Body Condition Scores

BCS is the way we as veterinarians accurately record how skinny or fat an individual is. With training and extensive familiarity with a species we can give them a number score that can then be used to make long term plans for ideal health.

We have seen countless comments on group pages offering inaccurate assessments of Burmese python weight/health. Most people mean well, but just don’t have the ability to make critical observations of BCS in snakes.
To an untrained eye they all look the same! Many people will say the Burms are supposed to be “thick” and they make that an excuse for claiming an obese snake looks healthy.

So we put a significant amount of effort into creating a BCS Sheet using real photos of snakes currently living here at Snake Haus. Since we focus on surrendered animals that NEED help many of them arrive unhealthy. That focus has given us vast experience in identifying these different health levels.

We sincerely hope that by sharing this experience and information we can help keepers improve the health of their own snakes. Yes we are a rescue, but that’s not our primary goal. Our primary goal is to keep pet snakes in their original homes! Only education can do that.

May be an image of tree

Left: 3/9 too thin

Right: 6/9 too fat

All snakes have strong obvious lines of epaxial muscles on each side of that ridge. You can see on the left this snake is thin enough those muscles slope downward from the central spine ridge giving the back the shape of an upside down V. Too thin.

On the right you instead see a low groove at the center that is lower than the epaxial muscles. That means intracelomic fat is pushing those muscles up from below so they are higher than the spinal ridge at the center. This snake’s back is shaped like an m. Too fat.

An ideal BCS snake is round so the back looks like an upside down U. In all three shapes you can see and feel the epaxial muscles. What you can not see is the fat layer inside the abdomen that changes the overall shape of their back. You can’t see the fat but you CAN see the shape it creates if you look closely.

This is the biggest reason why people find it difficult to judge BCS in snakes. They all look and feel like strong muscle! viewing only one or two pictures of a snake is not always an accurate way to tell if they’re at a healthy body condition. Judging weight of these large snakes should be done via critical observations of specific body parts from different angles. Hope this helps!