Snake Diseases Diarrhea
Diarrhea is the occurrence of loose, watery, and usually foulsmelling stools. The causes of diarrhea in snakes are similar to causes of vomiting—infection, stress, or feeding irregularity, to name a few. In many cases, both signs (diarrhea and vomiting) occur when a snake is unhealthy. As with vomiting (and indeed with most other medical problems in snakes), the first part of the treatment for diarrhea is to correct the environment. One should especially try increasing the heat in the cage first. Diarrhea will sometimes respond to increased environmental temperature alone. If the problem persists, you must seek medical treatment. Repeated fecal exams or a gastric wash may reveal protozoan, fungal, or metazoan parasites, and a fecal culture and sensitivity test may reveal primary or secondary bacterial invaders causing the loose stools. Once the nature of the guilty organism is determined, it may be eliminated with an appropriate parasiticide, antifungal agent, or antibiotic. A veterinarian may also replace fluid losses and provide supportive care. However, do not delay medical treatment too long or it may become a very serious, if not fatal, problem. Frye (1991) advises the use of Kaopectate at a dose directly related to the weight of the snake. We have successfully used a dose of 1 milliliter per kilogram of body weight on small snakes. Only one dose was needed in our particular situation, but you may wish to administer it once daily for two or three days. If diarrhea persists longer than that, stop and seek veterinary attention. Do not handle the snake except as is necessary to treat the animal until after the diarrhea stops. (See also the section on dehydration in chapter 7.)
Remember that loose, foul-smelling stools may be normal for any snake being fed a diet primarily of fish or amphibians. Less odorous and firmer stools may form immediately after switching the snake's diet to scented mice.