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  1. #1
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    How to differentiate hissing vs wheezing?

    I'm a first time BP owner, and my boy is about three years old. Sometimes, when I go to touch him, he will make a short sound out of his nose that kind of sounds like he's sucking in air. I know that sounds like this can be a sign of a URI, but I am also aware that BPs may hiss if they don't want to be handled at that moment. This is NOT a sound I hear him make every day, but I want to be absolutely sure that he is not sick. Again, this is a quick and short sound that he will make only after I touch him, it is not a sound that he makes unprovoked.
    His tank is always between 75-85 F and the humidity is at a constant 50-60%. After typing this out, I feel kind of silly for asking if he may be sick, but I just want to be sure so that if he is ill, I don't let it progress any further. I appreciate any responses! And just for the record, after he makes this sound I always leave him be- I care for him very much and don't want to stress him out.

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    Confusing, isn't it? When you touch him, & he makes this sound, that's probably just his stress response. Not exactly a hostile "hiss", but just "sucking in air" as you described. I wouldn't worry about that as long as you're not seeing bubbles around his mouth, or him open-mouth breathing, & as long as you're not hearing this all the time, when not provoked.

    An RI can cause wheezing sounds, but also crackling or whistling sounds with each (or with most) breaths, & that doesn't sound like it's the case here.

    Another possibility, besides hissing or an RI: he may also have some old shed skin stuck in his outer nostrils from he last shed cycle. Make sure you raise his humidity to about 75% during his next shed- the nostrils are easily plugged up when the humidity is too low, as those flimsy little bits of skin are easily left behind- and then, they make some noise when the snake takes a deeper breath. So that could also be what you're hearing, & snakes don't know how to "blow their nose" to fix it. Sometimes you'll even see a tiny tag of skin in their nostril- & if you're really careful, you might be able to catch & remove it with small tweezers, but humidify more first, so it lets go.

    Right now, I'd say this is just a "wait & see"- & probably not an RI. Good question & for asking.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: How to differentiate hissing vs wheezing?

    What a relief, I was a bit worried there. I'll keep an eye out for any other signs, and will definitely keep note to raise the humidity during his next shed. Thanks so much for the quick + informative response!



    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Confusing, isn't it? When you touch him, & he makes this sound, that's probably just his stress response. Not exactly a hostile "hiss", but just "sucking in air" as you described. I wouldn't worry about that as long as you're not seeing bubbles around his mouth, or him open-mouth breathing, & as long as you're not hearing this all the time, when not provoked.

    An RI can cause wheezing sounds, but also crackling or whistling sounds with each (or with most) breaths, & that doesn't sound like it's the case here.

    Another possibility, besides hissing or an RI: he may also have some old shed skin stuck in his outer nostrils from he last shed cycle. Make sure you raise his humidity to about 75% during his next shed- the nostrils are easily plugged up when the humidity is too low, as those flimsy little bits of skin are easily left behind- and then, they make some noise when the snake takes a deeper breath. So that could also be what you're hearing, & snakes don't know how to "blow their nose" to fix it. Sometimes you'll even see a tiny tag of skin in their nostril- & if you're really careful, you might be able to catch & remove it with small tweezers, but humidify more first, so it lets go.

    Right now, I'd say this is just a "wait & see"- & probably not an RI. Good question & for asking.

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    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Another thing you'll hear from snakes- especially larger & heavy-bodied ones, is a "forced exhale" which can sure sound like a hiss to the unaware.

    When I had a large BCI, one time I picked her up to meet & greet others visiting me (that also happened to be none-too-comfortable with snakes ) & when her 7'+ body sorta folded in the middle, it caused what they thought was a HISSSSSS. I was able to explain & reassure them though- she was an absolute sweetheart. You have to remember that a snake's lung is very long- at least a third of their body length, & picking them up often results in an audible "forced exhale". Also "not an RI".
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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