ByKristelon November 24, 2021
Since you have now grown accustomed to seeing your ball python’s color, you may be surprised by any discoloration or change of shade! One of the most common types of discoloration in ball pythons is a pink belly. In many cases, you will notice a change in the color of a ball python’s belly, but the reason behind the change may not always be the same.
In case you have a ball python with pink underbellies, it is crucial that you know the causes.
So, my ball python has a pink underbelly. What does it mean? One of the most common reasons behind this color change indicates that your snake is about to shed. It could also mean that your snake must have picked up a red dye from its substrate in the tank or is suffering from scale rot or burn…
Regardless of what the cause of this change is, it is important to track it down. We will help you do that through this article.
What Does it Mean When a Ball Python Has a Pink Belly?
When snakes are nearing their shedding time, that’s when they begin to change color. There is no one particular culprit behind a pink belly snake, but one of the most common reasons is that they are approaching their shedding time.
Ball Pythons on average shed their skin every four to six weeks, but older snakes may take much longer and shed just once or twice a year.
It is in your hands to do the math and calculate if that could be the reason behind your ball python’s pink belly.
If you have a baby ball python with a pink belly, then you should know they’re probably going to shed soon.
If your snake has recently shed new skin then you need to look for the reason behind your snake’s pink belly somewhere else.
The first sign that your ball python will show when it’s time for it to shed is that its stomach turns pink. From light pink to an intense shade of pink the shades can range. As ball pythons grow they shed and that is pretty normal. Snakes also shed when they gain or lose weight. When it comes to healthy snakes, they shed their skin every 4-6 weeks.
What are the signs that my ball python is about to shed?
If your snake’s pink belly is tagged along with any of these below-mentioned indicators then mostly the reason behind your snake’s pink belly is just that your ball python is about to shed. Pay close attention to any of these signs:
- Dull coloration
- Loss of appetite
- Dry and wrinkled skin
- Milky, blue, or opaque eyes
What are the steps you should take during the shedding process?
You should never try to remove your snake’s skin all by yourself, NEVER EVER!!! Avoid handling your snake as well during the process of shedding. When you notice that your snake is done shedding, make sure to check if your snake’s eyes have turned back to normal. Also, make sure you check that there is no extra skin left on the tip of your snake’s tail.
There are a few things that you can do to help your snake during its shedding process and they are as follows:
Increasing humidity in your snake tank is an easy way to help the shedding process. For this step, all you’ll need is a hand towel and a Tupperware container. Just wet the towel with some warm water and then make sure you place it well inside the container.
Provide an area to soak
When Ball pythons are shedding they enjoy a good soak. All you’ll need is a bowl that will fit your snake in it. But keep an eye on your snake, if you choose to do this step.
Create a moist hide
You should already allow your ball python to have hidden in the tank but making a moist hide will let your snake have a healthy shed. Make sure the hide is at the right humidity and temperature and that’s when you can add the moist sphagnum moss inside.
If you happen to use a substrate dye that is red in color then there are possibilities that the dye may rub off onto your snake’s skin and result in red or pink discoloration. If you are unsure if the dye from the substrate is the reason behind your Ball python’s pink belly then use a substrate without dye and see if the discoloration vanishes. In case, it does not go away then it is best to take your snake to the vet.
Scale rot happens to be a very common infection in ball pythons. Just the way burns and shedding cause red or pink discoloration in ball pythons the same way scale rot can too. Besides discoloration, other symptoms include:
- Raided scales
- Tiny blisters with yellow or maybe even clear fluid
- Brown, green, or yellow scales
What are the causes of scale rot?
Scale rot has four main causes. The first one is keeping your snake’s cage at an incorrect temperature. The temperature should be 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cooler side and about 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warmer side. There should be a basking area kept at 88-92 degrees Fahrenheit as well.
The second cause behind scale rot is keeping the humidity level too high in your snake’s tank. Anywhere from 55% to 70% should be enough.
The third cause is keeping the cage dirty. Dirty cages are open grounds for bacteria which come with loads of infections. Maintaining your snakes’ tank is a must. Deep cleaning should be done at least once a month.
The last cause is trauma. It’s very easy for bacteria to get in if your snake’s scales have already been damaged which will lead to major health issues.
How can you treat scale rot?
The first step you need to take is to remove all substrates from your snake tank and substitute them with paper towels. Soak the affected area next in a water solution with betadine for five minutes. You should continue soaking the area twice a day for at least a week or even two if the symptoms continue to show. Then, use the paper towels and dry your snake gently.
Use Neosporin ointment on the affected area after your Ball Python has soaked and dried off from betadine.
If it’s a bigger case, then your vet might just suggest a stronger ointment.
The heat source in your Ball Python tank may be the main cause of burns. Your snake can get burnt if it comes into direct contact with any type of heat sources like a lamp or even a ceramic heat emitter. Heat rocks, malfunctioning thermostats can also be the causes behind burns.
How to treat burns?
First, you need to make sure you identify the source of the burn and keep your Ball Python away from the source. Then, you need to make sure your thermostat is functioning well and see to it that it’s set to the right temperature. Make sure your snake does not come into direct contact with any heat sources.
Make a solution of water and povidone-iodine and soak your snake in it for half an hour every day until the burned wound has healed. After that use a topical antibiotic.
It is very important to give your Ball Python loads of freshwater to drink to recover well.
How to prevent your Ball Python from getting a pink belly again
You should make a note of every shed they’ve had. This will allow you to get a timeline of their shedding processes and if in case you notice a pink underbelly you know it will go away after the shedding period is over.
To avoid any tank problems that cause pink underbellies in your snake, you can use thermometers, hydrometers, UTH thermostats, paper towels and give your snakes hiding places in their tanks. Moist hiding places work much better.
Don’t worry about these instruments emptying your pockets, because most of them are easily available at decent rates.
A pink underbelly can mean anything ranging from your Ball python is about to shed to burns, dye substrates, or scale rot. Remember, that if your snake’s burn is a big one and if it sheds the burned tissue then you should take your ball python to the vet immediately.
When it comes to the shedding process, increasing the humidity as well as creating a moist hiding space for your snake is always a good idea. However, if you are unsure about certain things don’t waste your time and take your snake to the vet. It’s always important to react in time!
Kristel is a writer for Cat Judo and an avid fan of every cat she sees. In fact, outside work, you can find her at home playing with her five cats, all of whom are rescued from the streets. There’s no doubt that if she sees another one in a box somewhere, she’s going to adopt it.