Dehydration is a serious problem that can cause complications that can even lead to the death of your ball python if not mitigated on time. Therefore, knowing the signs of dehydration and ways to rehydrate the snake quickly is important to prevent further complications. So, what does a dehydrated ball python look like?
A dehydrated ball python will have wrinkly skin, creasing eyes, constipation, and a dry mouth. A stuck shed may also occur due to inadequate moisture and enough fluids in the body. Mist your ball python lightly every day and provide drinking water to fix dehydration in your pet snake.
Signs of dehydration in ball pythons
Most signs of dehydration in ball pythons will be physical. Changes on the skin and eyes are the most common signs your pet snake is not getting enough water. By observing your snake both physically and behaviorally, you might be able to identify signs of dehydration and fix the problem soon enough.
Here are the signs of dehydration in ball pythons:
1. Wrinkled skin
Wrinkled skin is a sign of dehydration in ball python snakes. Of course, this can also be due to other factors, but it’s worth noting that wrinkling usually points to lack of water intake.
The skin around the eyes may be the first to show signs of low humidity or lack of fluids in the body. This kind of dehydration can be severe yet easy to spot in young ball python snakes compared to adults.
Try providing your snake with more humidity and temperature as ball pythons need moisture for their skins to stay healthy and hydrated.
2. Creasing eyes
Creasing eyes is a sign of dehydration in ball python snakes. This creasing might be slightly extreme and can affect the snake’s vision even though it usually isn’t very acute naturally.
Ball pythons have thin, transparent membranes called brilles or spectacles covering the larger part of the eye (cornea). When they are dehydrated, this membrane creases and cracks, making it visible when you check it out.
The creases on the eye will usually start as small lines that gradually turn into folds. The crease may start from one side only but then quickly form wrinkles across the whole surface area of an eyeball after a few days of low humidity and lack of fluids in the body.
3. Stuck shed
Dehydration can also contribute to a stuck shed in ball python snakes, especially juveniles. A stuck shed happens when the skin on your snake’s body gets stuck to its old overlaid one and cannot be removed naturally with shedding because there wasn’t enough moisture to come off easily.
This can happen as a result of not drinking water, extremely high temperatures, and low humidity in the snake’s enclosure.
4. Dry mouth and tongue
A dry mouth and tongue are also signs of dehydration in ball python snakes. This may be hard to see because a ball python has no lips or visible tongue except when it is tasting the air. In fact, if you’re keen, you may notice the snake is struggling to get its tongue out of the mouth due to the reduced lubrication.
If your snake’s mouth is dry, you can tell by the lack of saliva on the lining of its mouth and it will usually try licking itself for moisture (which might not work).
The most common reason reptiles get dehydrated to this level is due to improper diet. When these animals don’t have enough water intake via food themselves, their body gets deprived of fluids, leading to severe dehydration.
5. Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite could signify that your snake might be dehydrated, but it can also mean the snake has an infection or other health issues.
A loss of appetite in snakes may not necessarily mean they are completely dehydrated- but if you notice this symptom and others discussed above, there’s a good chance dehydration could be at play.
If your ball python is dehydrated, constipation may also occur. This constipation is usually caused by loss of fluids in the body, lack of nutrients, and not enough water intake through food. Constipation can lead to constrictions and bowel incontinence which will then lead to a decrease in appetite.
Constriction isn’t easy to detect if it doesn’t happen often but it happens, do take note because this could be an indication that digestion has slowed down due to low moisture levels in the gut of the snake.
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Causes of dehydration in snakes
Poor husbandry, usually common with newbies at pet snakes, is the main cause of dehydration. Even though ball pythons are private creatures, they still need constant attention to make sure their enclosures are well set up and the food is provided frequently enough. If you’re not caring for your pet snake well enough, you’ll notice signs of dehydration at some point.
Here are the causes of dehydration in ball python snakes:
1. Low humidity
Ball python snakes require a stable humidity of around 60% to be comfortable. If the air is too dry, they’ll start trying to lick themselves and drink from their water dish more frequently than usual in an attempt to stay hydrated.
Low humidity poses a great danger of injury to the snake as the skin will not be moist enough to facilitate proper movement over obstacles in the tank.
2. High temperatures
Ball pythons have specific heating requirements therefore extreme heat in the snake’s environment will lead to excessive water loss causing dehydration.
If high temperatures persist for too long, the snake’s skin becomes dry and wrinkly because of a lack of moisture in the body. This is one sign that may go unnoticed at first but it will eventually show as time progresses – especially if you don’t react quickly enough by providing more water or lowering the temperature on your ball python’s enclosure.
3. Lack of drinking water
If you do not provide a dish of drinking water for your ball python snake, it will eventually become dehydrated. Lack of drinking water can lead to more serious problems such as compaction and indigestion.
A loss of appetite will soon follow, which will also mean that the snake will start to lose weight rapidly.
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Ways to Rehydrate Your Ball Python
As soon as you notice your snake is dehydrated, start fixing the problem to save the pet. While there are severe instances when you need to take the snake to a reptile veterinarian to help with the treatment, you can start with simple DIY home remedies.
Here are ways to rehydrate a dehydrated ball python:
1. Mist the tank
The first thing you want to do to save your ball python is misting. Mist the snake and its enclosure to help increase the humidity and prevent further loss of moisture by the snake. Misting of the tank will help to keep your snake hydrated, while also regulating its temperature.
2. Provide drinking water (water dish)
Another great fix for a dehydrated ball python is to provide drinking water. Provide a dish of fresh drinking water for your snake to drink from. Replenish the drinking water as often as possible to make sure there’s enough water for all your snakes.
Position a water bowl in the cage so that it may drink from time to time. Dehydration can make snakes weak and thirsty, making them want to drink more often than they would normally do. Put one or two bowls near the entrance for easy access when your pet snake needs.
Do not put too many bowls on top of each other, as this could lead to tipping over and spilling out all of their contents onto the floor underneath the substrate.
3. Soak the snake
Soaking a dehydrated ball python in warm water can be an excellent way to rehydrate the snake.
Soak your pet snake for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 60 minutes as too much time in the bath will also cause dehydration. You may need more than one bowl of water depending on how big or small your snake is and how many snakes you have that are all being soaked together.
While it’s important not to leave a very young, short-tailed snake soaking for any length of time due to pressure on its spine, most adult ball pythons should be able to handle about an hour without injury. Just make sure they’re well supported with floating material like cork bark branches so that they’re not left in a position that would cause unnecessary stress to their spine.
Leave the snake soaking with its head raised up and out of the water, so it can breathe freely during this time. After 30-60 minutes have passed since they were first submerged, carefully remove them from the bath and place them on a towel or newspaper to dry off.
How long can a ball python go without water?
A ball python can go up to 12 days without water but will die after about one month of dehydration. However, if you feed your snake on moist foods, it can survive longer than 12 days because it will get some fluids from its prey.
Apart from providing drinking water and humidifying its enclosure, provide your ball python with foods that contain plenty of food to help them maintain their hydration levels.
Keep in mind that the risks of a dehydrated ball python snake include kidney failure, respiratory infections, and eye infections. In addition, aA severe lack of fluids in the body will lead to death as it is an essential part of the reptile’s biology.
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