What is IBD in Snakes? A Guide to Identifying and Treating Infectious Snake Diseases

» Care » What is IBD in Snakes? A Guide to Identifying and Treating Infectious Snake Diseases

If you are a snake owner or enthusiast, you may have heard of IBD in snakes and wonder what it is. IBD stands for Inclusion Body Disease and is a viral infection that affects snakes, particularly boas and pythons. It is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can have a devastating effect on your snake’s health. In this article, we will take a look at what IBD is in snakes, how it is transmitted, and the necessary information you need to know.

What is IBD?

What Is Ibd?
IBD (Inclusion Body Disease) is a fatal neurological condition affecting captive boid snakes, such as boas and pythons. It is characterized by the presence of spheroid bodies in the nerve cells, and is associated with tremors, paralysis, and eventually death. The cause is unknown, but is believed to be caused by an infectious agent, possibly a virus. There is no known cure or effective treatment, and it is believed to be spread from snake to snake through contact.

Transmission of IBD

Transmission Of Ibd

  • IBD is spread through direct contact between snakes.
  • It can also be spread through indirect contact, such as bedding or water sources contaminated with the virus.
  • The virus is also able to survive for long periods of time outside of a host.
  • This makes it possible for IBD to be spread between collections, even when there is no direct contact between the snakes.
  • IBD can also be spread when infected snakes are sold or traded to other collections.

Symptoms of IBD in Snakes

Symptoms Of Ibd In Snakes
IBD (Inclusion Body Disease) is a fatal neurological disease in snakes that affects the central nervous system. It is caused by a virus, and is highly contagious. The most common symptom of IBD in snakes is anorexia, with snakes refusing to eat for extended periods of time. Other symptoms include lethargy, head-weaving, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation. In advanced stages, snakes may show difficulty moving, ataxia, and paralysis. Seizures and tremors may also occur. As the disease progresses, the snake may become unable to control its body and become comatose. Death follows soon after.

Diagnosis of IBD in Snakes

Diagnosis Of Ibd In Snakes

  • Examination of clinical signs and symptoms
  • Gross and histological examination of the affected organs
  • Blood tests to measure antibody levels
  • Radiography and ultrasound to assess organ size and possible tumors
  • Endoscopy to evaluate the digestive tract to look for tumors, ulcerations, and other abnormalities
  • Culture and sensitivity tests to identify potential bacterial causes
  • PCR testing to detect the presence of virus particles

Treatment of IBD in Snakes

Treatment Of Ibd In Snakes

  • Identify underlying cause(s) of IBD and address it/them.
  • Administer antibiotics, anti-fungals, pro-biotics, and/or other medications as prescribed.
  • Provide a balanced diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
  • Increase the snake’s hydration and humidity levels.
  • Provide a warm environment with a consistent temperature.
  • Clean the enclosure regularly to prevent the spread of infectious agents.
  • Monitor the snake closely for signs of improvement or deterioration.
  • Seek veterinary care for the snake if the condition does not improve with home treatment.

Prevention of IBD in Snakes

  • Provide good nutrition, including a variety of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect the enclosure, including all furnishings.
  • Practice proper hygiene when handling snakes and avoid contact with infected animals.
  • Ensure that the snake’s enclosure is well-ventilated, dry, and free of drafts.
  • Regularly monitor the snake’s health and seek veterinary care immediately if any symptoms of IBD are observed.
  • Keep the snake’s stress level low by avoiding handling and loud noises.
  • Maintain the snake’s environment at optimal temperature and humidity levels.
  • Provide a good source of UVB light to promote healthy metabolism.
  • Ensure that the snake has access to clean water and is hydrated.

Impact of IBD on Snakes

IBD, or Inclusion Body Disease, is a contagious viral infection that affects snakes. It is caused by the inclusion body disease virus (IBDV), which is closely related to the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles in humans. IBDV can be transmitted through contact with infected snakes, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of IBD include weight loss, anorexia, lethargy, mouth rot, and other neurological symptoms such as stiffness, twitching, and paralysis. Left untreated, IBD can cause death in snakes.

Aside from the physical symptoms of IBD, the disease can have a significant impact on the overall health of a snake. IBD can cause internal organ damage, including damage to the liver and kidneys. This can lead to a decrease in the snake’s lifespan and can cause further complications such as anemia and metabolic disorders. Additionally, IBD can affect the snake’s ability to digest food, resulting in malnutrition and poor growth. Severe cases of IBD can cause paralysis, making the snake unable to move and eventually leading to death.

IBD can also have a psychological impact on snakes. The stress of living with an undiagnosed or untreated illness can lead to depression and anxiety in snakes, as well as an overall decrease in quality of life. Additionally, the physical symptoms of IBD can cause fear and discomfort, which can further increase the snake’s stress levels.

Given the serious nature of IBD, it is important for snake owners to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease. Early detection is key in order to prevent the spread of the virus and to ensure that the snake receives the necessary treatment. With prompt and proper medical care, IBD can be managed and treated, allowing snakes to live a longer and healthier life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of IBD in snakes?

IBD in snakes can cause a variety of symptoms, including weight loss, regurgitation, lethargy, anorexia, and difficulty shedding. Other symptoms may include bloating and the presence of mucus in the stool, as well as a decreased appetite. In more severe cases, snakes may also experience neurological symptoms such as seizures, incoordination, and paralysis.

How is IBD in snakes diagnosed?

IBD in snakes can be diagnosed by first looking at the snake’s physical condition such as weight loss, skin lesions, and other signs of illness. Blood tests, fecal tests, and biopsies can also be performed to detect infection. In addition, a full physical exam should be done to look for any signs of intestinal damage. If IBD is suspected, imaging tests such as x-rays or ultrasounds may be performed to further diagnose the condition. Treatment for IBD in snakes is based on the cause and severity of the infection and often involves antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and supportive care.

How is IBD in snakes treated?

IBD in snakes is typically treated with antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals. Additionally, symptomatic treatments such as fluid therapy, vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory medications may be used. In more serious cases, surgery may be required to remove affected tissue. In cases of secondary infection, antibiotics may be used to treat the bacterial infection.

Is there a way to prevent IBD in snakes?

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent IBD in snakes. Vaccines are available for IBD, and they are highly recommended for snakes that are kept in captivity. Vaccinated snakes are more likely to remain healthy than unvaccinated snakes, and the risk of IBD can be significantly reduced. In addition, good husbandry practices, such as proper nutrition, sanitation, and parasite control, can also help to reduce the risk of IBD in snakes.

Are there any long-term effects of IBD in snakes?

IBD can cause long-term damage to a snake’s gastrointestinal health, leading to malnutrition and dehydration, as well as poor growth and development. In some cases, the virus can cause permanent organ damage that cannot be reversed, or even death. It is important to seek veterinary care for your snake if you suspect it has IBD, as the condition can be managed with proper treatment.


IBD in snakes is a serious and contagious disease that can be fatal if not properly treated. As a snake owner, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of IBD and to take your snake to the vet if you suspect that they may have contracted it. It is also important to practice good husbandry and to feed your snake a balanced diet to help prevent the disease. With proper care, IBD can usually be managed and treated.

Leave a Comment