Regurgitation (Vomiting) in Snakes - Page 3

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Regurgitation (Vomiting) in Snakes

By: Dr. Nancy Anderson

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There are two types of throwing up. Regurgitation is the more common form and is the only form associated with husbandry problems. Regurgitation is more passive and occurs soon after a snake has attempted to or has swallowed a meal. Therefore, the food item has not had time to be thoroughly digested and can be recognized as a prey animal.

In regurgitation, mild waves of contraction can be seen moving backwards up the body of the snake. Vomiting usually occurs after the snake has partially digested its meal. Many times since the snake is bringing up intestinal contents from further back in the gastrointestinal tract, the snake seems to be more distressed by vomiting. The material produced by vomiting often looks like a stool with no urates (white chalky material seen with feces).


  • Although many parasite infections that cause vomiting in snakes are caused by nematodes -- the classic "worms" that most people think of -- there are two parasites that commonly cause vomiting in snakes that are single celled organisms. They are Entamoeba invadens and Cryptosporidium. Both of these parasites require special tests performed on feces or stomach washes for diagnosis.

    Amoebiasis frequently causes diarrhea in addition to vomiting. Classic Cryptosporidia infections are associated with gastric hyperplasia (swelling of the wall of the stomach). Although both organisms can be easily transmitted from snake to snakes through contact with feces, amoebiasis is frequently transmitted between different types of reptiles. Turtles commonly serve as carriers for Entamoeba invadens. Mixing turtles and snakes in the same enclosure if not recommended.

  • Vomiting can be associated with viral infections. Inclusion body disease of boids is associated with regurgitation especially in Burmese pythons. There are many other viruses that infrequently cause vomiting in snakes.

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