by Freight Freitas
The following is a list of diseases and health related issues that we have encountered with Gonyosoma snakes over the past three years.
Upper respiratory infection: Generally presents symptoms of nasal discharge, open mouth breathing, excessive mucous in the oral cavity, closed/clogged nostrils, possible weazing or raspiness heard from the lungs while breathing. Treatment with Baytril antibiotic, warm soaks , temperatures at or above 80F 24hrs/day. If symptoms persist elevation of Baytril dosing is recommended, as well as the addition of amaikacin antibiotic.
Paramyxovirus: One of my Sulawesi janseni females presented initial symptoms of general lethargy, thick, dark green discharge and amber bile crystals in the urate, and small dime sized gelatinous spheres released with defecation that appeared to be bacteria walled off as cysts. In the final stages there was a total loss of anterior motor function from the heart to the head. Oddly, the jaws were still able to open and close, and the eyes were totally functional, despite the fact that the rest of the anterior region was totally flaccid. The snake died approximately 12 hours after motor function loss. Treatment with antibiotics, as well as Acyclovir antiviral produced no positive results.
Pseudomonas skin infection: This condition initially presented numerous red, volcano shaped skin eruptions that literally burned holes through the scales. The condition was fully eliminated with Baytilin two male Sulawesi janseni, but proved extremely resistent in one green oxycephala. Baytril initially seemed promising with this snake, but shortly after treatment was terminated the symptoms reappeared. Amikacin, Pipricillin, and a number of other antibiotics were added, but none produced a lasting effect. In the later stages of the disease the outbreak reappeared as smaller rash-like bumps that spread across much of the body. The snake then developed a severe upper respiratory infection, which eventually led to his demise.
Unidentified blood parasite: One of my Sulawesi janseni females initially showed signs of a skin infection from soaking in her water bowl, which was treated with antibiotics and eliminated on more than one occasion. She eventually began a cycle of repetitive shedding, which became disturbing after a number of months passed with no change. Her shed cycles lasted approximately three weeks, after which she would consume one meal, and a week later begin another shed cycle. Microscopy of a blood smear showed elongate parasites living within numerous red blood cells. Experimental treatment with the malaria drug Malarone has produced very positive results with a single weekly dosing, as after six weeks of treatment most of the parasites were gone. The repetitive shed cycle eventually diminished, and she is now shiny, healthy, eating well, and shedding normally. Treatment has continued with one dosing at each feeding to ensure complete elimination of the parasite, and there have been no visible side effects whatsoever.
Skin infection: On several occasions I have seen wild caught Gonyos develop an orange, gooey skin infection from defecating in their water bowls while soaking. Treatment with Baytril antibiotic, along with changing to water bowls too small to soak in, has cleared the symptoms. I suggest keeping individuals with a tendency to skin infection with very small water bowls, and using moist sphagnum humidity boxes that will still allow the snakes access to moisture without creating a recurrence symptoms.
Yeast infection: During the course of the winter of 2005-2006 my male Sulawesi janseni all stopped eating. Shortly after I began to see signs of skin problems on two of the males. One male began to show signs of curling and rippling of the caudal scales, while the other had what looked like water stains on his face, and later the caudal scale symptoms. The scale symptoms spread rapidly in the first male, and eventually eroded the outer keratin layer completely off the scales. All these males showed a decline in health, advancement of their skin symptoms, and eventually died despite an attempt to treat them with anti-fungal medications.