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Ask Anna Your Own Question
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11061
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have a black rat snake with an irregular lump below its ...

Customer Question

I have a black rat snake with an irregular lump below its vent in the tail. What could it be and how can i help the snake to heal if its harmfull??
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.

What does the lump feel like - soft, hard, like it has water in it, etc.?

Can you give a more detailed description of what the lump looks like? Is it just one lump that's not evenly shaped, or does it have two sides, or a cluster of smaller nodules, etc.?

Thank you for the additional information.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to MsAM's Post: it feels soft. and is only on one side of the snake. like a boil.. it might have water in it. it doesn't seem to hurt the snake when it is touched. and its just below the vent. thanks for your help anna.

Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for getting back to me, Aimee. It may indeed be an abscess or boil. It could also be an infected hemipene. The best thing to do would be to take your snake to a reptile vet. If you believe this is an abscess, you can try a home treatment first. Two or three times a day, hold a very warm wet cloth on the swelling for about 5 minutes. If this is an abscess, the heat and moisture may be enough to cause it to start draining. If it does, clean it with Betadine, and put a very small amount of plain (NOT the kind with pain relief in it) antibiotic ointment on it twice a day until it heals. Don't try to lance the swelling. If it doesn't drain within a few days, or it drains, but doesn't heal, you'll need to see a reptile vet. I would recommend just making an appointment tomorrow, but you'll have to decide if you want to try the home treatment first. These links will take you to directories of reptile vets:

If you have more questions about this, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your snake will be fine.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click on ACCEPT. Thank you.)
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Relist: I prefer a second opinion.
the lump is hard now and is not moving at all. i tried the last suggested method of treatment nothing worked. ???? please help>???
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
The lump is apparently not an abscess since it didn't respond to the treatment and is now hard. As I recommended before, a vet is the next step. however, since you requested a second opinion, I'll opt out of the question, and someone else can give you an opinion.

Expert:  Joan replied 8 years ago.


I would have to agree with Anna, that this snake should be examined by a Herp Vet. When it comes to a lump it can be anything as small as a skin infection, abscess or a large as problem with the Hemipenis getting ready to prolapse. Since we cannot do a hands on examination, the Herp Vet can treat the problem prpoperly without causing undo pain and discomfort to the snake. Joan

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
The snake doesn't seem in destress at all. and when the lump is pushed on it doesn't seem to hurt the snake in anyway. The snake is also eating and excreating fine. .... honestly can't afford the vet so any other suggestions???
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
The only kind of lump there is any home treatment for is an abscess. Even then, many types of abscesses contain a thick liquid that will not drain, so home treatment is not always successful. If you can't take the snake to a vet, all you can do is hope the lump isn't something serious. The following site has lots of information on lumps in snakes, if you'd like some more ideas about what this could be:

I'm sorry not to have a home remedy for you, but this is one of those cases where there just isn't one.