Quarantining New Snakes

03/30/2013 by

Quarantining new snakes should be done no matter what, but is most important if you are bringing a new snake into a pre-existing collection of reptiles. Quarantining new snakes ensures that they do not keep or transmit any possible diseases they could be carrying. Here is a list of things you need to know about quarantining:


  1. Captive-bred and captive-raised snakes should be kept in quarantine for a minimum of thirty days. Wild snakes should be quarantined for no less than sixty.
  2.  The tank used for quarantining new snakes should be set up in a rather specific manner. Paper should be used as the substrate (unless it’s a burrowing snake species), and the snake should have access to a shelter, water dish and perching areas of the snake is not solely a ground-dweller.
  3. While the snake is being quarantined, examine them for possible mites. Occasionally offer food to the snake and observe their droppings when available—they should be semi or fully formed and dark with whitish urates. If this is not the case, a qualified veterinarian should check the snake for parasites.
  4. Make sure to also observe the snake for any other unusual behavior, such as mouth swelling, trouble breathing and neurological problems.
  5. While in quarantine snakes should be treated with an ivermectin spray that can be found at the local pet store. This will help to remove any tick or mite infestations.
  6. After the quarantine period is over and the snake is moved from their rather bare quarantine environment to a more stimulating permanent one, they will usually take about a week to adjust. Do not be overly-alarmed if they immediately seek shelter, go into a hyper frenzy, or calmly observe their new environment, but do be prepared to do some “landscape surgery” that may be required as a result of the snakes exploration.


There are a few species of snakes that require more extensive quarantining than others—boa constrictors and viperids. 


Boa constrictors, even after quarantining, should be housed individually because of their higher risk for inclusion body disease (IBD), which is similar to AIDS in humans. Quarantining will not reveal the presence of IBD—only a liver biopsy will, which is why they should be housed separately from all other snakes—even other boas—to make sure the disease is not transmitted, should they carry it. They can live for several years without showing any sign of the disease.


Viperids usually fall into the category of imported or wild-caught snakes. They have been known to carry serious respiratory infections and for that reason should be quarantined in other rooms or buildings than other snakes, not just a separate cage.