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  1. #1
    Registered User ReptileRant's Avatar
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    Ball Python Cause of Death

    I am a small hobby breeder and have been doing this for about 3 years. I had a clutch hatch out perfectly healthy about 2 months ago. I ended up going to vend at a small expo in my area. I had one baby who had only eaten 4 meals, but was about 85g and eating very well. I ended up bringing him along because I figured it wouldnít be the end of the world that he was short one meal. I sold him to someone who had owned other ball pythons and already had a snake rack set up. Anyway, 2 1/2 weeks later then end up messaging me saying that he had mysteriously died. I of course donít know if I can trust them, but they said that their hotspot was at 85į, he was on paper town, and had a small water dish. They said he did not show any signs of distress, had not been fed, had pooped, and didnít show any signs of an RI. Does anybody have any idea what could have happened? This is the only pic they had of him post death.


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  2. #2
    Registered User ReptileRant's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Cause of Death

    I should also mention that all his clutch mates are doing fine and are very healthy.


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  3. #3
    Registered User Malum Argenteum's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Cause of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by ReptileRant View Post
    I of course donít know if I can trust them
    No, you really can't. It could have actually mysteriously died. But it could have been dropped, or taken outside in the cold, or been subject to any sort of neglect or abuse.

    The only way to possibly know would be to have the snake necropsied. It might be (or might have been) interesting to offer to pay for the necropsy (either on their end, or send the snake back to you and you line up the necropsy) and see what the buyer says.

    Are more photos available? Did the buyer save the body, or snap one photo and discard the snake? I ask because if they discarded the snake before getting to the bottom of things, then that's a red flag that there is some withholding of information going on.

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  5. #4
    Registered User ReptileRant's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Cause of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Malum Argenteum View Post
    No, you really can't. It could have actually mysteriously died. But it could have been dropped, or taken outside in the cold, or been subject to any sort of neglect or abuse.

    The only way to possibly know would be to have the snake necropsied. It might be (or might have been) interesting to offer to pay for the necropsy (either on their end, or send the snake back to you and you line up the necropsy) and see what the buyer says.

    Are more photos available? Did the buyer save the body, or snap one photo and discard the snake? I ask because if they discarded the snake before getting to the bottom of things, then that's a red flag that there is some withholding of information going on.
    Unfortunately they discarded of the body, but that was my fault. Their message was sent to spam, so I didnít see the text until several days after they had sent it.


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  6. #5
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    So sorry to hear, but these things do just happen now & then- "failure to thrive" can mean some internal abnormality- something essential (like the heart) that's not working quite right - & possibly a failure brought on by the stress of all the changes; actually the same thing can happen in human babies ("SIDS") etc. Unfortunately you can't really rule out an owner-caused issue either.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  8. #6
    Registered User YungRasputin's Avatar
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    2 weeks is a long time and tbh, given my experiences in the arachnid game - *everyone* is going to claim they had ďideal conditionsĒ even if they obviously didnít because they donít want to be held responsible or accountable - the fact that he was on paper towels and not actual substrate would suggest to me subpar keeping ngl - i would be most suspicious, particularly since all of the other clutch mates are thriving
    het for nothing but groovy

  9. #7
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Cause of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by YungRasputin View Post
    2 weeks is a long time and tbh, given my experiences in the arachnid game - *everyone* is going to claim they had “ideal conditions” even if they obviously didn’t because they don’t want to be held responsible or accountable - the fact that he was on paper towels and not actual substrate would suggest to me subpar keeping ngl - i would be most suspicious, particularly since all of the other clutch mates are thriving
    I would disagree- paper towels are the substrate of choice with a new snake that might have mites, at least until you're sure they don't. Also, white paper towels show other serious issues too, like a mucoid or bloody smear from the cloaca, or diarrhea.

    This one was the smallest of the clutch-mates too- making it a bit more likely that something else didn't develop quite as well as the others.

    Ideally though, a necropsy "might" have given an answer, & someone wanting a refund or exchange should NOT have discarded the body before checking with the breeder, IMO. That they did adds room for some doubt as to their handling or "ideal conditions".

