Snake Sneezing

Once upon a time, there was a peculiar thing that could happen to snakes. Sometimes, they would make a funny sound called a sneeze! Just like when you get a tickle in your nose and let out a big “Achoo!”, snakes can have sneezing fits too. But what’s even more interesting is that snakes don’t sneeze for the same reasons we do. In this article, we’ll explore why snakes sneeze and what happens when they do. Get ready to uncover the mystery of snake sneezing!

Snake Sneezing

What is Snake Sneezing?

Snake sneezing refers to the act of forcefully expelling air and discharge from the nasal passages. It is a natural reflex that helps snakes clear their respiratory system. Just like humans sneeze to remove irritants from their noses, snakes sneeze for similar reasons. However, snake sneezing can also be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Causes of Snake Sneezing

Several factors can cause snake sneezing, including:

  • Respiratory infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can lead to sneezing in snakes.
  • Allergic reactions: Snakes can have allergic reactions to certain substances, such as pollen or dust particles, which can trigger sneezing.
  • Irritants and environmental factors: Exposure to irritants like strong chemicals, smoke, or poor air quality can cause sneezing in snakes.
  • Foreign objects or blockages: If a snake inhales or ingests a foreign object or has a blockage in its nasal passages, it may sneeze to try and dislodge the object.
  • Nasal mites: Infestation of nasal mites can irritate the snake’s respiratory system, leading to sneezing.
  • Cancer or tumors: In rare cases, tumors or cancer in the nasal cavity can cause sneezing in snakes.
  • Other possible causes: Some snakes may sneeze due to stress, temperature fluctuations, or certain medications.

Symptoms of Snake Sneezing

When a snake sneezes, there are several accompanying symptoms to look out for, such as:

  • Audible sneezing sounds: You may hear your snake make sneezing noises or wheezing sounds.
  • Nasal discharge: Sneezing is often accompanied by the expulsion of mucus or discharge from the snake’s nostrils.
  • Difficulty breathing: Snakes experiencing sneezing episodes may exhibit signs of labored breathing or appear to struggle when trying to breathe.
  • Open-mouth breathing: In severe cases, snakes may resort to open-mouth breathing to compensate for respiratory distress.
  • Lethargy or weakness: Sneezing can cause discomfort and fatigue, leading to lethargy or weakness in snakes.
  • Loss of appetite: Sick snakes may lose interest in eating and exhibit a decreased appetite.
  • Dehydration: Illness can lead to dehydration if the snake is not properly hydrating itself.
  • Weight loss: Prolonged sneezing episodes and associated symptoms may result in weight loss in snakes.

Potential Risks and Complications

Snake sneezing can lead to several risks and complications, including:

  • Spread of infections: If the cause of sneezing is a respiratory infection, there is a risk of the infection spreading to other snakes in the same habitat.
  • Respiratory failure: In severe cases, prolonged sneezing accompanied by respiratory distress can lead to respiratory failure.
  • Secondary infections: Sneezing weakens the snake’s immune system, making them more susceptible to secondary bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Decreased immunity: Chronic sneezing can compromise the snake’s immune system, making it more susceptible to other illnesses or diseases.
  • Chronic respiratory problems: If left untreated, recurring sneezing episodes can lead to chronic respiratory issues in snakes, affecting their overall health and well-being.

Diagnosing Snake Sneezing

To diagnose the cause of snake sneezing, a veterinarian will typically perform the following:

  • Physical examination: The vet will assess the snake’s overall health and look for any visible abnormalities.
  • Diagnostic tests: These may include blood tests, swabs, or samples to detect infections or other underlying health issues.
  • X-rays or Radiography: Imaging tests can help identify any foreign objects, blockages, or tumors in the snake’s nasal passages.
  • Endoscopy: This procedure involves inserting a small camera into the snake’s nasal cavity to get a closer look at any potential causes of sneezing.
  • Cultures and Samples: The veterinarian may collect samples from the snake’s nasal discharge or mucus for further analysis to determine the exact cause of sneezing.

Treatment Options for Snake Sneezing

The treatment for snake sneezing will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Possible treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection is causing sneezing, the vet may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.
  • Antihistamines: In cases where allergies are the suspected cause, antihistamines may be recommended to reduce sneezing and alleviate symptoms.
  • Nasal irrigation: Flushing the snake’s nasal passages with a saline solution or veterinary-recommended nasal rinse can help remove irritants and promote healing.
  • Surgery or interventional procedures: In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove foreign objects, tumors, or blockages causing the sneezing.
  • Supportive care: Providing a clean and comfortable environment, along with proper hydration and nutrition, can help the snake recover and strengthen its immune system.

Preventing Snake Sneezing

While some cases of sneezing may be difficult to prevent, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk:

  • Routine veterinary visits: Regular check-ups with a reptile veterinarian can help identify any underlying health issues early on and prevent complications.
  • Maintaining optimal environmental conditions: Ensure that the snake’s habitat is clean, has proper ventilation, and maintains appropriate humidity and temperature levels.
  • Proper hygiene practices: Regularly clean and disinfect the snake’s enclosure to minimize the presence of potential irritants or pathogens.
  • Quarantine and isolation: When bringing new snakes into your collection, it’s crucial to quarantine them for a period to prevent the spread of infections or mites.
  • Minimizing stress: Stress weakens the immune system, so providing a calm and stress-free environment for your snake can help prevent sneezing and associated health issues.

How Snake Sneezing Differs from Human Sneezing

Snake sneezing differs from human sneezing in a few ways:

  • Physiological differences: Snakes have a unique respiratory system, and their sneezing may involve forceful expulsion of air and discharge from their nostrils. Humans, on the other hand, typically sneeze to expel irritants or clear the nasal passages without the expulsion of discharge.
  • Causes and triggers: The causes of sneezing in snakes are different from those in humans. While allergies and infections can cause sneezing in both, snakes may also sneeze due to environmental factors, foreign objects, or mites.

Snake Sneezing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can snake sneezing be contagious to humans? A: No, snake sneezing is not contagious to humans. It is typically caused by factors specific to snakes’ respiratory systems and does not pose a risk to human health.

Q: Should I be concerned if my snake sneezes occasionally? A: Occasional sneezing may not be a cause for immediate concern. However, if the sneezing becomes frequent or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s best to consult a reptile veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Q: Can snake sneezing be prevented entirely? A: While some causes of snake sneezing may be preventable, such as minimizing stress and maintaining a clean environment, certain factors, like infections or allergy triggers, may be harder to prevent entirely.

Q: Can overhandling a snake cause sneezing? A: Excessive handling can stress a snake, potentially weakening its immune system and making it more prone to respiratory issues. It’s important to handle snakes with care and minimize stress to reduce the risk of sneezing.


Snake sneezing is a natural reflex that helps clear the respiratory system in snakes. However, it can also indicate underlying health issues that need attention. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and potential risks, as well as seeking proper diagnosis and treatment from a veterinarian, you can help ensure the well-being of your snake. Additionally, implementing preventive measures and maintaining optimal environmental conditions can minimize the occurrence of sneezing and promote a healthy and happy snake.

Snake Sneezing