Every now and than garter snakes can suffer from blister-disease, but this can appear in other reptiles too.
It usually starts with a pinkish red colouration of some belly scales. After that there appear blisters/small bulges that gradually grow larger. This is caused by inflammation of the scales by bacteria and/or fungi.
These are caused by one of the following cases (often a combination of the three):
- The terrarium is too moist making the snake lie on a most substrate all the time.
- The terrarium is not warm enough.
- The terrarium is unhygienic because it is not cleaned often enough.
When you change one or more of the above three factors when the first symptoms appear, then the problem often will disappear by itself and there after one or two skin sheds you cannot see it any more.
- Make sure there is ALWAYS a very dry area in the terrarium present. This can be done by radiant heat from above using a spotlight.
You can also apply a floor heating. The easiest way is by means of a heating mat. Where necessary you can transfer the temperature you want via a dimmer.
- When you solve problem 1 as described above, problem 2 is usually also solved. Eventually you add another spotlight to raise the temperature or you exchange the one you use for a lamp with a higher wattage.
- In a terrarium that is dry fungi hardly will grow and bacteria are much less likely to massively multiply themselves. Of course you should also regularly replace the substrate and respect better overall hygiene rules. Also the water container has to be regularly cleaned and filled with fresh water.
When the symptoms are so bad that already bumps/blisters have arisen, you start
with the above changes. Put a drop of liquid iodine on every blister/bump 1 x per day. Take the large water bowl away and replace it for a small one where the snake cannot lie in but only drink. Otherwise the iodine will be gone very fast. If this does not give the result you want, then you should contact a vet who knows about reptiles. Let him/her judge whether an antibiotic is needed.
Keep your terrarium dry and clean and your snakes will normally never get blister disease! Prevention is better than cure and much less work…