Ball pythons are one of the most common snakes kept as pets and for good reason.
Not only are they easy to care for, but they stay small relative to other snake species and typically have calm personalities.
A healthy ball python will be alert and responsive to its environment while showing a healthy appetite and an absence of any physical abnormalities.
One way to tell if your ball python is healthy is by looking at its mouth.
The mouth should be clean with no discharge. Although the inside of the mouth may look pink or even red, it should not have any black spots or areas that look like flesh wounds on it.
Keep reading for a complete guide on how to check if your ball python’s mouth looks healthy.
What are the signs of a healthy ball python mouth?
Here are some signs of a healthy ball python mouth:
1. Bright eyes
Bright eyes are one of the most obvious signs of a healthy ball python. Healthy snakes have bright eyes that appear clear and alert.
If you suspect your snake may be sick or stressed, look at its eyes first!
2. Good muscle tone
A healthy snake will have good muscle tone throughout its body, especially around its head where it has been eating recently.
A healthy ball python should not appear lethargic or weak in any way whatsoever.
If the mouth looks dirty, wash it with soap and water. You can also try cleaning it with baking soda or Betadine; your vet should be able to tell you which method is best for your snake.
4. A white tongue
When your python eats its prey whole — or most of the time — its tongue will turn white due to all the blood inside it.
This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about as long as it happens only occasionally and not every time you feed your snake!
5. Healthy gums
The inside of your ball python’s mouth should be pink with no visible sores or lesions on either side of its upper jawbone (maxilla).
Some owners have reported seeing black spots inside their pets’ mouths.
6. No visible wounds on the lips or gums
A healthy ball python will have smooth lips without any sores or cuts.
If you see any bumps or scrapes on your snake’s lips, it could be an indication of an infection or other medical issue. Check with your vet if you notice any sores on your snake’s mouth or gums.
7. Excessive drooling or excessive sloughing of skin
If your ball python is constantly drooling or sloughing off excess skin from its body, then there could be an issue with its health.
A healthy snake will not normally have this much saliva coming out of its mouth unless it’s eating something really tasty!
If your pet seems to have more than normal saliva coming out of its mouth
What are the signs of an unhealthy ball python mouth?
A healthy ball python mouth will look symmetrical without any lumps or droopy sections. The skin should be clean and smooth. If you notice any of the following, there may be a problem:
- Any lumpiness on the inside of the mouth. A snake with a lumpy mouth should be seen by your veterinarian immediately. Do not attempt to take care of this yourself.
- Drooping skin around the mouth. When this happens, it’s usually a sign that humidity levels in your snake’s enclosure are too low, causing their skin to become dehydrated.
- They refuse food for no obvious reason (they’re not impacted, for example). You should suspect something is wrong if your pet refuses food for more than two weeks or longer.
- Their eyes are closed for an extended period of time instead of remaining open most of the time (this is normal behavior when they sleep).