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Posted by dumdumdumeril on April 25, 2003 at 11:34:11:
In Reply to: zonata disease? posted by bxherp on April 25, 2003 at 10:10:27:
:: I have recently had a c/b adult male kingsnake that was sold to me as an Az mtn king (L.pyromelana pyromelana)die of what appears to be zonata disease. This snake had been healthy and feeding well for over 2 years and had received a clean bill of health from a good herp vet only 4 months prior to its demise. I have never kept any of the zonata species and was unfamiliar with the disease other than beleiving that it only affected the Calif. mtn kings.My snake died about 2 months ago and now I just happened to stumble upon a description of thhe disease and it matches perfectly with the symtoms that my snake exhibited. Could it be that this disease affects some other species besides zonata? Or did the breeder and myself misidentify what kind of king was sold to me? I did not have the corpse examined by my vet, and in fact disposed of it and the encloser as well as all the equipment used for that specimine. ( I get extremly paranoid about disease in my collection)Has anyone else ever heard of this disease effecting anything other than zonata's?
:Hi...I am sorry about your snake...I never heard of this disease...Can you describe it for me or point me to a resource where I can learn more about it....THanks..-Elvy
:Here is a copy of an earlier forum posting that is about as good of a description as you can get, hope it helps.
i was looking for some info about these disease and a couple of friends suggested to contact Rick Staub. he knows a lot about zonatas and he's doing his masters at UC Berkeley about these species. someone was looking for the same info so i posted the info that Rick emailed me(this is also co-authored by G. Merker). here it is again;
Lampropeltis zonata are also susceptible to a disease or syndrome that has
yet to be fully characterized. Herpetoculturists have coined the name
"zonata disease" simply because the subspecies of L. zonata appear to be
the only snakes that are susceptible to it. Currently it is unknown
whether zonata disease is caused by a virus, bacteria, fungus, or some
other agent. The specificity that the disease seems to show for L. zonata
would suggest that it is the result of a virus but this is speculative.
"Zonata disease" does seem to be highly contagious but this is also
difficult to judge without knowing what causes the disease. Characteristics
and symptoms associated with "zonata disease" are as follows:
(1) The skin becomes rough and dry as if the upper scale layer has been
removed. Typically this is first observed on the eye caps which look as if
they have been scratched with sandpaper. Snakes with the disease will often
go through repeated shed cycles.
(2) The snake becomes dehydrated probably from the erosion of the scale's
ability to retain moisture. Hatchlings are at an increased risk of
dehydration due to their small size. Typically infected snakes will
continue to feed and appear otherwise healthy.
(3) As the disease progresses, partial paralysis begins of the lower third
of the body. The snake will often arch its back as it crawls in what
appears to be an attempt to minimize contact with the substrate. This may
also be the result of an increased sensitivity on the eroded belly scutes.
(4) Most if not all subspecies of L. zonata can acquire zonata disease
though the Baja mountain kingsnake (L. z. algama) appears to be the most
sensitive. Other closely related species like the Arizona mountain
kingsnake (L. pyromelana) do not seem to get the disease, but, could still
act as carriers as could other species.
(5) For L. zonata the disease is usually fatal. Some individuals do
eventually "shed out" of the skin disorder but the partial paralysis often
remains at some level. Providing moist conditions seems to help increase
the probability of survival possibly by just preventing death due to
dehydration and allowing the snake's own immune system to eventually
overcome the disease. Individuals that survive the disease do not appear to
It should be noted that L. zonata are highly stressed when conditions
become too hot and dry. We have noticed several individuals that acquired a
skin condition very similar to that described above minus the paralysis and
marred eye spectacles. The skin condition in these individuals cleared up
after moisture and cooler conditions were provided and the snakes completed
one or two shed cycles. We do not know if this alternative skin disorder is
also zonata disease but just in a less virulent form, but the temperature
and moisture conditions in the cage do seem to be related, possibly for
Preventing the spread of "zonata disease" is difficult since the causative
agent is unknown. Obviously quarantine procedures for newly acquired
animals and isolation of potentially infected animals should be followed.
Additionally good husbandry practices such as not moving uneaten food,
water bowls or other items between cages should be strictly adhered to.
Sadly, we have observed specimens exhibiting "zonata disease" in the wild.
A population in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California had
several animals that displayed the typical symptoms described above.
Whether this resulted from the careless release of animals or is actually a
naturally-occurring phenomenon is unknown at this time.