Snakes that develop pneumonia usually get it because another problem they had has weakened their immune system. Typically a respiratory illness, mouth or sinus infection went untreated or mites will be a primary cause.
Symptoms of Snake Pneumonia
Symptoms of pneumonia in snakes are:
- Open mouth breathing
- Bubbles around their mouth
- Nasal discharge
If your snake has any of the above symptoms they should be taken to your vet immediately. Pneumonia is a very serious problem and can be life threatening. Your vet will be able to show you how to use the medication that they prescribe. One thing that is often suggested is to raise your snake’s enclosure so that the warm side is at the high end of their preferred heat.
It’s best to keep them away from any other snakes or reptiles to avoid them also catching pneumonia.
Diagnosing Snake Pneumonia
Diagnosing pneumonia can be difficult because the symptoms are often similar to other illnesses. Your veterinarian will likely take a sample of their respiratory secretions and send it to a laboratory for testing. The lab tests can help identify the cause of the pneumonia and determine the best course of treatment.
Stages of Snake Pneumonia
Snake pneumonia can be split into three stages:
Your snake is in the early stages of infection and might only have mild symptoms like nasal discharge or a slight fever.
Your snake’s symptoms become more severe and they can have difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and lethargy.
This is the most serious stage of pneumonia and can be fatal if left untreated. Your snake can have difficulty breathing, a high fever, and respiratory distress.
Treating Snake Pneumonia
Treating pneumonia will depend on the cause of the infection. Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics, while viral and fungal infections will need antiviral or antifungal medications. In some cases, supportive care such as oxygen therapy and fluids might also be necessary.
It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully when treating snake pneumonia. If left untreated, the infection can be fatal.
Preventing Snake Pneumonia
The best way to prevent snake pneumonia is to keep your snake’s environment clean and free of any potential sources of infection. This includes regularly cleaning their enclosure, making sure they have clean fresh water, and avoiding overcrowding.
It’s also important to monitor your snake for any signs of illness and take them to the veterinarian if necessary. Early evaluation and treatment can help keep their infection from becoming more serious.