- dull scale coloration
- opaque blue eyes
- loss of appetite
- defensive behavior
- wrinkled skin (looks alarmingly like severe dehydration)
- shedding skin to accommodate growth or weight gain/loss
Like other reptiles, ball pythons shed their skin regularly as they grow. A healthy ball python should shed its skin in one piece once every 4-6 weeks or so. As they prepare to shed, the scales will loosen, and you may notice its eyes turn blue and opaque.
Provide a large water bowl for soaking and if you do not already have a moist hide prepared, fill the warm hide with moist sphagnum moss. This will facilitate a successful shed (skin coming off in one piece). The snake should not be handled until after shedding is complete, and you should not attempt to remove the shed yourself.
If your ball python is having trouble shedding, do not try to soak it!! This is extremely stressful for ball pythons and many snakes have drowned because of well-intentioned owners who try to remove stuck shed via soaking.
Instead, create a homemade humidity chamber. This can be constructed with a Tupperware and a warm, wet hand towel placed inside. If possible, place the Tupperware on top of a heating pad (regulated by a thermostat) set to 85 degrees. Once the chamber is warm enough, place the snake inside, then cover the Tupperware with a cloth to make it dark — this will help reduce stress for the snake. Keep the snake in the chamber for no more than 1 hour, then return it to its enclosure. The remainder of the shed should come off within 24 hours. If not, repeat the treatment.