Scale rot is a common problem many Ball Python owners encounter. If left untreated, it can be fatal. However, there are ways to prevent and treat Ball Python scale rot.
Ideally, you should check your Ball Python for scale rot at least two times a week, or even more frequently if you suspect your Python is infected. This way, you’ll know your pet snake has scale rot as soon as it appears, and you’ll be able to treat it accordingly. Here’s what you need to know about the prevention and treatment of Ball Python scale rot.
Ball Python Scale Rot Prevention
It’s always better to prevent a problem than to treat it. Here’s what we can do every day to prevent Ball Python scale rot from appearing.
Snakes are highly specific about their moisture and humidity needs. Ball Pythons prefer the cage they are in at about 50-60% humidity, unless they’re shedding, in which case they like it at around 65-75%. Snakes are wild animals, so they need an environment that mimics the one they live in naturally. That’s why humidity can cause many problems in snakes, whether it’s too high or too low.
To get humidity under control, you should be mindful of two things — heat and airflow. Use heat lamps to ensure your ball python’s cage isn’t too cold. Along with keeping the temperature optimal, heat lamps burn off moisture, so high humidity won’t be a problem. Additionally, you should make sure to keep your python away from drafts, as they don’t like cold airflow.
When buying bedding, you should keep two key things in mind. Firstly, the substrate shouldn’t be too coarse because it can cause scratches and harm your snake. Secondly, it should collect feces and odors effectively.
Sand collects waste, but it’s too rough for Ball Pythons. That means it can scratch your snake, causing scale rot. Instead, you should opt for newspapers or towels. They’re gentle on the Python’s skin, collect waste, and are easily replaceable.
Cypress mulch is also a great choice. It holds enough humidity, won’t be too rough on your snake, and it looks good. However, as mites tend to live in cypress woods, you should be careful about mite infestation.
Ball Python Scale Rot Treatment
No matter what you do to prevent it, scale rot may still appear. If you notice scale discoloration, blisters, or raised scales, you should start treating your snake immediately. Here’s what you should do to treat Ball Python scale rot:
Clean the Cage and Quarantine Your Snake
Clean the cage thoroughly. You should also remove the bedding and clean everything that was in the cage. Additionally, put your snake in another enclosed space, with clean, soft towels underneath. This way, your snake can quarantine until you wash it. Clean the rest of the area where your snake usually is. Once your snake is healed, throw away any towels you used for it while it was quarantined.
Betadine baths are a great way to treat scale rot. You’ll need a large container and a bottle of betadine solution. Pierce a few holes on the lid of the container so the snake can breathe. Fill the container halfway with a mixture of lukewarm water and betadine (10:1). Place the snake in the container and close it. Leave it in for about 30 minutes, and dry it thoroughly afterward.
By keeping a few things in mind, you can easily prevent Ball Python scale rot. However, if scale rot does appear, you need to act fast in treating it. Early treatment of scale rot can save your Ball Python’s life.