    Failure to thrive has been known to happen after not just a few weeks but even months. It all depends what the issue was.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 11-18-2022 at 05:49 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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  11. #8
    Registered User Malum Argenteum's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Cause of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by ReptileRant View Post
    Unfortunately they discarded of the body, but that was my fault. Their message was sent to spam, so I didnít see the text until several days after they had sent it.


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    Bummer, but a completely understandable situation. Impossible to ever know what happened, then.

    Looking at that photo again: is there a rodent in the cup? Was the snake being fed in the cup when it died? Does that cup have air holes in it (I can't see any)? That's a really questionable photo when a person is trying to show that some problem has occurred. Does the snake even look dead? Why isn't it photographed lying out flat and upside down as proof? I'm quite skeptical.

    I had a buyer once claim that the hognose I sold him died after a week. I replied asking for details and a photo of the snake, and told him to save the body in case we need a necropsy. I got no reply even after sending a followup email the next day. One can only presume that the snake wasn't actually dead, or there was evidence that the death was the buyer's fault.

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  13. #9
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Cause of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Malum Argenteum View Post
    Bummer, but a completely understandable situation. Impossible to ever know what happened, then.

    Looking at that photo again: is there a rodent in the cup? Was the snake being fed in the cup when it died? Does that cup have air holes in it (I can't see any)? That's a really questionable photo when a person is trying to show that some problem has occurred. Does the snake even look dead? Why isn't it photographed lying out flat and upside down as proof? I'm quite skeptical.

    I had a buyer once claim that the hognose I sold him died after a week. I replied asking for details and a photo of the snake, and told him to save the body in case we need a necropsy. I got no reply even after sending a followup email the next day. One can only presume that the snake wasn't actually dead, or there was evidence that the death was the buyer's fault.
    I was wondering the same things about that photo- It does appear to be feeding time, & it doesn't really look dead to me either- certainly that photo offers no proof. And if there's no air holes & they left it in there overnight (or hours), I think we have the "cause of death".
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 11-18-2022 at 06:18 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  15. #10
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    I was actually just about to post about that as well. earlier when I was on my phone I couldn't see it clear enough.
    The things I notice are:
    1: The plastic bag. Why photograph the snake in there?
    2: The rodent. Again, why? Did they just leave this snake in a deli cup with the rodent thinking it would eat? "Had not been fed" looks like a lie when there's a rodent in that photo. it was at least attempted.
    3: no airholes. Unless they were in the lid... but also in a plastic bag? Still concerned about breathing
    4: The only ACTUAL sign of something wrong... there is some discoloration along the belly of the snake that looks more green. This WOULD be signs of either severe necrosis or the body breaking down after death. Otherwise the snake seems posed like it's trying to get out...which makes me wonder if the green I'm seeing is actually just a lighting issue.

    Either way, I'm sorry that this happened to you! Loosing one that you raised so soon after changing hands can hurt.
    There is a little bit of fault on you for not catching the spam, but considering the amount of election spam ~I~ had been getting.... that's understandable.
    From there.... unless you stated at the time of purchase, the average health guarantee for reptiles is typically VERY short. You're usually lucky to see anything past 24 hours. Some will give you 72 hours. Anything after that is pretty rare, I know one breeder who gave me a 30 day which shocked me. That said, some breeders will still listen to you on an issue past the guarantee and try to make things right.

    But this is a super difficult case here.
    Again, the missed message didn't help... but the photo they sent is not definitive in any way. Once I had the unfortunate DOA leopard gecko show up at my door. I had at least 4 different photos to send to the breeder as proof of death. Thankfully they responded quickly and I didn't have to freeze the little one. Without the extra proof, I don't know how far you would want to go.
    Depending on how they paid can also be an issue as well. Cash? it's all in your decision. Credit? They may try a chargeback. Paypal business? Possible chargeback. Paypal F&F or Venmo will not allow chargebacks.
    If there's a threat of chargeback, you may have to compromise on something like a partial refund. But honestly they did the bare minimum in contacting you/proof of death, so if this was my own animal I would be hesitant to do anything like a full refund or replacement.
    Last edited by Armiyana; 11-19-2022 at 02:51 AM.

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