Cryptosporiosis is caused by an internal parasite that can infect many different species of animals. It is caused by a protozoal, or one celled, parasite called Cryptosporidium. There are several species of Cryptosporidium, but the most commonly encountered in reptiles is C. serpentis. Cryptospordiosis is an important disease in reptiles due to its tendency to be highly contagious and high mortality rate.
Reptiles are often referred to being “cold-blooded”, which can be misleading. More appropriately they should be considered poikilothermic or ectothermic. This means that, unlike mammals and birds, reptiles are unable to regulate their body temperatures internally and change their body temperature in adaptation to their environmental temperature. Because reptiles do not need to expend as much energy heating their bodies, they have a much lower metabolic rate than that of mammals. Each reptile species has what is referred to as its preferred optimal temperature zone which is a narrow temperature range at which they are active and undergo typical functions such as feeding, digestion, fighting off infections, and reproduction. Outside of this range these functions may be hindered or cease altogether. Some species will hibernate during colder months and during this time their metabolic rate will decrease.
Here is a brief list of some common health problems seen in pet snakes:
Ball pythons are modestly sized snakes that range from 30-45" in length and rarely reach five feet or slightly longer. They originate from west and central Africa with most of the wild-collected animals exported from Ghana, Togo, and Benin.
Most of the ball pythons sold in pet stores are wild-collected. Babies are often exported from "ranches" where adult females are collected, kept in captivity until they lay eggs, and then the babies that hatch are exported to other countries. These "ranched" babies are often much cheaper to buy than ball pythons that were captive-bred and born in the United States and may be more difficult to get feeding. Wild-collected ball pythons are more likely to have parasites than true captive-bred and born ball pythons.
There are now many different color morphs of ball pythons. Some of them, such as panda pieds and scaleless, may sell for thousands of dollars.
Pets may be sent home with liquid medications. An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective. An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful. Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective. It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.
All exotic pets, even ones that appear to be outwardly healthy, have the potential to carry and spread contagious diseases that can impact the health of people. This sort of disease is called a "zoonosis", "zoonotic disease", or "zoonotic infection".