Monday, August 10, 2015

Snake Fungus

Black Rat Snake with O. ophiodicola granuloma -
A deadly fungal disease in snakes is gaining more attention recently.  Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is found in the soil but only in the last few years has it been associated with disease.  It has somewhat similar characteristics to white-nose syndrome in bats.  While occupying different niches both fungi share many of the same enzymes.  These enzymes allow the fungus to persist in the soil, metabolizing similar nitrogen and carbon sources.  Although surviving on dead matter it can also attack a live snake.

According to researchers at, snakes affected by snake fungal disease include northern water snakes, eastern racers, rat snakes, timber rattlesnakes, Eastern massasaugas, pygmy rattlesnakes and garter snakes.  So far this has been found only in some eastern states, but some cases have been found in Tennessee and Illinois which abut Missouri.

At this time, researchers are uncertain if this fungus can attack healthy snakes or whether it only affects snakes with poor nutrition and impaired immunity.  Also unknown is why this fungus has only been causing disease in the last few years.

* There is far more detail in Chrysosporium-Related Fungi and Reptiles: A Fatal Attraction reported in PLOS.

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting, I have several black snakes with very warty looking heads on the farm, I wonder if this is what's going on with them?