Are you a new ball python owner that has noticed your ball python rubbing its face or has your pet python suddenly started this new behavior? There are a number of reasons why your ball python may be rubbing its face, some are completely harmless, while others can be serious diseases which need urgent veterinary treatment.
Exploring New Things In the Enclosure
When your ball python explores its enclosure, it will use its nose and face to feel and explore new things. It's not uncommon for these snakes to do face rub when they feel a little stressed. Once it becomes used to the new item in the enclosure, it should stop face rubbing.
Ball pythons are exceptionally bright and your pet will get to know you and enjoy coming out and exploring outside their enclosures with their owners. It's not uncommon for these snakes to get to know their owners and use their face or nose to rub on the owner’s hand or face in order to get some needed attention.
Remove Something After Eating
If you have recently fed your ball python and it starts rubbing its face, it's possible that it has taken in some substrate that it is trying to get rid of out of its mouth. Remember your ball python doesn't have arms or legs to help it get things out of its mouth that are unfamiliar, such as substrate, rubbing their face is the only way they can eradicate the foreign object.
Ball pythons are susceptible to mites, which are tiny insects, black in color and they suck the blood of your pet. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to fighting mites. Ensure you wash your hands before and after handling your python. Always disinfect accessories before adding them to the enclosure.
Signs your ball python may have mites includes:
- Rubbing its face
- Lack of appetite
- Prolonged soaking
- Black dots on eyes, ears, shredded skin and on your hands after handling
- Ash dust on scales
There are numerous causes of mites from poor hygiene to contamination from another python to catching your python from the wild. Ensure you keep the enclosure clean, disinfect regularly, quarantine new pets before introducing them to their enclosures to reduce the risk of spreading mites across your pythons if you have more than one.
Respiratory infections are common in captive ball pythons often causing loss of appetite, lethargy, bubbling saliva, face rubbing, whistling noises when breathing. It is essential to treat respiratory infections as quickly as possible and correct anything that may be causing the infection, such as incorrect temperatures and humidity and poor hygiene in the enclosure. Use a digital thermometer and hygrometer to accurately monitor your temperature and humidity levels, keeping them at optimum for your pet to reduce the risk of respiratory infection.
If your ball python is in the process of shedding, rubbing its face on accessories and around the enclosure, could be a result of a shed that has stuck. You can leave your pet alone that let it get the shed off on its own with an increased humidity or you can consider adding a humid hide to help your python.
A humid hide can be placed on the warm side of the enclosure, filled with damp sphagnum moss. Another common option that ball python owners use is they make a warm bath and allow their pet to soak for thirty minutes, ensure you keep the water at a stable warm temperature.
Keep checking your pet to ensure that the shed is starting to come loose. This process may need to be repeated a few times a day until the shed starts to peel away on its own. Never rub the skin aggressively to remove a shed, as you can injure your pet.
Stuck Eye Caps
One of the reasons your ball python may be rubbing its face is that it has stuck eye caps, which are usually caused by poor husbandry and dehydration, mites, or bacterial infection in one or both of the eyes. It is best to consult your vet if you notice your pet is suffering from stuck eye caps. If your pet has retained eye caps, you will notice that the eye looks sunken or grainy in appearance. Do not try and remove if you are not confident, as your pet could lose its vision if this is not done correctly.
The good news is that face rubbing isn't something unusual with ball pythons. Ensure that your pet isn't showing any signs of illness, mites, or stuck shed. The face rubbing could simply be your pet exploring new things in its habitat or wanting some love and attention from you.