You may have seen somewhere or watched someone blowing smoke in the face of their snake or even snakes smoking cigarettes. Do you know that it is dangerous for snakes to get exposed from smoke?
Smoking cigarettes, vaping around reptiles, and exposure to secondhand smoke may result in chronic respiratory problems that can lead to the death of the animal. Washing hands before handling, smoking outside of the house are all actions that will ensure the reptiles wellbeing.
What are the possible effects if you smoke around your snake? How about vaping? What will happen if you smoke cannabis around your snake?
Ball pythons are among the species of snakes that have two lungs. Some snake species have either missing, fully developed, or vestigial left lungs . Ball python lungs are vulnerable as a tiny droplet of water can cause respiratory infections.
Before we go to smoking and other things, let’s tackle first the main organ in the respiratory system of our ball pythons, their lungs. While other snakes only have one lung or their other lungs are underdeveloped, ball pythons are one of the snake species that have two lungs.
Based on a study, the length of the right lung tends to be 11.1% of the body length of studied snake species. The ball python has the most developed left lung compared to other snakes studied. If you are wondering, the species of snakes assessed during this study are ball python, boa constrictor, reticulated python, green tree python, rainbow boa, and carpet python.
As a ball python keeper, we know that our snake’s lungs are sensitive. If inhaled, one tiny droplet of water can cause them to have respiratory problems. Knowing that your snake has a vulnerable lung or two, do you think it is okay to smoke around them?
Smoking around a ball python can cost the snake’s life. A snake exposed to cigarettes, secondhand smoke, and e-cigarette fumes tend to show breathing difficulty at first and might die because of it. Vaping, smoking cigarettes, and exposure to secondhand smoke can cause detrimental lung disease effects on snakes.
I have a heavy smoker friend that used to take care of a ball python, and he tends to smoke around his snake. When I visited him, I noticed that his adult ball python began holding its head in the air while its mouth was open a few minutes after the smoke from his cigarette went up in the air. Seeing his snake acting like that, I apprehended him about his smoking near the reptile.
I advised him to schedule a check-up for a vet as that activity is a known sign of breathing difficulty or respiratory problems. He went to the vet, but it turned out that his snake was fine. After learning that his snake was okay, I concluded that snakes are sensitive to the air they breathe.
After that, I researched more about smoking around animals, and here’s what I found. If your dog inhaled the smoke from your cigarette (not from you), it could develop chronic diseases on its nose, depending on its nose size.
Long-nosed dogs are more prone to disease as the chemicals they inhale from tobacco smoke will get trapped in their noses, while short-nosed dogs have the risk of having lung cancer as the chemicals they inhale will go directly into their lungs.
How does this fact relate to our snakes? Imagine what would happen if the carcinogens and other compounds in tobacco products were inhaled by a snake whose lung(s) are way smaller and more sensitive than a dog’s.
Inhaling secondhand smoke can be detrimental to a ball python’s health and all snakes alike.
Remember my friend that I visited? I asked him again about his ball python. This time, I asked how his ball python reacts whenever he emits the smoke from the cigarette. He said that his snake’s reaction was just the same as how I saw it during my visit.
After two days, his snake died without showing any signs of weakness aside from the reaction it showed during my friend’s smoking session. I learned that our snake could get secondhand smoke and react to it the same way it may respond to the smoke from the cigarette itself.
Suppose your snake’s enclosure is appropriately ventilated (as it should be), and you are smoking around your reptile. In that case, you are forcing the animal to breathe all the toxic and deadly chemicals through your secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc., to human beings, and the effects could be worse for the snakes.
Smoking is bad enough for us humans. The damage that it may inflict on the tiny lungs of our reptiles is unimaginable.
Vaping or using e-cigarettes around snakes can be dangerous, and it may result in the reptile’s death. E-cigarettes or vape contain harmful chemicals such as nicotine that may cause lung disease.
Although e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes because they contain fewer toxic chemicals than the said tobacco product, vaping around your snake is still detrimental . It may cost your snake its own life. Your vape contains nicotine and other chemicals which can be harmful to you and your snake. The risks of vaping can be overwhelming to your snake and its sensitive lung(s).
