Snake Owners Beware: Inclusion Body Disease is on the Rise

What is Inclusion Body Disease?

Inclusion body disease (IBD) is a viral infection that affects snakes, particularly boas and pythons. It is caused by a virus known as the inclusion body disease virus (IBDV). The virus is highly contagious and can spread quickly among snakes in captivity. IBD can cause a variety of symptoms, including weight loss, lethargy, anorexia, regurgitation, and neurological signs such as head-tilt and circling. In severe cases, it can lead to death.

How Does IBD Spread?

IBD is spread through direct contact with an infected snake or through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. It can also be spread through the air if an infected snake sheds the virus into the environment. The virus can survive for up to two weeks on surfaces or objects that have been contaminated with it.

What Are the Risk Factors for IBD?

The risk of IBD increases when snakes are kept in overcrowded conditions or when they are exposed to stressors such as changes in temperature or humidity levels. Poor husbandry practices such as inadequate cleaning and disinfection of cages and equipment can also increase the risk of IBD.

How Can Snake Owners Prevent IBD?

The best way to prevent IBD is to practice good husbandry techniques and maintain proper hygiene in your snake’s enclosure. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls, toys, and other items that come into contact with your snake. It’s also important to avoid overcrowding your snake’s enclosure and to provide adequate ventilation. Additionally, you should quarantine any new snakes before introducing them into your collection to ensure they are not carrying any diseases or parasites that could be passed on to other snakes in your collection.

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What Are the Treatment Options for IBD?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBD at this time. Treatment typically involves supportive care such as providing a warm environment with adequate humidity levels and providing nutritional support if necessary. Antibiotics may be prescribed if secondary bacterial infections are present but these will not treat the underlying viral infection itself. In severe cases where neurological signs are present, euthanasia may be recommended by a veterinarian due to poor prognosis for recovery from these symptoms.


Inclusion body disease is a serious viral infection that affects snakes in captivity and can lead to death if left untreated. Snake owners should take steps to prevent its spread by practicing good husbandry techniques such as regular cleaning and disinfection of cages and equipment as well as avoiding overcrowding their enclosures. If you suspect your snake may have contracted IBD, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately so that appropriate treatment can be provided before the condition worsens or becomes fatal.