What Python and Boa Owners Need to Know

Let's talk about what python and boa owners need to know about retrovirus infections.

If you have a pet python or boa constrictor then you need to be aware of inclusion body disease. Why? Because is it one of the most common and deadly viral diseases to those two types of snakes.

Inclusion body disease is caused by the retrovirus. This disease affects many parts of a snake's body including their organs and internal systems. Boa constrictors tend to live a lot longer with IBD than pythons with the same disease.

How can you know if your snake has this disease? It is more difficult to tell in boa's because they can have the disease years before any of their symptoms show. IBD usually kills pythons quickly. By the time you notice a python's symptoms they could already be close to death.

The signs of IBD include the following: loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, skin ulcers, vomiting, bacterial infection, and delayed healing to wounds and injuries. As previously stated, these symptoms can appear suddenly or remain invisible for quite some time. Other symptoms can also arise in more severe cases or later stages of the disease. These severe signs of IBD include the following neurological symptoms: muscle spasms, seizures, inability to roll, and abnormal flicking of the snake's tongue.

If your snake has these symptoms, there isn't anything you or your veterinarian can do except for help decrease the symptoms so the snake can die in a more pleasant manner. There is no treatment or cure for IBD. If your snake appears to be suffering or you want to prevent it from suffering, euthanasia is an option.

IBD is an horrible disease and it's unfortunate that so many snakes get it. If you have multiple snakes, and one develops IBD make sure you take precautions to avoid the retrovirus or IBD from spreading to your other snakes.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your veterinarian or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.