Smoking around a snake with an open window or covered enclosures doesn’t make the air safe for the reptile to breathe. Snakes can inhale smoke as it tends to stay in the mid-air because it is heavier than air.
Smoking around your snake is still not acceptable whether you open your window or cover your pet’s enclosure with a piece of cloth. Why? When a cigarette is lit, you may notice that the smoke it produces tends to go upwards. Hot smoke tends to ascend, but the smoke from you and your cigarette cools down in seconds and will stop climbing upward. Being heavier than the air, the smoke from your cigarette will now descend and stay in mid-air .
Without a choice, your snake will now breathe the available air in the atmosphere, including the smoke you and your cigarettes produced. Opening a window or two won’t prevent your snake from inhaling the toxic and dangerous air you and your lit cigarette disposed of in the atmosphere.
Using a fan or air purifier won’t guarantee that the air is safe for your pets to breathe in. There is still no concrete proof that the purifiers wipe out the toxic particles from the cigarette smoke. These products may reduce the smoke you see, but its particles are still present in the air and tend to stick to objects.
Protecting the snake from the dangers of cigarette smoking is vital to prevent the animal from having respiratory issues and dying. Smoking outside, washing hands can help to ensure the safety of one’s pet from the harmful chemicals from tobacco products and their adverse effects.
Smoking outside the house might help protect the snake or other indoor animals from the dangers of tobacco products and secondhand smoke. It can keep the animals from the harmful chemicals that may result in respiratory problems such as lung cancer, nose cancer, respiratory infection, etc.
If you cannot restrain yourself from the urge to smoke, you can do it outside your house. Smoking outside can reduce the exposure of your snake to harmful chemicals.
Washing hands may eliminate the chemicals and the risk present in smoking. It may significantly wipe out the toxic compounds stuck in the smoker’s hands.
It would be best to wash your hands before and after each handling session to ensure your snake’s health. Chemicals, especially nicotine, tend to stick after having a smoke, hence the smell left in your fingers. Washing your hands may help lessen your snake’s contact with these harmful chemicals.
My personal suggestion is just quitting smoking altogether! It is better for everyone
Snakes can get high or stoned like other animals. Reptiles have been found to have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) and can interact with different chemicals such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) . Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active component of marijuana. Inducing lower amounts of THC may result in hyperactivity in reptiles, while larger amounts can make the affected animal inactive or calm..
Snakes tend to get drunk with alcoholic beverages. Being under the influence of alcohol, a snake might become calm or inactive.
Some snakes refuse to touch alcoholic beverages, but there are few accounts from keepers that their snakes get drunk when their reptiles drink the alcoholic liquid offered. Their snakes became either calm or lethargic after getting drunk.
Snakes’ lungs are too sensitive as inhaling a tiny droplet of water can cause respiratory problems to the animal. A snake exposed to cigarettes, secondhand smoke, and e-cigarette fumes tend to show breathing difficulty at first and might die because of it. Vaping, smoking cigarettes, and exposure to secondhand smoke are dangerous enough for humans and possibly have worse effects on snakes.
Protecting the snake from the dangers of cigarette smoking is vital to prevent the animal from having respiratory issues and dying. Smoking outside, washing hands, and quitting smoking can help to ensure the safety of one’s pet from the harmful chemicals from tobacco products and their adverse effects.
Snakes can get drunk with alcoholic beverages and as a result, the animal might become calm or inactive. Snakes can get high or get stoned like other animals, including humans. Reptiles have been found to have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) and can interact with different chemicals such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active component of marijuana. Large amounts of THC may result in inactivity or calmness of the reptiles, while lower amounts may result in hyperactivity.
van Soldt, B. J., Metscher, B. D., Poelmann, R. E., Vervust, B., Vonk, F. J., Müller, G. B., & Richardson, M. K. (2015). Heterochrony and early left-right asymmetry in the development of the cardiorespiratory system of snakes. PloS one, 10(1), e116416. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0116416
Silver R. J. (2019). The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 9(9), 686. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090686
Chaperon, Frédérique and M. H. Thiébot. “Behavioral effects of cannabinoid agents in animals.” Critical reviews in neurobiology 13 3 (1999): 243-81 .