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Old 12-29-18, 10:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

Hi all,

I am looking for advice on a wound that appeared on the back of my 1 year old ball python, Khal. I wasn't able to identify what exactly caused it. I looked over the entire enclosure - he is in no contact with heat lamps so it doesn't seem like it could be a burn. In the first picture it looks like a burn but I have no idea how that could happen. His heat source is a heat mat plugged into a thermostat. It looks more like a cut or a tear now. My only thought was maybe his climbing tree, there were no sharp edges and I made sure of that before putting it in his enclosure however, there are some rough spots so this is my only guess. I took that out just in case. I have been researching and snake skin is supposed to be very tough like leather, so the fact that his skin tore so easily may be due to his life before I got him.

Khal came from the local pet store. He wasn't eating, or shedding very well before I got him and I read the temp/humidity on his enclosure at the pet store and both were very low. I had been warned about buying pets from this pet store, I didn't really go there to buy one, I was just looking at the snakes and he was so sweet and I fell in love with him so I wanted to bring him home to give him a good life. I brought him home in the beginning of April, 2018 (7 months ago) and he was 79.1 grams. I immediately took him to the reptile vet to be evaluated and he had some kind of gas causing bacteria in his stomach so he got a series of shots to get rid of it. This was the only issue found other than being malnourished.

I have been keeping a journal and keeping track of his weight and health since he wasn't exactly in the best shape when I got him. Within the first 2 months he was eating like a champion (the petstore worker told me they had to force feed him) His first 2 sheds were a little rough but after that they have been one big beautiful piece each time. He is in a very consistent and healthy environment and he has been thriving. He now weighs 435 grams.

So after I had him for about 3 months the wound appeared on his backside on July 5th (about 5 months ago) I will include a picture of the very first appearance of the wound vs now. After I found it I immediately sanitized his entire enclosure and called the vet. When I took him in, the vet was unable to determine what caused the wound. It seems like the theory is, his skin was fragile from being malnourished so it got easily damaged by a rough edge of his tree. OR they also said it could have been a blister that came up through the skin caused by bacteria or something from the pet store. To confirm this for sure they would have had to take a sample from his wound and send it away for testing, they recommended just treating the wound as this is expensive and didn't seem necessary at the time. They gave me SSD cream and told me to keep it clean and apply this cream. The wound started healing and was going away and had a thin scab over the top. However, when he shed, it peeled off the top layer and the wound looked open again. So I kept it clean and used the ointment and it started looking good again. However, he shed again then boom the wound is open again! When he sheds it is in all one piece and he is shedding very well.

So it starts healing again and then he sheds for a third time and it is open AGAIN. This same day, December 9th (20 days ago) he was hungry and I fed him the next size up prey which is the appropriate weight and size for him. However, I think the size of the prey stretched out the wound and it looks worse than ever now. (see picture# 2) I sized up his prey because I had to feed him multiple of the smaller mice to meet the weight requirement and he was always still looking after one. In hindsight I feel awful about sizing up when he had a wound. I just knew it was time to size up so I did and I feel terrible now. I have switched back to the smaller mice and use my scale to weigh out how many to give him so it doesn't stretch out his wound anymore. The picture on December 9th looks bad but by December 11th (picture# 3) it already started looking better with wound care.

This has been extremely frustrating. I emailed the vet with picture and explained. They said the wound looks very clean just "meaty" They told me to keep doing what I am doing and it will heal slowly.

This is my cleaning process that I do every other day. If anyone has something that has worked for them or any better ideas please please let me know as I want to do what is best.

1. Flush wound with diluted iodine
2. Rinse with clean warm water
3. Dry with sanitary gauze pads
4.Then, I place him in a pre-sanitized plastic box with clean paper towel while I take everything out of his tank - 2 water dishes, and 2 hides. I have kept what is in his tank to a minimum so cleaning and keeping the tank sanitary will be easier. I clean and sanitize entire tank and items with F10 solution, once completely dried I use clean paper towel as substrate so I can easily see if there is a urate or poop that needs to be removed immediately.

One last thing I would like to mention, his behavior has been completely normal since he got the wound in the first place and since it got worse. He sheds perfectly, eats very well and is always showing interest in food, he is curious and happy and his regular self.

P.S picture# 1 is when I found it, shortly after I took that picture, he shed and it looked more open showing white like the other pictures but smaller, this is what it looked like when I took him to the vet.

My questions now are:

1. Does this wound look like it may need sutures or stitches to heal? Or will it eventually heal without? I asked the vet and they said it might not but I don't have another reptile vet anywhere near my area to cross confirm with.

2. Does anyone know what could have caused this wound? Does the theory about fragile skin seem to be likely to you?

3. Should I be doing anything else as far as wound care?

4. Any advice or thoughts on this would be helpful. If this has happened to your snake or if you have had a similar experience please share your story. This is my first snake and I do not know anyone else personally that has one. I have been so worried about this wound that isn't going away despite everything I have done to try to heal it. It hasn't gotten infected or anything which is good, it is just not closing up. Please share your advice and thoughts I will really appreciate it! Thank you if you took the time to read all of this.
Attached Images
File Type: png 1st appearance of Khal's wound, July 5th.PNG (583.3 KB, 61 views)
File Type: png 2 Khals wound after larger prey, Dec. 9th.PNG (448.6 KB, 58 views)
File Type: png 3 Khal's wound, most recent.PNG (422.5 KB, 57 views)
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Old 01-02-19, 05:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

Wow! With the wound on his back that just about rules out a UTH/thermostat issue. How high is your humidity? Ask your vet about using burn ointment on the wound, silver sulfadiazine. I used it for a snake that escaped and was burned on the dryer vent and I personally used it for a severe road rash after a high speed bike accident years ago. It works wonders and promotes good healing. Did the vet prescribe any antibiotic or anti-inflammatory shots? I would expect it as my vet did for my one snake.
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Old 01-02-19, 08:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

Is there any chance that it was injured from a live prey item which then got infected? Just checking since you did not mention if you fed live or FT prey items.
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Old 01-04-19, 04:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

I only feed frozen thawed so that is ruled out
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Old 01-04-19, 05:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

sutures or not, you may want to have that muscle tissue biopsied/cultured for bacteria and fungi...

unlcear in animals (herps), but often times in humans skin integrity can be compromised or delayed healing by nutritional factors. the pic from july looks like the skin is sloughing?

you def need a vet.
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Old 01-05-19, 10:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

I took him to the vet earlier but no culture was done. They said it didnít look like it needed it but now where it got worse I think you are right. His wound as of today is actually looking really great. It is closing up and looks good but I will still take him for a test in case he needs shots as well. Thank you for the advice
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Old 01-05-19, 10:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

UPDATE: his wound is closing and is healing really well with the routine I’ve been doing!! I will also be taking him to be tested for bacteria to make sure but things are looking really good
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Old 01-07-19, 05:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

That's great! I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 01-07-19, 10:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Please Help! Mysterious wound on Ball Python's back

Quote:
Originally Posted by LivingDeadGirl View Post
UPDATE: his wound is closing and is healing really well with the routine Iíve been doing!! I will also be taking him to be tested for bacteria to make sure but things are looking really good
good news! i hope all heals well
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