Choosing a Healthy Snake

Are you considering getting a snake for a pet? Snakes are beautiful animals, and are truly fascinating. Choosing the snake you are going to bring back to your Poway home can be a bit difficult. Snakes are fairly easy to care for, but they can get sick if their habitat conditions aren’t right. Even little details being slightly off can cause a sick to become stressed out or get ill. Snakes that are in pet stores or trade shows can be stressed by their environments even if given the best care. If you’ve never had a snake before, you may have a hard time choosing a snake that is healthy.

Here are a few pointers:

Body Condition

Healthy snakes should not be skinny or bony, but should have solid, smooth flesh. Swellings may be indicative of an illness, infection, or disease.


You should not see any feces on a reptile’s skin. If you do, the animal has likely been kept in an unclean cage. It could have parasites, or be ill.


A healthy snake’s eyes should be clean and clear. You shouldn’t see any ‘crusties’ or liquid discharge. There is an exception to this rule: snakes that are about to molt may have milky or cloudy looking eyes.


A healthy snake’s mouth will be either pale pink or gray. If you see any patches of white, yellow or green, the snake could have mouth rot or another illness. Another thing to watch out for is saliva that has a stringy appearance.


A healthy snake’s skin should be smooth and shiny. You should not see any scrapes, scratches, or burn marks. There should not be any patches of old skin, as snakes should shed their skin in one piece.


Check for any mucous or discharge in the snake’s nostrils, and try to listen to its breathing. Healthy snakes will not wheeze or rasp when breathing. Their breath should be even and steady. Snakes also should not breathe through their mouths.


A healthy snake may not be happy to be picked up, but it should be alert and aware. Its tongue should be flicking, and it should react in some way to someone reaching into the cage. A snake that seems listless or uninterested in what is going on around it may not be in good condition.

Please check our site frequently for updates and more articles about pet care from your Poway vet.

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