Scale rot is typically caused by malnutrition or conditions in their enclosure being too humid or too moist. Oddly enough if the substrate is too dry it can also cause scale rot. Scale rot is not a problem that will appear overnight. It can take a few weeks for it to develop. An early sign of scale rot is small blisters on their body, typically on their belly where they have the most contact with the substrate.
Symptoms of Scale Rot
Symptoms of scale rot include:
- Scale discoloration and shedding
- Swelling in the affected area
You’ll want to identify the cause of the scale rot, and take steps to make their enclosure a more healthy environment. Check the temperature and humidity and make sure they’re within the optimal range your snake needs. Make sure their enclosure is clean, and that there is no waste build up anywhere. Check the substrate to make sure that it’s moist but not soaked with water.
If everything above checks out, another cause of scale rot can be if their skin was cut by something in their enclosure. Look for any rough edges, anything that could have cut their skin. You’ll want to remove anything that can cut their skin to prevent future infections.
No matter the cause, it’s a good idea to completely clean their enclosure and replace the substrate. You’ll want to make a judgment call on taking your snake to your vet. Most owners won’t go to the vet unless the scale rot goes beyond their skin. Many snake owners will soak their snakes in a betadine bath (1 to 10 ratio betadine to water) and then follow up the bath with an antimicrobial ointment.
Diagnosing Scale Rot
In order to diagnose snake scale rot, a veterinarian will need to examine the affected area and take a sample of the scales for testing. The vet may also take a blood sample in order to check for any underlying health issues that could be contributing to the infection. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the vet can then recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Stages of the Scale Rot
The stages of snake scale rot can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Scale rot typically has three stages:
1. Early Stage
At this stage, their scales may appear discolored or have a yellowish hue. Their skin may be slightly swollen and tender to the touch.
2. Middle Stage
During this stage, their scales will begin to shed and the skin may become red and inflamed.
3. Late Stage
At this stage, their scales will have completely fallen off and their skin may be severely swollen and discolored. In some cases, there may also be a foul odor or discharge from the affected area.
Treatment for Scale Rot
In order to treat snake scale rot, it’s important to identify the underlying cause of the infection. If overcrowding or unclean living conditions are the culprit, then these should be addressed first. Once the environment has been improved, antibiotics can be used to treat the infection. It’s also important to keep the affected area clean and dry in order to prevent further spread of the bacteria. In some cases, the scales may need to be removed surgically in order to prevent further damage.
Once the infection has been treated, it’s important to monitor your snake’s health closely and give them proper nutrition and care. The extra care will help ensure that their scales regrow properly and that your snake remains healthy.
Additionally, regular vet visits should be scheduled in order to check for any signs of recurrence or other health issues.
Preventing Scale Rot
Preventing scale rot is key to keeping your pet healthy and happy. The best way to prevent the infection is to ensure that your snake’s living environment is clean and well-maintained. This means regularly cleaning their enclosure, making sure they have enough fresh water. It also means ensuring that the temperature and humidity levels are appropriate for your species of snake.
A balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals is very important to help keep your snake’s immune system strong. Finally, it’s important to monitor your snake for any signs of illness or injury and take them to the vet if necessary.