Owners dealing with a wounded snake will have many concerns about if they can help their pet fully recover.
Thankfully, as long as cuts and other wounds are treated with proper care and attention, snakes can completely heal from their injuries without having to deal with further complications.
Today, we will discuss the best care options for wounded snakes to ensure a steady healing process.
If you notice a wound while inspecting your snake, you may be tempted to panic. An injured snake can be a frightening ordeal, but this does not mean that you need to start worrying about your animal succumbing to its injuries any time soon. Snakes are resilient creatures, and with proper assistance from pet owners, they can go on to live happy, healthy lifespans.
Before you begin to wonder what your snake’s chances of making a complete recovery are, it is crucial to identify what kind of injury your pet has sustained, so you can take the correct steps to treat it. When snake owners can recognize the severity of the wound and how to address it, their pet has a much better likelihood of recuperating without issues.
Types of Wounds
Cuts, abrasions, and lacerations can either be easier or more difficult to treat, depending on how deep they are into the skin. Deeper wounds may require stitches to help keep the wound closed, while more shallow cuts typically only involve minor treatments. If your snake has more than one wound on different parts of the body, it will be imperative to thoroughly inspect and clean each cut daily to ward away infection.
While all breaks to the skin will need proper care to reduce the risk of infection, bites and scratches will carry a higher risk of contamination and will possibly need more thorough disinfection. Deeper wounds will also take longer to heal fully than more superficial wounds.
Older snakes will especially need closer supervision of their wounds, as their immune systems will not be as active in fighting off infections as the immune systems of younger snakes. Since their age has made them more delicate, older snakes will require much more daily attention to make sure their wound is healing as it should be.
In any case, it is important to remain calm and remember your snake can pull through to make a full improvement from most wounds when given proper care. By treating open cuts with the appropriate care, snake owners can increase their snake’s likelihood of survival no matter what kind of wound the animal is dealing with.
There comes a risk of infection with any laceration to the skin, more so if the wound remains untreated. Sometimes even with proper prep work, however, diseases can still occur—but not to worry. Taking adequate safety measures can decrease the likelihood of additional illnesses developing and will give your snake a better chance of recovering as quickly and as stress-free as it possibly can.
The diseases commonly found in wounded snakes often display visible symptoms that snake owners can watch for so that proper steps can be taken to cure them.
When assessing a wounded snake, one primary concern is the development of scale rot, an infection of the skin that can spread to the bloodstream. Scale rot typically presents itself as scale discoloration and as blisters that occur near the site of the wound.
A rarer disease that can develop in injured snakes is Ophidiomycosis or snake fungal disease. Like scale rot in snakes, snake fungal disease often appears as discoloration in scales, but additional signs can include swelling of the skin and scale flaking.
To avoid these common ailments, appropriately dressing any tears in the skin until the wound can close itself will be the highest priority.
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it would be wisest to schedule a visit to the vet for your snake, as they may need to be prescribed medication.
While the diseases discussed earlier can occur through a contaminated wound, snake owners can halt infection and keep their pets safe by taking a few precautions depending on the kind of injury.
Items you may need:
- Antiseptic iodine
- Tub or container
- Cloth or towel
- Petroleum jelly
- Antibiotics (if prescribed by vet)
For deep cuts and lacerations, a trip to a local veterinarian specializing in exotic animal care will be necessary. This way, a professional can look at injuries to determine if stitches may be needed to aid in the healing process. A veterinarian may also prescribe oral antibiotics for your snake to be given daily while it heals for deeper wounds.
A great way to clean a cut on a snake is to bathe it in an antiseptic iodine mixture to get rid of bacteria and other contaminants. Once the injury has been adequately addressed and inspected as to whether it will need stitches, a diluted Betadine soak (also called Povidone-iodine) can help keep shallow cuts and abrasions free from infection.
Snakes can be soaked in a tub, or a Tupperware container with a mix of ten parts water to one part Betadine solution for about 10 to 15 minutes daily to sanitize the wound. It is essential to ensure the animal’s mouth and nose are always kept above the water so your snake can stay safe and comfortable.
After a Betadine soak disinfects the cut, Petroleum jelly can be applied to the wounded area to help seal it off from contaminants. Since your snake will likely be moving around in its temperature and humidity-controlled enclosure while it continues to heal, it is a good idea to re-apply a few dabs of Petroleum jelly every few hours before the substance can be rubbed off completely.
Now that we have gone over some ways to help a snake successfully recover from an injury, you may be wondering how long you will have to place this extra care over your pet’s wound before it has completely filled in with new skin.
Typically, wounds in snakes can take longer to heal than they will for other pets, such as cats and dogs. Snake owners can expect anywhere from three to four weeks before their snake fully recovers from a cut or wound, with younger snakes often healing faster. Wounded skin that has begun to scab over is considered the first sign of healing, and after a few sheds, the skin should start to look as good as new.
To hurry this process along and make sure that your snake recovers with little to no issues, it is vital to keep a close eye on the wound and treat it accordingly. Untreated cuts in the skin can lead to infections and diseases such as those discussed earlier, and these additional issues will only prolong the time it takes for your snake to recover.
In the meantime, however, there are other things you can do to make sure your snake is kept safe and sound while it heals.
Whether a snake has just been nursed back to health from a wound or has never dealt with an injury in its life, to begin with, owners may be questioning how they can protect their animal from further harm. Due to snakes’ lack of armored scales, fur, or feathers to protect their sensitive skin, they have a higher chance of being cut or scraped than other pets, so they will require more protection in their day-to-day lives.
Rest assured, however, that snake owners can take certain steps to keep their pets from becoming harmed again or for the first time. You can do so by educating yourself on what are snakes afraid of.
Securing your Snake’s Habitat
Safety starts with the environment that the snake spends most of its time in. We often want our snakes’ habitats to be enriching spaces filled with lots of fun places to climb, bask and hide, but at the same time, it is important to decorate these enclosures without accidentally creating hazards along the way.
Positioning hides, branches, basking spots, and other decorations inside a snake’s enclosure or terrarium so that they cannot fall and hurt the animal is one of the best ways to prevent injuries. Heavier objects such as rocks should especially be placed in such a way that they are not wobbly or prone to collapsing.
Inspect your snake’s habitat and remove any pointy objects that might cut them while they explore their habitat. Some sharp hazards to look out for include broken shards of clay or ceramic ornaments and the ends of wires that can sometimes stick out of decorative vines and other fake plants.
Making Feeding Time a Safer Experience
Another common way that snakes receive wounds is through live-feeding mishaps, where snakes are sometimes scratched or bitten by live prey such as mice, rats, and other rodents. While not all snakes will be receptive to pre-killed prey, training your pet to eat this rather than living feeder animals will be the best option to keep them safe.
Thawing frozen prey, heating it in a cup of warm water, and then drying it with a towel is an excellent way to entice your snake to start eating non-live prey. Snakes are naturally drawn to differences in temperature, so warming frozen prey can be a great way to “trick” your snake into thinking that the prey is alive.
Wound care for snakes can seem like a daunting task at first, but snakes are hardier animals than we often give them credit for, especially when owners know what their options are. With the care advice in mind that we have gone over, your snake can get to feeling better in no time.
Regularly cleaning the wound and looking out for common infections and diseases will allow your snake to heal. In addition, maintaining a safe habitat for your snake to live and feed in will help avoid other injuries.
By remembering what symptoms to watch for as far as infections go and practicing the tips that we have discussed to protect your snake better, owners can help their pets make a speedy recovery without dealing with the hassle of a disease or another injury.