Like all other pets, snakes require the three basic elements of life: food, water, and shelter. However, there are some other elements of snake and reptile care that cannot be overlooked. From the temperature of their terrarium to veterinary care, snakes are decidedly different from the standard house pet. If you’re a first time snake owner, you need to take some time to learn about the specific needs of your species of snake, but this article will give a general overview of basic snake care.
First, let’s talk about food and water. Snakes can be herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous so you will need to have a good understanding of your snake’s species and preferred diet. Most carnivorous snakes from the pet store will eat pre-killed frozen mice which are actually a better alternative to live mice. Live mice carry disease and may even injure your snake. In addition to a consistent food source, snakes need fresh drinking water to be available at all times. Room temperature water served in a shallow bowl that your snake cannot knock over is best.
Next, we should talk about temperature. As reptiles, snakes cannot regulate their own body temperature. In the wild, they will warm themselves in the sun and cool themselves in the shade depending on their body temperature. Depending on the species, snakes will have different ideal temperatures but all pet snakes will require an infrared lamp to provide heat.
Finally, snakes are also susceptible to illness, usually as a result of parasites. New snakes should be checked by a veterinarian to ensure they are healthy and parasite, tick, and mite free. Symptoms of snake illness include weight loss, runny stools, a sudden refusal to eat, or a constant upward gaze. If you suspect your snake may be ill, you can closely check its skin for ticks but mites are nearly impossible to find. Should your snake become ill, it is important to visit the veterinarian immediately.