happy and content. She's so very docile so this behavior is unlike her. I wonder if she may have caught something by me taking her out? I'm going to keep a close eye on her for the next day or two and go from there. She's been in her hide for the past few hours and I don't want to disturb her. Ugh, I feel sick over it. And if she is sick with something, I'm not sure how to handle her and take her to a vet if she's uncomfortable and aggressive. Makes me a little nervous to be honest.
Member Comment 9/11/2017 4:37:34 PM


first of all, she might be gassy and or constipated. even if she pooped, she may be retaining more. I'd soak her for a bit in lukewarm water and see if she just needs to lose some more fecal matter.

second of all, not all cancers are hard lumps; I would definitely not use that as a litmus.

if you do need to take her to see a vet, they will be comfortable handling her; they see everything. are you worried about your own handling of her? maybe pick her up through a small towel or use gloves to minimize the trauma for everyone involved.

Member Comment 9/11/2017 8:39:04 PM


Like I said I haven't had experience handling fully bloated reptiles and i've only handled one snake with cancerous lumps (confirmed by a vet). I have little experience, just chimed in with the bit I could offer. That's why I wanted to see the answers of those with far more experience on here. :)

Member Comment 10/9/2017 8:04:46 PM


A vet trip is in order.  If you're not sure of her not biting, put on a pair of smooth leather gloves, and put her in a pillow case for transport.  The fact she is uncomfortable and acting abnormally should be a red flag to get her to someone qualified to make a diagnosis.  They might need to do bloodwork, perhaps a radiograph.  Either way, I wouldn't NOT get her treated.  No matter how aggressive my snake is, if they need medical attention, I get them to it. A good reptile vet will be able to deal with a pissy snake.  Bring gloves to hold her if you must to assist the vet....that's what I do if I'm not sure the animal will react negatively to handling.

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