When it comes to feeding your pets, snakes are the most forgiving. Usually, a full-grown snake will eat once a week. But if you keep throwing food at it, the snake will gladly accept it.
So, overfeeding or underfeeding them is pretty easy. Also, unhealthy weight can be a clear sign of underlying diseases. So, knowing how to spot whether your snake is healthy or not is a requirement for every snake owner.
So, how to tell if your snake is overweight or underweight? All snakes show some common symptoms which can allow you to find the answer to that question. In this article, I’m going going to talk about those symptoms in detail.
Symptoms of An Underweight Snake
An underweight snake will show the following symptoms –
1. Visible spine:
For underweight snakes, the spine will be clearly visible. The snake’s body will be triangular in shape. For normal snakes, the spine will be barely visible and the body will be almost rounded.
2. Visible ribs:
Check the sides of your snake. If you see any ribs showing up then your snake is definitely underweight.
3. Stretchy skin:
If you gently pull on the skin of a skinny snake then it will stretch out. This won’t be the case for a healthy snake. For healthy snakes, the skin will tightly wrap around the body.
4. Concave belly:
In extreme cases, the skin on the belly will go inwards and form a concavity. This is a clear indication of severe emaciation.
5. Flappy skin:
Another indication for severely emaciated snakes is flappy and folded skin. The skin on the sides will become loose and fold up due to the loss of fat and muscle.
Stretchy skin can also be an indication of dehydration. This is accompanied by dry skin, flaky skin, sunken eyes, and constipation.
Symptoms of An Overweight Snake
An overweight snake will have the following symptoms –
1. Scale spread:
The scales of an overweight snake will be further apart and the skin underneath will be visible. For most healthy snakes, the scales will stay close no matter what your snake’s position is and the skin will stay hidden.
2. Raised back:
The areas on both sides of the spine will rise up. You will see a cleavage along the spine.
3. Fat rolls:
When your snake coils around your arm you will be able to see some fat rolls on its body.
4. Squishy body:
Generally, healthy snakes feel toned and muscular when held. But fat snakes will feel squishy and soft. Kind of like an overstuffed sausage.
5. Corn snake hips: (Only Corn snakes)
This is a feature exclusive to fat corn snakes. Near the hip of the snake, there will be a huge bulge. This is called corn snake hips.
Pregnant snakes will usually appear bulky and show some signs of obesity like scale spread, squishy tummy, etc.
Naturally chunky snakes:
Some snakes are just naturally chunky. For example, the Western hognose snake. They show some scale spread when they coil and bend which is completely natural.
It is easy to identify whether your snake is healthy or not. If you see any of these symptoms then try measuring your snake’s weight. If the snake is above or below 10% of its natural body weight then you should get it checked by a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.