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Eye Color Change in Ball Pythons

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Ball pythons have piercing dark eyes that often carry the same colored patterns as their bodies, with tiny stripes or lines running through them. When ball pythons begin to shed, their eyes change color temporarily, appearing blue or gray. This is a normal part of the shedding process, not a permanent color change.

When It Starts

Ball pythons shed their skin several times a year, starting shortly after they hatch. When young, they might shed as often as once a month. As they grow, they basically outgrow their skin. The eyes start to look cloudy and blue about a day into the shedding process. This is a sign that liquid is building up between the eye and the eye cap, which is part of the snake's skin. This fluid helps separate the eye and eye cap so it can release easily.

How Long It Lasts

It normally takes seven to 10 days for a ball python to go through the shedding process. The first sign is usually a pink belly, followed closely by cloudy eyes. The eyes typically stay murky for about five or six days, during which time the snake can't see as well as it normally does. When the eye caps detach, his vision returns to normal.

Stuck Eye Caps

If there's not enough humidity in his habitat, a ball python might not get all his skin off at one time. It's common for his eye caps and skin on the tip of his tail to remain, although pieces along his body might also be stuck. Eye caps that remain can make your snake's eyes appear gray or silver. Increasing the humidity can help the eye caps fall off naturally, or you can soak the snake in a plastic tub of shallow, warm water -- about 80 degrees Fahrenheit -- for about an hour to loosen the stuck skin. The water should be shallow enough that he can rest comfortably on the bottom while being nearly covered, usually 1 to 2 inches deep. You can also dab at the eye caps with a warm washcloth. When the eye caps are removed, you should see your snake's original eye color return.

Other Eye Issues

There is a line of albinism that runs through ball pythons, and albino pythons don't have the traditional dark eyes. Instead, their eyes are pink. These eyes still turn cloudy and bluish during shedding. If your snake's eyes stay blue or cloudy after shedding and you've ensured that the eye caps were removed, have a vet check him out. Eye injuries often lead to cataracts growing over the eyes, giving them a permanent cloudy cast.