Why Is My Ball Python Wheezing? (When Breathing)

Anyone who has even the slightest of knowledge on ball pythons knows that they are very prone to all sorts of diseases. So, when someone finds their ball python making a weird wheezing noise then it can become quite concerning. Now, if that’s you then you might be asking – “Why is my ball python wheezing when breathing?” 

If your ball python is wheezing while breathing, then it must be due to one of the three main reasons. These are- respiratory infection, incomplete shedding, and parasitic infestation. 

In this article, I will provide you with proper information regarding the wheezing of ball pythons as there’s still a lot more to learn. I will vividly discuss the above-mentioned three reasons and provide you with the causes behind their occurrence and ways of treating them. 

why is my ball python wheezing

Why Is My Ball Python Wheezing? 

As mentioned earlier, there can be several reasons behind your ball python wheezing while breathing. But the three most common reasons that can cause these kinds of breathing are- respiratory infection, parasites, shedding.

Respiratory Infection

While researching the main reasons behind a ball python’s wheezing, the first reasoning that comes under consideration is a respiratory infection. If your ball python has a respiratory infection, the first thing it will affect is the nose, lungs, and throat. This means the whole respiratory system will be affected. The most common symptoms of respiratory infection are-

  • Ball python’s nose may be blocked due to mucus that can get runny as well. 
  • A blocked nose may cause your ball python to breathe heavily as it slows down its breathing.
  • There may be mucus running down from your ball python’s mouth.
  • Laziness may be seen due to having a lack of energy.
  • Your ball python may decline to eat or may eat less than usual.

These are the signs to look out for if you suspect that respiratory infection is what your ball python is suffering from. If it is indeed the case, you’ll also notice that he is breathing through his mouth more frequently than he usually does. This infection may be fungal, viral, or bacterial and can cause serious damage to your ball python’s health if not treated accordingly. 

Cause:

You probably already know how important it is to maintain the accurate temperature in a ball python’s tank. As they are cold-blooded, in order to maintain their body temperature, they need a lot of heat in their tank. If it is not provided, your ball python may face respiratory infection because ball pythons lose their power of fighting off bacteria without getting proper heat. 

respiratory infection ball python symptoms

So, to avoid this, it is important to make sure that the basking temperature is maintained and kept at 31 to 34 degrees Celsius. The ambient temperature should also be maintained at 25 to 27 degrees Celsius to maintain your ball python’s body temperature. 

Another reason that plays an important role in causing respiratory infection is poor living conditions. If the substrate that you have provided your ball python with is damp or dirty, there’s a high risk of it accumulating bacteria, and this can also cause respiratory infection. This is even worse cause this living condition also causes parasites, mouth rot, scale rot, and skin conditions. 

So, the two things that need to be taken care of in order to avoid respiratory infection are:

  • Proper temperature is being maintained in the ball python’s enclosure.
  • The living condition of the ball python is up to mark. 
  • The enclosure has hide on each side.

Treatment:

If your ball python shows any signs of respiratory infection, the first thing you should do is take him to a reptile vet immediately because it is essential to provide your ball python with prescribed antibiotics during this time. 

As different categories of virus and bacteria can cause respiratory infection, not all antibiotics will work, so following the vet’s prescribed ones is vital as He will be able to identify the category of the virus or bacteria that has caused the problem by taking a sample and analyzing it. And thus, the vet will provide you with the appropriate antibiotic.

If you have a juvenile ball python, then it is a must to identify the bacteria or virus as soon as possible because otherwise, there will be extreme consequences.

Now that you have adequately treated your ball python, the second thing to do is make sure this situation doesn’t repeat itself. And to do so, make sure your ball python is getting proper care, and his other requirements regarding temperature and living condition are being maintained and monitored. 

Incomplete Shedding 

Another reason that may cause your ball python to wheeze is incomplete shedding. Before and during shedding it is very common for a ball python to make wheezing noise while breathing. 

So, in this case there is no pathological cause or treatment. Just wait for you ball python to fully shed and the wheezing should go away on its own. 

But if the ball python continues to wheeze even after shedding or faces difficulty while shading then you can try soaking your ball python in lukewarm water to help it shed. If the situation still doesn’t get better then consulting a vet may be necessary. 

Parasitic Infestation

Parasite infestation is another reason that may cause your ball python to wheeze. Because there are some parasites that tend to live in the lungs of ball pythons as well as in breathing passages. As a result, ball pythons face breathing problems, which cause wheezing.

The most popular parasites that are seen in ball pythons are trematodes, protozoans, and nematodes. Also, ball python lungs are commonly inhabited by Rhabdias, which is a parasite worm, whereas the respiratory tract is inhabited by Pentastomids, which is another kind of parasite. So, several kinds of parasites can cause this wheezing. 

It is crucial to know the symptoms of a parasitic infestation so that your ball python can be treated immediately and accordingly. The symptoms of this infestation include-

  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling in the stomach 

The first three are the main symptoms of a parasitic infestation. And swelling in the stomach may occur if your ball python vomits its undigested prey. But this is not considered to be very common when they have parasites. 

Therefore, if you notice your ball python showing the above-mentioned symptoms make sure to take him to a vet as soon as possible because keeping the python untreated is not a smart decision. 

Causes:

There are several reasons behind your ball python getting a parasitic infestation. But the reasons that are considered to be most common are stress, housing your ball python with others, and inadequate husbandry. Another reason is feeding your ball python with an infected feeder, though it is not a commonly occurred case. 

So, to avoid parasitic infestations, it is important to take care of your ball python according to their needs and requirement.

Also, make sure that you do not house more than one ball python per enclosure, as this may cause stress and make it hard to control the spread of the parasites. As it can spread from one ball python to another by using the same water bowl or being exposed to each other’s poop. 

You can also prevent this infestation by making sure you are feeding your ball python only thawed or frozen feeders. Because this will kill any parasite living in the feeder, but if you plan on feeding your ball python live feeders, then make sure they are healthy and devoid of any parasites. 

Treatment:

Through a widespread occurrence, a parasitic infestation can result in serious problems and even death if your ball python is not treated timely. The best thing to do is to take your ball python to a vet because a vet-prescribed treatment is always safe, healthy, and assuring.

How to Deal with Respiratory Infections

As there are several types of parasites, it is important to make sure the parasite that has infested your ball python is identified to get proper treatment. To identify the specific kind of parasite, all the vet would need is a sample of the ball python’s stool. From there, he will be able to prescribe the right treatment.

The most common treatments regarding parasitic infestations include, antibiotics and antiprotozoals. Besides this, you will also need to clean your ball python’s enclosure carefully, starting from his substrate to his water bowl. This will ensure that your ball python won’t get parasites again. 

Conclusion

In this article, “Why is my ball python wheezing?”, I have focused my discussion on the main three reasons that cause ball pythons to wheeze. I have talked about the reasons distinctly and also given you the necessary information that will help you treat your ball python.

I hope this article was of help to you and wish you the best of luck in providing your ball python with proper care and well-being.

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