Implementing proper quarantine procedures is an important part of being a responsible reptile keeper.
Whether you have one snake or a hundred, every new snake you acquire needs to be quarantined from your established population. Even if you get the animal from a well respected breeder or a trusted friend, quarantine is a must. This is to protect your animals from parasites, such as mites, and communicable diseases, such as inclusion body disease.
When you bring your new snake home, they should go directly into the quarantine room. They should not enter your main snake keeping area until quarantine is over.
Ideally, the quarantine location should have a separate air supply from your established collection. For most people this is not possible, as their animals are kept in their home. If you do not have a separate quarantine building, a separate room will be sufficient; ideally as far away from your main reptile room as possible.
All the supplies and tools used in quarantine will need to remain there and only be used for the animal being quarantined. You should tend to your quarantined animals last, and do not enter your main keeping area again unless you’ve changed clothes and showered or washed your hands.
The quarantined animal should be kept on white paper towels to monitor for mites. We pre treat all of our quarantine enclosures with PAM (Provent-A-Mite) as a preventative measure against mites. Diatomaceous earth can also be sprinkled around the quarantine enclosures to create a physical barrier. Mites can travel far, and quickly. They reproduce rapidly and can infest your entire population in no time. Treatment can take months, and requires intensive cleaning, soaking, mite treatment chemicals and destruction of any porous cage decorations. Read more about snake mites here.
The quarantined animal should be observed for any sign of illness- runny stool, mucoid discharge from the mouth and nostrils, lack of appetite, etc. Any signs should be met with a visit to a reptile Veterinarian. Wild caught animals should always be treated for internal parasites once received.
The minimum quarantine period is 3 months. Wild caught animals should be quarantined for 6 months or longer. If a new animal is added before the quarantine period is over, the quarantine time starts over. So if you’ve had an animal in quarantine for 45 days, and add another animal, they both need to remain in quarantine for a new 90 day period.
Boas should be quarantined for at least 6 months as a precaution specifically against IBD. Inclusion body disease is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It currently has no treatment and is ultimately fatal. While it can infect both Boas and Pythons, it occurs most commonly in the pet trade in South American Boas. Boas can carry the virus for a while without showing symptoms, or exhibit a slow onset of symptoms, thus the need to quarantine them for several months. Read more here.