important questions About Snake Check-list
Snakes are great pets, they are quiet, seemingly easy to care for and great topics of conversation at parties! Before showing off your reptile, preview the information we provide for you here- especially under the 'Caring for Your Snake' section as there is a host of valuable information for you, the pet owner.
Snakes are elongated, legless animals possessing dry, scale-covered skin. Their skin is unusually elastic which allows it to stretch when large prey items are swallowed. Snakes are rather unique because of these features and because they lack moveable eyelids and external ear openings. Lengths of snakes may vary from only a few inches to several yards long!
Snakes inhabit a wide variety of ecological habitats: land, trees, underground, freshwater, and saltwater. They are found on every continent except Antarctica and no native snakes are found on the islands of Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, and Ireland.
Selecting a Pet Snake
Some snakes are rare and endangered and are, therefore, protected by law. These snakes may only be kept by zoos and legitimate herpetologists possessing the appropriate permits. This is also the case with venomous snakes, which should not, under any circumstances, be kept by the average hobbyist.
The most common snakes kept by enthusiasts are the many and varied constrictor species (Boas, Pythons, Rat and Milk snakes), and the Race, Gopher, and Garter species. The husbandry and dietary requirements for these types of snakes vary considerably. Furthermore, some of the same species (notably the Boa constrictors and Pythons) reach very large sizes in captivity and their considerable space requirements must be anticipated.
Usually, an individual eager to own a snake as a pet already has a species preference and because of some prior familiarity with it or because of an inexplicable attraction to a given species' physical appearance, size, activity, habit, etc. Before the acquisition is made, it is advisable that a prospective snake owner carefully considers the following recommendations:
Snakes, as a general rule, require relatively little space because of their limited and non-exertional activity. Generally speaking, the size of the enclosure should allow the inclusion of certain required items that will be discussed below and still allow the snake adequate space to stretch out and move about. Snakes will utilize both the horizontal and vertical space within their enclosure if provisions are made for its activity.
Aquaria or other similar glass or plexiglass-lined enclosures are usually most suitable because they allow optimum visualization of the safety for the occupants and help to maintain desirable environmental temperatures and generally high relative humidity levels. Wire-lined enclosures may afford adequate visualization of the snakes within them but certainly cannot contribute to the maintenance of desirable environmental temperature and humidity levels. Furthermore, such enclosures promote injuries to the rostrum (nose and surrounding tissues) as snakes continuously attempt to "escape" through the wire mesh.
Any enclosure used must have a secure top and be escape-proof. All hinges and locks should be secure. All snakes are potential "escape artists" and many (especially the California King Snakes) can escape from almost any apparently secure enclosure.
Horizontal and Vertical Substrates
Unprinted newsprint, butcher paper, paper towels, terrycloth towels, and indoor-outdoor carpeting are the most suitable materials covering the bottom of a snake's enclosure. In fact, the first two materials mentioned can be cut to size and be placed many layers thick on to the floor of the enclosure. When the top layers are soiled, they can be easily removed, leaving the clean, dry paper in its place. This makes cleaning of the enclosure very quick and efficient. If the indoor-outdoor carpet is used, it is best to have two or three pieces cut to the correct dimensions. This way, there are replacements that can be used while that piece which has been soiled is being cleaned and disinfected.
Under no circumstance should pea gravel, kitty litter, or crushed corncob material, and wood-shaving be used. These substrates are unquestionably more visually esthetic than most of the materials mentioned in the previous paragraph. They are, however, unsuitable because they trap moisture and filth, provide unlimited "hiding places" for external parasites, and make enclosures containing them very difficult to clean. Furthermore, these types of particulate substrates are easily and inadvertently ingested while the snake is feeding which can cause mechanical injury to or obstruction of the digestive tract.
Snake Visual Security
It is very important to provide some privacy for a captive snake. Many snakes will not feed without the privacy afforded by some degree of visual security. This can be accomplished by providing a "hide box" into which the snake can retreat when it feeds or at other times when privacy is desired. Visual security can also be provided by the use and strategic placement of silk plants (and trees if the enclosure is large enough to accommodate them). Silk plants are esthetically pleasing, easy to clean and disinfect, require minimal maintenance, help to augment the relative humidity level of the enclosure if the foliage is frequently misted, and can complement a snake’s ability to camouflage itself, thereby providing the snake with the visual security it requires.
Climatic Considerations for the Enclosure
The tropical species of snakes kept in captivity require relatively warm temperatures and high relative humidity. Daytime temperatures should range between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures can fall between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit without creating problems for most snakes. Native American snakes will do well when maintained at temperatures between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Relatively large enclosures can be supplied with heat lamps or heaters equipped with thermostats, whereas small enclosures may be adequately heated by placing a heating pad directly underneath them. Exposed heat sources must be protected to keep snakes from receiving serious burns as they attempt to war themselves by coiling next to them.
Large and small enclosures would also provide the snake with a focal (spot) source of warmth. Small snakes should be offered a hot rock. Large snakes can utilize one or more, well protected and waterproofed heating pads. These appliances allow the snake to have direct but safe, contact with the heat source, which helps to raise their body temperature. This allows the snake to be more active and increases its rate of digestion. Owners must check these appliances frequently for malfunction and periodically check the snake for evidence of burns because snakes will generally not move away from heat-generating appliances when they are being severely burned.
Ideally, it would be advantageous for all captive reptiles to be housed in such a way that they could be exposed to and benefit from direct, unfiltered sunlight during the daylight hours each and every day. This represents the healthiest and most natural situation. Unfortunately, this set of circumstances can rarely be fulfilled by owners because it is neither practical nor possible. The next best solution is to use artificial ultraviolet light sources rather than fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs. We recommend that one or more Vitality TM to be used to illuminate the enclosure during daylight hours. In order to approximate a natural photoperiod, it is best to supply 10 to 12 hours of daylight and 12 to 14 hours of darkness each day with a gradual increase in the number of hours of light provided in the spring and a gradual decrease in the number of hours provided in the fall and winter months.
Water containers must be thoroughly and regular cleaned. Failure to do so allows water within them to stagnate, which encourages bacterial proliferation. Snakes drinking out of and soaking in this water soon become ill. We recommend the use of Roccal-D as a disinfectant for the snake's enclosure and furnishing at least once every 2 to 4 weeks.
Specific Dietary Recommendations For Snake
The variety of snakes kept in captivity is considerable and their food preferences are quite variable. The following is a list of preferred prey animals for the snakes most commonly kept in captivity:
Boa constrictors, pythons, rat snakes, gopher or bull snakes:
Garter snakes, ribbon snakes, water snakes, etc.:
Indigo snakes, king snakes, and many racers:
Ring-neck or brown snakes and their relatives:
Racers, vine snakes, coachwhips: