Why is My Snake Wheezing? – Finding the Cause of Your Snake’s Unusual Breathing Pattern

» Health » Why is My Snake Wheezing? – Finding the Cause of Your Snake’s Unusual Breathing Pattern

Do you hear a strange sound coming from your pet snake? Are you worried about why your snake is wheezing? Snakes don’t typically make a wheezing sound, so it’s important to get to the bottom of it. In this article, we’ll explore the possible causes of why your snake is wheezing and what you can do to help. We’ll also look at the signs to watch out for and the solutions you can try to help your snake feel better. Read on to learn more about why your snake is wheezing and what you can do about it.

Types of Snakes

Types Of Snakes

  • Pythons
  • Boa Constrictors
  • Cobras
  • Garter Snakes
  • Rattlesnakes
  • Corn Snakes
  • King Snakes
  • Milk Snakes

Snakes come in many shapes, sizes and colors, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Snakes can be found in fields, jungles, deserts, forests, swamps, and suburban areas. Although most snakes are non-venomous, some species, such as cobras, rattlesnakes and coral snakes, can be highly venomous. Venomous snakes should always be handled with care and respect.

Common Reasons Why a Snake Might Wheeze

Common Reasons Why A Snake Might Wheeze

Snakes can wheeze for a variety of reasons, ranging from a respiratory infection to environmental factors. Common causes of wheezing in snakes include:

1. Respiratory Infection: A respiratory infection may cause wheezing in snakes, which is often accompanied by other symptoms such as excessive mucus production, mouth gaping and loss of appetite. If a snake is wheezing, it should be taken to a veterinarian for a diagnosis of the underlying cause.

2. Environmental Stress: Snakes may wheeze when they are exposed to extreme temperatures, cold drafts, or inadequate humidity. If a snake is wheezing, its enclosure should be checked for any environmental factors that may be contributing to the problem.

3. Injuries: Injuries to the head or neck may cause a snake to wheeze due to swelling or blockage of the airway. If a snake is wheezing due to an injury, it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for treatment.

4. Tumors: Tumors in the head or neck region may cause a snake to wheeze due to an obstruction in the airway. If a snake is wheezing due to a tumor, it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for treatment.

While there are many possible causes of wheezing in snakes, it is important to take any snake that is wheezing to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory Infection

If your snake is wheezing, it is likely suffering from a respiratory infection. Respiratory infections are caused by a variety of fungi, bacteria, and viruses and are the most common disease in captive snakes. Signs of respiratory infection include wheezing, open-mouth breathing, bubbles around the nose and mouth, and swollen discharge from the nose and mouth.

Signs of Respiratory Infection Description
Wheezing Noisy breathing
Open-mouth breathing Excessive breathing with mouth open
Bubbles around the nose and mouth Excessive mucus production
Swollen discharge from the nose and mouth Clear, white or yellow fluid

If your snake is exhibiting any of the above signs, it is important to take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed, while in others, the infection may need to be treated with supportive care. The vet may also advise changing the heat and humidity in the enclosure, as well as providing a humid hide for the snake.

Inadequate Humidity Levels

Inadequate Humidity Levels

Snakes, like other reptiles, require a certain level of humidity in their enclosure to stay healthy. Humidity helps the snake to shed its skin properly and keep its respiratory system in proper working order. If the humidity is too low, it can lead to difficulty in shedding, dehydration, and respiratory distress. Respiratory distress can manifest as wheezing, which is an indication of inadequate humidity levels.

Humidity Level Species
50-60% Ball Pythons
60-70% Carpet Pythons, Corn Snakes
70-80% Boas, Kingsnakes

Humidity levels should be monitored regularly to ensure that they are within the proper range for the species of snake. Humidity levels can be monitored with a hygrometer, which is a device that measures humidity. The following table shows the approximate humidity levels required for various species of snakes.

Injury to the Respiratory System

Injury To The Respiratory System

Injury to the respiratory system can cause a snake to wheeze, as can other respiratory problems. Injury to the respiratory system can occur when the snake is exposed to a foreign body, such as dust or smoke particles, or if the snake is exposed to a sudden temperature change.

Other signs of respiratory injury can include excessive mucous secretion, difficulty in breathing, and difficulty in swallowing. In some cases, the snake may have difficulty in opening its mouth, as well as swelling in the area of the respiratory tract.

Signs of Injury Symptoms
Excessive mucous secretion Wheezing, difficulty in breathing, difficulty in swallowing
Swelling in the area of the respiratory tract Difficulty in opening its mouth

If your snake is wheezing and has difficulty breathing, it is important to take your snake to the vet immediately for a proper diagnosis and treatment.



Parasites can be an underlying cause of wheezing in snakes. Common parasites are pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, flukes and some protozoans. These parasites may cause respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, open-mouthed breathing, nasal discharge, and sneezing.

Diagnosis of parasites is based on physical examination, microscopic examination of fecal samples, and radiographs. Treatment of parasitic infections can involve drugs, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary. Medications used to treat parasites may include antibiotics, dewormers, antiparasitics, and antifungals.

Parasite Treatment
Pinworms Antiparasitics
Roundworms Dewormers
Tapeworms Antiparasitics
Flukes Antifungals
Protozoans Antibiotics

Diagnosing a Wheezing Snake

Diagnosing A Wheezing Snake

Wheezing in snakes is often caused by a respiratory infection, which can be caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria, or fungi. In order to properly diagnose a wheezing snake, a veterinarian should be consulted. The veterinarian will take a detailed history and perform a physical examination. A series of tests may be recommended, such as X-rays, a complete blood count, and a fecal exam. Depending on the results of these tests, a course of treatment can be prescribed. Additionally, the environment the snake is living in may need to be assessed, as this can contribute to respiratory health. In order to prevent a respiratory infection, it is important to ensure that the snake is kept in an environment with appropriate temperature and humidity levels.

Visual Inspection

Visual Inspection

Wheezing in snakes can be caused by various factors, so it is important to visually inspect the snake for any signs of physical injury, respiratory infection, or other health concerns. Look at the snake’s eyes, mouth, and throat for any signs of redness or swelling, which could indicate infection. Check the nostrils for any discharge, which could be a sign of a respiratory infection. Inspect the whole body of the snake for any wounds, cuts, or scratches, which could be a sign of injury or infection. Also, look for any signs of dehydration, such as dry skin or sunken eyes. Lastly, check the snake’s scales to make sure they are not raised, which could be a sign of parasites. If any of these signs are present, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Physical Exam

Physical Exam

  • Inspect the snake for any external injuries or parasites.
  • Check for any nasal discharge.
  • Listen for any abnormal breathing or crackles in the lungs.
  • Examine the mouth for any signs of infection.
  • Observe the eyes for signs of respiratory infection.
  • Check for any swelling in the body.
  • Look for any signs of dehydration.

Lab Tests

Lab Tests
Lab tests are essential to determining the cause of a snake’s wheezing. Tests can include a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis. A complete blood count (CBC) can measure the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It can also measure the types of white blood cells, which can be helpful in diagnosing an infection. A biochemistry profile can measure the levels of electrolytes and other substances in the blood. It can also provide information about the health of the snake’s organs, such as the liver and kidneys. A urinalysis can provide information about the presence of bacteria or other substances in the urine. All of these tests can help to identify the underlying cause of the wheezing and provide treatment options.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

Type of Treatment Description
Antibiotics Prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection in the airway.
Humidifier/Nebulizer Therapy Use of a humidifier to moisten the air and a nebulizer to deliver medication.
Oxygen Therapy Administration of supplemental oxygen to improve oxygenation.
Surgery Surgical procedures to remove tumors and foreign bodies blocking the airway.



If your snake is wheezing, it could be a sign of a bacterial infection. In this case, your vet may recommend antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics help to kill the bacteria that is causing the infection, and should be taken for the full course of treatment prescribed. If your snake is not improving after taking the antibiotics, contact your vet to adjust the treatment.



Snakes need proper humidity levels in their environment for respiratory health. Too low humidity can cause wheezing and respiratory infections. The ideal humidity levels for most snakes are between 40-60%. Keeping these levels consistent is important for the health and well-being of your snake.

Humidity Range Result
Below 40% Wheezing and infection
40-60% Healthy environment
Above 60% Skin issues, respiratory infections

Supportive Care

Supportive Care

  • Keep the environment warm and humid.
  • Provide a safe, secure hiding place and shelter.
  • Keep the enclosure clean and free of debris.
  • Provide a nutritious diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Provide plenty of fresh, clean water.
  • Ensure that the snake has access to an appropriate substrate.
  • Monitor the humidity and temperature of the enclosure.
  • Provide regular veterinary care.

Prevention of Wheezing

Prevention Of Wheezing

  • Keep the snake’s environment clean and hygienic.
  • Avoid overcrowding the enclosure.
  • Ensure proper temperature and humidity level in the enclosure.
  • Provide your snake with an exercise wheel or running space.
  • Avoid overfeeding your snake.
  • Treat your snake for respiratory infection at the earliest.
  • Consult a vet if the wheezing persists.

