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Old 02-18-17, 07:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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King Snake skin problem help

I own a Mexican Black king snake. He's around 2 1/2 years old, and I've owned him since he was 4-months old. He's been healthy since I've owned him and he's never had any problems.
Snake: imgur.com/a/7QimK

However he has shown something on his skin recently I've never seen before. Any idea what this is? Do I need to take him to the vet?
Skin 1: imgur.com/a/1YLGP
Skin 2: imgur.com/a/P1Rvj

Here is his tank (lamp heat at day, heating pad under tank at night)
Warm side (80), cool side (70), humidity (30) (temps slightly lower at night)
Tank: imgur.com/a/4nhTH
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Old 02-19-17, 05:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

MBK is love and welcome to this forum

Looks to me like damage from tearing his body under something heavy but it's a bit hard to judge from pictures alone. Does he have missing scales on more places on his body or only there? Hows his general health and activity? Does he do anything different than before -f.e. always on the hot side while he normally changes between hot and cold, more lethargic, not striking his food as he used to, etc.

There are some bacterial infections (f.e. Salmonella ssp.) that can cause scales to drop, rot, etc, but generally look much more severe than your pictures. See when he sheds if it gets worse or better. If anything, it's best to visit a vet when you see something turn worse over time.

Also hot side can be 86-88 F, and cool around 78-79 F, with a night drop to the mid 70s. 30% RH seems a tad low on those temps you maintain, but shouldn't be too bad (I keep mine at around 30-40%, but at higher temps, and I have more humid places for him to go since I have a planted vivarium). At least this is my experience.

Last edited by TRD; 02-19-17 at 05:33 PM..
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Old 02-23-17, 08:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Thanks, I'll make sure his terrarium decorations are more secure, and I'm going to give his tank a thorough cleaning today. We'll see if he looks better after his next shed.

It's been getting warmer by me, so I've been opening the windows letting fresh air, and he's more active than ever now so maybe he was just getting too much stale air?
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Old 03-18-17, 03:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Good news! After a thorough terrarium cleaning, securing of decorations, and a shed, his skin looks healthy. Thanks for your help

imgur.com/a/09LW7
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Old 03-18-17, 05:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Beautiful MBK. I'm glad he's looking better after his shed. I agree with bumping those temps up a bit too. My kings were kept at 88-90.
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Old 03-28-17, 09:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Well I think I might have found the source of those marks. Today he began freaking out, squirming around a lot, and biting himself. He started only gumming but now has pierced skin with his fangs, maybe he did that to himself before and gave himself those marks?

I'm trying to figure out what's wrong.

I don't think he's stressing due to overheating, his tank isn't hot (83|79 day / 75|70 nigh). At the time of me noticing his tank is 75|70 and his humidity is at 35%.

I fed him 6 days ago (two small mice). I am trying to feed him more, to see if it's hunger. If so it's an easy fix, just feed him more often.

If it's not the hunger, then I'll have to take him to the vet. I've never noticed him ever doing this before (I've had him since he was 6 months old, he's 2 1/2 years old).

I'm so worried, he's hurting himself, and he's never done it before. I don't know what to do.
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Old 03-28-17, 09:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

I put up a background that covered the back and two-sides of his tank to try and give him privacy, I know snakes get stressed when they feel like they can't hide. At first I thought it was working, he was out more often than usual. But I just took it down in case that's what the problem is, I can't think of anything else I changed recently.
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Old 03-28-17, 10:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Mites? The squirming and biting. Do you have a large water dish for it to soak in?
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Old 03-29-17, 01:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Do you use any aerosol sprays in or near the same room as the snake is kept in?
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Old 03-29-17, 11:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scubadiver59 View Post
Mites? The squirming and biting. Do you have a large water dish for it to soak in?
I do (op has a pic of his terrarium), is there a way I can see if he has mites, or can only a vet determine that?

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Originally Posted by dannybgoode View Post
Do you use any aerosol sprays in or near the same room as the snake is kept in?
My wife uses hairspray in the bathroom with is next to the room he's kept in.

I fed him two small mice last night, he ate them right up and calmed down a bit, still was moving but stopped doing the weird squirming and stopped biting himself. He's sound asleep this morning. Perhaps he just was hungry, I'll feed him more per feeding now, and more often. I was feeding him two small mice every 7-9 days, so i'll bump it up to 4 small mice every 7 days, maybe even see if he is ready for the next mice size up.
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Old 03-29-17, 11:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

I would be concerned about the use of hairspray so close to his viv. I don't let me wife use them on the same floor of the house.

Reptiles can be very sensitive to such sprays and they can cause neurological damage which given your description this *could* be.

I am not for one minute saying it definitely is but I'd avoid such use and is the symptoms do not clear up then I think a vet visit is in order.
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Old 03-29-17, 12:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Kingsnakes are a bit wacky sometimes. Sounds like hunger.
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Old 03-29-17, 08:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Well he was doing good all day, but tonight he is squirming and biting himself again. I'll call the vet tomorrow. Wish I didn't have to wait 'till tomorrow to help him, hopefully he doesn't hurt himself too bad tonight.
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Old 04-09-17, 11:25 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Went to the vet. He examined him and ruled out everything except two possibilities.
  • He is hungry, and mistaking himself as food.
  • He has neurological damage.

We fed him bigger mice, he ate two, but left the third so we know he ate his fill. However the very next day he began hurting himself again, so we've ruled out hunger. So he must have neurological damage. According to vet source could have been from anything, no telling exactly what, but ruled out anything we have been doing around the house or in his terrarium. Could be as simple as him having fallen while he was climbing.

It's very sad, and to tell the truth I'm depressed about it. I love him, and to know there's nothing I can do, that he'll be biting himself the rest of life hurts. He's so young, only 3 years old, he'll have to deal with this the majority of his life.

Here is a video to show you what he does:


ANYONE FINDING THIS POST BY GOOGLE: I hope this post will help anyone in the future. The vet confirmed the marks in the OP of this thread came from him bending his scales by squirming and breaking them by biting. So if you see those marks, he's behaving in this matter and you should try to feed him more to see if he's just hungry.

I'll post some more pics of his skin later, to show you how he's torn himself up.

Only silver lining is that the vet says even though it looks bad, the wounds are very superficial, he's doing the equivalent of scratching their skin. It's not life-threatening.

Last edited by TheProgramer; 04-09-17 at 11:34 PM..
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Old 04-10-17, 12:18 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: King Snake skin problem help

Sorry to see and hear about this. Glad you took him to the vet for more definitive examination and diagnosis. His presentation in the video reminds me of my blue puget garter snake that has suffered a neurological injury due to a vitamin b1 deficiency. I brumated him for 3.5 months at 48F. Brought him back to normal temperatures recently and paired him up with the female. He was fine on day 1, day 2 he appeared very listless and weakened. When I touched him he had a visible head tilt and a very abnormal crawl where he was favoring his left side. Additionally, I observed him corkscrewing and crawling backwards. Immediately recognized it as vitamin b1 deficiency. Confirmed at exotic vet office. He is better after 3 injections of vitamin b1 but has been permanently brain injured from a nutritional deficiency. So, you are not alone dealing with a reptile with neuro issues. Good luck with him he's a handsome animal.
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