Regurgitation is when a snake expels food that has not yet reached the stomach. Vomiting is when the snake expels food that has already spent some time in the stomach and may be partially digested. This page addresses both.
Frequent regurgitating and/or vomiting is known as Regurgitation Syndrome, and is one of the most common causes of death in B. c. constrictor, as well as B. c. amarali and B. c. occidentalis.
- Snake expels partially digested prey orally, typically 3-5 days after feeding
- Primarily affects newborn boas
- Underdeveloped digestive tract (newborns only)
- Feeding too often
- Prey items are too big
- Incorrect temperatures or humidity
- Internal parasites
- Bacterial infection in gut
- Stress due to excessive handling, cohabitation, moving, etc.
- Handling within 48 hours after feeding
- Contaminated prey
- Other illness
Regurgitation is more serious for snakes than it is for humans. Whereas humans simply take a trip to the porcelain throne and usually feel better afterward, snakes usually feel worse. This is because when they regurgitate a partially-digested meal, they expel electrolytes, beneficial bacteria, and enzymes along with the food. When this happens repeatedly, as with Regurgitation Syndrome, it can be deadly.
Your first instinct may be to offer the boa more food, but remember how your mother always told you never to eat anything right after throwing up? It’s the same concept here. The first thing you need to do if your boa has regurgitated is let it rest. No handling, no touching, no pestering — just let it rest. But DO check on it to make sure that the symptoms don’t get rest. DO replace its water daily and perform other routine maintenance tasks.
If your boa seems to be getting sicker, make an appointment with an experienced reptile veterinarian because there may be something more serious going on.
If your boa seems to be doing okay after 1 week, administer a reptile probiotic gel/paste like Nutribac via syringe. This reintroduces beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.
If the boa is still doing alright after 2 weeks from the initial incident, try offering another meal. Offer something small — about half to a quarter the size of what you would usually give, and dusted with probiotic powder. If that stays down, wait another 2 weeks (or however long you usually wait between feedings) and offer a slightly larger item. Repeat until you’re back up to the usual prey size and schedule. If you’re not sure what is the right prey size for your boa, refer to the chart on this page.