I took custody of a rat snake a few weeks back - I got him off Craigslist. I can tell he has been badly neglected -- the vivarium was stinking. I don't think that it had been cleaned for months.

He is a beautiful, docile snake and I love him to bits. He seems to sneeze a lot and I thought it would pass but he's still doing it. The sneezing doesn't particularly worry me but what does concern me is that his upper lip protrudes over the lower lip, beneath the eyes. (His mouth does not close properly). If you look at his head from underneath, you can see the protrusion on either side where the upper lip fails to meet with the lower.

It looks like it could maybe be a swelling or perhaps he was just born that way.

Can anyone imagine what this might be?

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2 Answers 2


Definitely have a vet look at this.

Snakes normally don't sneeze, so that's red flag number one. That along with the mouth not closing properly sounds a lot like the snake might have troubles with their respiratory tract. You could compare this with a cold in humans, but snakes being cold-blooded, this is more serious. Possible causes could be that the snake was kept too cold or with the wrong humidity by its previous keeper.

This doesn't go over by itself (at least not in the way you want it to), so go to a vet.


Yep, that's classic 'mouth rot', and you need antibiotics to deal with it so, if you have a snake in this condition, off you go to the vet. The sneezing, as JAD said, is abnormal and indicates a respiratory infection, which also needs antibiotics.

  • "so off you go to the vet" doesn't make too much sense answering a 3 year old post.
    – P i
    Nov 17, 2021 at 6:12
  • Sure it does. YOU read that 3 year old post, didn't you? So did I. So will other people. And multiple people agreeing on the best approach is reassuring to most people.
    – DaveInAZ
    Nov 19, 2021 at 0:29
  • @Pi Stack Exchange Pets is meant to be a "library of detailed answers to every question about pets" (tour), much like wikipedia, just in a different format. Answers are meant to help everyone, including the original questioner but also people who have the same problem and find the question years later via searching the internet. So answering that you need to go to a vet on a 3 years old question is completely valid.
    – Elmy
    Nov 19, 2021 at 5:32
  • Sure, I was never contesting that advice to seek a vet be given. And I agree, multiple sources are reassuring & helpful. After all this isn't a code issue on Stack Overflow. Just ... the wording could be improved.
    – P i
    Nov 19, 2021 at 22:23

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