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Old 11-03-17, 09:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Scarlet's medical diagnosis

Some of you may remember my postings asking for opinions on Scarlet as to what's wrong with her, I never have posted much on here so I won't blame you if you don't. Here's the old thread if you want to look at it Worried about a kinky spine.. A month ago I had finally found a reptile vet two hours from me who seems to have an idea as to what's wrong with her. He suspects she has osteitis deformans brought on by a bacterial infection, viral infection, or possibly cancer. He prescribed her an antibiotic to try and stop it if it is a bacterial infection causing it. He showed me her x-rays and pointed out the fact that she has a lot of dark splotchyness to her bones, moth-eaten as he put it, as well as several calcified areas. On yesterday's visit he recommended we add a second stronger antibiotic to help the first. He also showed me some pictures from a textbook of a boa constrictor that was diagnosed with deformans after autopsy, and I have to be honest it was tough seeing the deformed and destroyed bones. The vet and I did discuss that if she doesn't respond to antibiotics and continues to worsen then I may have to start thinking about her quality of life and euthanasia. I can tell in just the two years since I made that thread that her bones have gotten a lot worse. It makes me wonder how do you know when a snake is in pain? How do you know when they have had enough and would rather give up? There doesn't seem to be much known about these types of illnesses and I hope that in a few years we have more knowledge about it. Anyway I just wanted to give an update about her and maybe get some advice from others who have been in similar situations. I'll try to get some up to date pictures of Scarlet later today.
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Old 11-03-17, 09:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Scarlet's medical diagnosis

Sorry to hear your girl is having a rough time. I hope she makes a full and speedy recovery.
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Old 11-03-17, 09:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Scarlet's medical diagnosis

(Disclaimer: I am not a vet, all of this is from my knowledge about reptiles)

I am so sorry to hear about this, I was not around here for the original thread but I am sorry to hear this now. This disease sounds remarkably similar to inclusion body disease in columbian boa constrictors, but (to my knowledge) has not been documented in species of colubrids. IBD is not curable, so hopefully these two diseases are not related. I am not a vet, but to me it seems most likely to be viral. Cancer in reptiles is known (though not always) to come with tumors. Any bacterial infection should be able to be treated with strong courses of antibiotics, although I know no disease that would be so devastating. Viral disease can be harder to treat, and are more often more permanent then bacterial diseases, viruses don't respond to bacterial antibiotics. Cancer is much more rare then both of these, however, will not be affected by any bacterial antibiotics. All of this your vet probably told you. I'll admit, I am stumped, like I said this type of disease is much more common in boas and pythons. From what I know about IBD it is irreversible, slow, and a painful death. By slow, it takes a period of years. This disease seems to follow this same pattern and I am sorry this happened to you. At a certain point bone damage is irreversible. Snakes don't understand what happens to them, they can't make the decision on whether or not they want to give up, and it should be up to the keeper (I know that is a lot on you, but do the humane thing). I would put the snake down if none of your treatments work. I do have one last question though, what do you feed your snake, and how often does your snake feed?
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Old 11-03-17, 10:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Scarlet's medical diagnosis

Thanks guys. She has been dealing with this for almost the full nine years I’ve had her, perhaps the entire time and the symptoms just weren’t noticeable until later on. She still seems mobile even though her spine is drastically worse than a couple years ago. The vet told me that afflicted snakes that he has studied eventually got to the point where they could barely move because of the deformities and calcification and refused to eat. As for your question DJC, I feed her f/t adult mice every 3-4 weeks. I have tried to feed her every 2 weeks because she has always seemed a little thin to me but she refuses to eat more often than 3-4 weeks. The vet did tell me that most snakes that have infections won’t eat as often as they normally would if they were healthy.
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Old 11-03-17, 10:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Scarlet's medical diagnosis

I'm sorry I am at a loss, I hope you find a positive outcome.
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Old 11-11-17, 02:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Scarlet's medical diagnosis

Here are some images of a boa skeleton with bone cancer.

Here are photos of its body before being cleaned. From the outside you can't tell how sick he was.

I'm sorry about your sick snake. I hope its something that antibiotics can clean up and not cancer.
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Old 11-12-17, 06:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Scarlet's medical diagnosis

Hey Tx, sorry for the dilemma. Hoping the medical condition improves. Does the vet think any part of this is genetic or hereditary? Do you know if either of Scarlett's parents were afflicted or ill? Actually any info on her parentage at all?
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