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Caring for and Keeping Pet Snakes
Some look at snakes are looked upon as a symbol of the devil, as a serpent temped Adam and Eve. The people that see snakes as evil do not believe they should be pets, much less found in their yards, but those who see snakes as mysterious creatures, have them as pets.
I have always had a fascination with reptiles, to include snakes. I find them interesting to watch. I find that with most things, some snakes are better suited for some people, and I've found that ball pythons are one of my favorite pet snakes, whereas some people prefer milksnakes, corn snakes, or other colubrids.
Snakes As Pets
Snakes, truly do, make great pets, as long as you know what you're getting into. Some snakes become very large or aggressive and some are finicky feeders.
Before getting a snake you should do your research. Decide which snake is best for you by reading various books, searching the internet, speaking to breeders and reptile rescues, and participating in reptile forums.
You need to decide what size you can handle husbandry wise. You, also, need to decide whether you want something to look at but not play with
There are a some snakes that are better beginner reptiles such as ball pythons, kingsnakes, and cornsnakes, so remember to do your research when deciding to get a snake.
There are two main ways to feed a snake... Frozen or live. Essentially, you want to try feeding your snake frozen feeders.
Feeding frozen rats, mice, and larger prey to your pet snake can be beneficial for many reasons. Rodents can have a hard bite; they can seriously injury a snake. I've heard stories of snakes being killed by mice left unsupervised in the enclosure.
When feeding frozen feeders, F/T, you want the thoroughly thaw the feeder before giving it to your snake. NEVER put them in the microwave. You can let them sit and thaw to room temperature, or put them in hot water, frequently changing out the water as the frozen feeder will cool the water temperatures..
Some snakes prefer their food dry, so you may have to dry off the feeder before offering it to your snake.
If your snake still won't eat the F/T feeder, you can try dipping it in tuna juice, and drying it with a hair dryer. This will give the feeder an extra smell and heat, which may entice the snake.
Sometimes the snake likes his privacy, so leave the frozen feeder in the enclosure with the snake overnight, and he may choose to eat it. Cover the enclosure with a towel, creating the effect of he's all alone may help, too. If the feeder rodent is still in the enclosure in the morning, remove it from the enclosure and throw it away.
Feeding Picky Snakes
Sometimes snakes just won't eat the frozen feeders. Ball pythons are well-known picky eaters. Their feeding habits can be hard to deal with, and although they are one of the better beginner snakes, they ARE finicky eaters.
Fortunately, ball pythons are one of the few finicky eaters of the pet snake world. For the most part, you will not have problems feeding a colubrid a frozen mouse.
In these cases, you can feed live or force feed a frozen feeder. Another option is to feed a freshly killed rat or mouse. Sometimes pet stores will kill a live rat or mouse for you. In this case, the rodent is dead and cannot harm your snake, but is still warm and sometimes twitching so that the snake will take it on its own.
When it comes to housing a pet snake, it's rather simple.
- Aquarium WITH screen
- Cage locks
- Under tank heater
- Shelter/ Hide
- Other Decor
You should size the aquarium to the particular snake you are housing. Most colubrids can live in 20 gallon aquariums happily. Ball pythons should have a 40 gallon, and larger snakes should have large aquariums. Sometimes, for larger snakes, one must make a homeade enclosure to properly fit the snake.
It is very much a myth that the snake will ONLY grow to the size of the enclosure. A red tail boa will quickly grow out of a 10 gallon aquarium, so don't purchase one if you plan on keeping it in a small enclosure. It's just not going to work that way.
You should do your research in order to make sure that your temperatures and humidity levels are appropriate for the particular snake that you want to care for. The temperatures and humidity for a California kingsnake just won't work for an emerald tree boa. It is VERY important for the health of your snake to make sure to have the proper temperatures and humidity levels.
Without proper temperatures and humidity levels, snakes, like most reptiles, will not be able to digest their food properly, which can cause a number of health issues, besides the ones caused by improper husbandy.
Never house multiple snakes in the same enclosure. Especially, if you have colubrids (king snake, corn snake, milk snake, etc.), as many colubrids will eat other snakes. Also, housing multiple snake in the same enclosure can cause bullying and stress amongst the snakes.
By housing multiple snakes of different species in the same enclosure you cannot guarantee that both species are getting what they need to thrive, as not all snakes have the same husbandry requirements.
The one big thing you want to consider when having or getting a pet snake is mites.
Mites are very hard to get rid of because they reproduce rapidly. If you think you have mites, treat the aquarium and decor, throw out the bedding, and treat the snake and the enclosure. You may have to treat the snake and enclosure multiple times before you finally get rid of the mites, but it's better to do that than to let them stay in your house. You, also, need to be sure to clean around the enclosure because they will travel to and from the cage.
Your snake can get mites from other snakes and bad bedding. You can, also, bring mites home from other snakes and reptiles.
If you already have a snake, and want another, you should quarantine the new snake first.