Proper Housing

Proper Housing

Habitat Description
Size The size of the enclosure should be proportional to the size of the snake. It should be as large as possible while still allowing the snake to feel secure.
Substrate The substrate should provide a safe and comfortable environment. Some popular substrates include aspen bedding, newspaper, or reptile carpet.
Temperature The enclosure should be heated with a heat lamp or heating pad to a temperature of 80-90°F and should have a cooler side of around 70-75°F.
Humidity The enclosure should have a humidity level of 50-60%. This can be achieved by misting the enclosure or using a humidifier.
Hide Box The enclosure should have a hide box or shelter for the snake to feel secure and hide away.

Appropriate Diet

Appropriate Diet
A snake’s diet should consist of a variety of prey items, including mice, rats, and other small mammals. A lack of prey items in a diet can cause malnutrition, which can lead to wheezing. Make sure your snake is getting the appropriate diet, in the right quantities, to ensure its health and well-being. A veterinarian can help you determine what types of prey items are best for your particular species of snake and provide advice on the best feeding schedule.



Vaccine Description
Rabies A vaccine given yearly to protect against rabies
Snake Mite A vaccine used to protect against snake mite infestations
Respiratory A vaccine used to protect against common respiratory viruses

Vaccines can be an important part of preventing diseases in snakes. Vaccines against rabies, snakemites, and respiratory viruses are commonly used. Vaccines are typically administered via injection, and should be repeated annually. It is important to discuss vaccination with a qualified veterinarian before administering any vaccines to a snake.


Condition Potential Complication
Respiratory Infection Pneumonia, decreased appetite, lethargy, dehydration, and difficulty breathing
Foreign Body Obstruction Lethargy, decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, and dehydration
Trauma Difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, lethargy, and dehydration
Parasites Lethargy, decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, and dehydration
Tumors Difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, lethargy, and dehydration

Wheezing can be a symptom of a variety of underlying conditions, each of which can present with additional complications. The most common conditions causing wheezing in snakes are respiratory infection, foreign body obstruction, trauma, parasites, and tumors. These conditions can lead to further complications such as pneumonia, decreased appetite, lethargy, dehydration, and difficulty breathing. It is important to seek veterinary help if wheezing is noticed in order to prevent possible complications.


  • Wheezing in snakes is caused by respiratory problems.
  • Respiratory problems can be caused by improper environmental conditions, malnourishment, or infections.
  • To diagnose the cause of wheezing, a vet should be consulted.
  • Treatment depends on the underlying cause, which may include providing a more suitable environment, providing adequate nutrition, or antibiotics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Common Causes of Wheezing in Snakes?

Wheezing in snakes is most commonly caused by respiratory infections, including pneumonia, caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Other causes of wheezing in snakes can include foreign bodies obstructing the airway, allergic reactions, and acid-base disturbances. In some cases, the cause of the wheezing is unknown. Whatever the cause, it is important to seek veterinary advice if your snake is wheezing.

What are some potential solutions for Wheezing in Snakes?

The first step to treating a wheezing snake is to identify the cause. Potential causes of wheezing in snakes can include airway obstruction, respiratory infections, and stress. Once the cause is identified, appropriate treatment can begin. Treatment options may include antibiotics for a respiratory infection, humidifying the snake’s environment, and reducing stress. In some cases, more intensive treatment such as surgery may be needed. Consulting with a veterinarian is recommended for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

How can I know if my snake is wheezing?

Wheezing in snakes is usually caused by an underlying respiratory infection, so listen carefully for any unusual sounds from your pet. A wheezing snake will make a rattling, whistling or other unusual sound when breathing. This sound is usually accompanied by other respiratory symptoms, such as an open-mouthed breathing pattern, a discharge from the nose or mouth and a swollen face or head. A vet should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

Could something else be causing my snake to make weird noises?

Other potential causes of wheezing and other strange noises in snakes include respiratory infections, digestive issues, and physical trauma. If your snake has any of these symptoms, it is important to visit a veterinarian to ensure the proper treatment. In addition, it is important to ensure that your snake’s habitat is properly temperature-controlled and that it is getting enough water and food.

Are there any signs to look out for when my snake is wheezing?

Look out for labored breathing, open-mouthed breathing, difficulty in swallowing, rattling breaths, and unusual hissing noises. Wheezing can also be accompanied by other signs of respiratory distress, such as mucus or bubbles around the nose and mouth, lethargy, loss of appetite, and swollen eyes or neck. If you notice any of these signs, take your snake to a veterinarian for an examination.


Wheezing in snakes is a symptom of an underlying health issue. It can be caused by environmental issues such as humidity or temperature fluctuations, or physical issues such as an infection or a respiratory illness. If your snake is wheezing, it is important to take them to the vet for a check up and to identify the cause of the wheezing. Once the cause is identified, it can be treated with the proper medical intervention. Additionally, taking steps to provide your snake with the ideal environment can help to prevent the onset of any respiratory illness.

Leave a Comment