With the popularity of reptile keeping on the rise, particularly ball pythons and bearded dragons, we have seen a huge spike in the number of questions being asked from the reptile keeping community recently.
We have been trying to answer as many of them as possible over the last few months but after publishing our article going over if albino snakes are blind or not, we noticed a number of people asking about caring for a blind ball python.
Now, there have been a number of people thinking that their ball pythons are blind recently when in actual fact, they are just having issues with dehydration or shedding but more on that later.
The main focus of today’s article will be going over caring for a blind ball python to try and help as many of our readers as possible get a better idea of how they can keep their blind ball python as happy as possible and offer it a good quality of life.
Can Ball Pythons Be Blind?
Just like all other creatures with eyes, a ball python can be blind be it due to a genetic problem causing the snake to be blind from birth or an issue later in life causing blindness after the snake has been able to see.
The thing is, the vast majority of snake species, ball pythons included tend to have poor vision anyway with most snakes being short sighted and often not being able to struggle very well.
Although it is difficult to know for sure, it is thought that ball pythons can see better at night than they can during the day and that they can only focus in a way that humans can on something that is moving.
Due to this, even if your ball python is blind, it really doesn’t have that much of an effect on the quality of life of your ball python as most people think.
Although a ball python will use its sight when possible, they tend to use their temperature-sensitive pits in their jaw as well as their vomeronasal organ helping them smell their prey.
Are Ball Pythons Blind While Shedding?
We often see people think that their pet ball python is temporarily blind or having issues with their sight prior or during their shedding.
This is a very common misconception and it’s so common that we actually have a detailed article on it going over why your ball python has cloudy eyes during shed time.
Essentially, it is just a temporary change in your ball python’s body prior to or during a shed and it is totally normal and nothing to worry about.
Although it is controversial and solid arguments can be made on both sides of the argument, it is thought that most ball pythons will have restricted vision when their eyes turn blue during this time.
It is thought that this is one of the main reasons that many ball pythons will become more aggressive around the time of their shed while they have their blue eyes.
They may not be able to see you as well as they once could but they are still aware of you being close to them due to their vomeronasal organ and jaw pits detecting you.
Although your ball python is probably not fully blind during this period, we would guess that its eye sight can be diminished, especially if it has shredded skin around its eyes further obstructing the vision it has available to it.
Once the blue cloudy look had faded from your ball python’s eyes, it is usually thought that the snake’s eye sight will have returned to normal though.
How Do I Know If My Ball Python Is Blind?
There are a few ways that you can tell if your ball python is blind and the most common way to notice if your snake is blind is by noticing how it reacts to movement in its environment.
A ball python that can see will usually be able to detect movement from a potential predator or prey item and will react accordingly.
A blind ball python, on the other hand, may not react to movement as they are not able to see it.
This is usually the first and most noticeable sign that your snake may be blind.
Other signs that your ball python may be blind include:
- Hiding away more than usual and not coming out as much
- Not feeding as regularly as they once did
- Not responding to you as much as they used to
- Bumping into things more often
- Not being able to find their way out of their hiding spot or cage
Although this may sound strange, some ball pythons that can see perfectly find can sometimes seem as though they are blind due to the water ball pythons use their tongue to help them smell.
They may move their head left to right over and over again giving the impression that they are not able to see when they are just trying to small something instead.
If you notice any of these signs in your ball python, it is a good idea to take them to the vet for a checkup just in case.
What Can Make My Ball Python Go Blind?
There are a few things that can make your ball python go blind and the most common cause of blindness in ball pythons is actually due to vitamin A deficiency.
Vitamin A deficiency is actually quite common in captive reptiles as they are not able to get the same variety of vitamins and minerals that they would in the wild.
A lack of vitamin A can lead to a condition known as xerophthalmia which is the medical term for dry eyes.
If left untreated, xerophthalmia can result in temporary blindness and eventually lead to permanent blindness in your ball python.
Thankfully, there are plenty of reptile multivitamins available and all good pet stores usually stock a range of them for your to choose from that will be able to prevent this issue.
Other causes of blindness in ball pythons can include:-
- Injuries to the eye
Depending on the exact problem, injuries, infections, and parasites can often be treat to prevent permanent blindness from setting in on your ball python.
As with most things when it comes to pets though, you should usually be taking action as soon as you notice a potential issue as the sooner you act, the higher the chances of treating the issue will be.
This means that is your ball python is having issues with blindness due to something that can be treat, there is no time to waste and the longer you leave the issue, the more likely it is that it could potentially result in permanent blindness in your ball python, especially with infections.
If you are ever concerned about your ball python’s vision, the best thing to do is take them to the vet for a checkup.
A professional will be able to give you a definitive answer on whether or not your ball python is blind and can also provide you with advice on how to care for them if they are.
How Do I Care For A Blind Ball Python?
If you have a blind ball python, there are a few things that you will need to do in order to make sure that they are able to live a happy and healthy life.
The first thing that you will need to do is make sure that their enclosure is set up in a way that will make it easy for them to get around and find their food and water.
This means that you will need to remove any obstacles from their cage that could cause them to trip or fall and you should also make sure that their food and water dishes are placed in the same spot every day so they can easily find them.
You will also need to be extra careful when handling a blind ball python as they will not be able to see you coming and may get scared if you try to pick them up suddenly.
It is best to always let them know that you are there before you attempt to pick them up and you should always handle them with care.
Blind ball pythons can often live long and healthy lives if they are well taken care of and given the proper care that they need.
If you have any concerns about your ball python’s vision, the best thing to do is to take them to the vet for a checkup.
How Do I Get My Blind Ball Python To Eat?
If you have a blind ball python, there are a few things that you can do to help them find and eat their food.
One of the easiest things to do is to warm their food up prior to offering it to your ball python.
As we covered earlier in the article, your ball python has an excellent sense of small due to its larger vomeronasal organ while also having temperature-sensitive pits in its jaw.
Warming your ball pythons food slightly not only helps its temperature-sensitive pits detect the food but also causes to food to smell.
In many cases, this can be enough to help your ball python detect and eat its food with ease.
Avoid Live Food
We know that some people do like to live feed their ball python but this can be problematic with a blind ball python.
It is usually much easier to just use pinkies or fuzzies for your ball python than trying to live feed it as your snake may not be able to accurately strike if it is blind.
Not only can this cause your ball python to strike into the glass or a decoration of its vivarium but it may also cause the prey animal to be injured for no reason and have to be in pain while also scared.
How Do I Get My Blind Ball Python To Drink?
Although some snakes will get most of their water from their hydration due to not requiring much water, this is not correct for ball pythons and they can drink a surprisingly large amount of water per day.
Thankfully, most blind ball pythons will be able to find their water bowl with ease and then drink as required without you having to do anything to help them.
In some cases, you may find your ball python laying in its water bowl but this can actually be a normal behavior for ball pythons even if they are not blind and it is nothing to worry about.
We just wanted to point that out as we have seen a number of people who keep ball pythons worry that this may be a serious issue when in many cases, it is just a quirk of keeping a pet snake.
Can A Blind Ball Python Live A Happy Life?
Yes, a blind ball python can live a happy and healthy life provided that they are given the proper care that they need.
As we have covered in this article, there are a few things that you will need to do differently when caring for a blind ball python but as long as you take the time to do your research and provide them with the care that they need, you will find that they can live just as long and happy of a life as a sighted ball python.
We hope that this article has helped you to better understand how to care for a blind ball python and we wish you the best of luck with your new pet!