Ball python with unusual tongue behavior...


Dear VPI

Question: My friend's ball python has taken to hanging his tongue out the side of his mouth. It happens when his mouth is open slightly and we have seen him hang the tongue out of both sides. We were curious as to what this meant. 

The snake is 6 years old and he is captive bred. Yesterday we saw him do this four times. He did it in the morning (at like 7am) and about 3 times in the evening for about 15 or 10 minutes in duration. He was fed this morning and has not done it since.  Is this a sign of hunger?  Thanks for any info you can give!  We haven't been able to find anything about this!  Nicole


Dear Nicole,

Healthy snakes almost never rest with their mouth open, and in my life I have never seen a snake dangle his tongue out of the side of his mouth. Their sharp teeth will stick in their own tongue as easily as in a mouse.

I would have said there is a good chance that he has a respiratory illness, but then you went on to say he just ate, and sick snakes are usually off their feed. I suppose it is possible that he has somehow damaged or injured his tongue.

So I have to tell you that I'm stumped--I've never seen such behavior.

Can you get a picture of him doing it?  DGB