Take care not to confuse a dehydrated boa for an underweight boa or vice versa (although the one pictured above is both). The easiest way to tell is that a dehydrated boa will be wrinkly, while an underweight boa will be relatively smooth but with an easily visible spine and a triangular body shape.
- Wrinkled and/or saggy skin
- Dented/cracked eye caps
- Skin stays in place if gently pinched (rather than snapping back)
- Trouble shedding
- Snake is not drinking enough water
- Low humidity
- Dirty water
- Water is otherwise not available
- Distilled water used for drinking
One of the most effective ways to rehydrate a dehydrated boa is to give it a warm electrolyte bath. If your boa is stressed by traditional bathing, you will have to make a few accommodations.
You will need an appropriately sized heat pad, thermostat, a bottle of electrolyte supplement (like unflavored Pedialyte), paper towels, and a plastic tub with a lid. Place the mat under the tub and set to 82-84°F (27-28°C) , then fill it 1″ (2 cm) deep with electrolyte solution (75% electrolytes, 25% water). Let the water warm up for about 15 minutes, then place the snake inside and close the lid. Leave the snake to soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
Wipe the electrolyte residue off your ball python with a warm damp cloth before returning to its enclosure. Repeat as necessary until no longer displaying symptoms.
If symptoms do not improve, make an appointment with a certified reptile veterinarian.