September 13, 2010

Basic Snake Care

Filed under: Snakes as Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:42 am

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.

September 10, 2010

Snake Ownership for Beginners

Filed under: Snakes as Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:03 am

If you’ve never owned a snake before, there are some guidelines you should follow for choosing your pet snake.  While snakes can be very interesting pets, they are not ideal for every family.  A tame snake that has experienced regular handling will make an excellent pet but you should have a good idea of what it takes to own a snake.  Moreover, you should do a bit of research about the different types of pet snakes before you rush into buying a serious snake like a boa constrictor or python.

When you are first choosing your pet snake understand that some species can live up to 20 years and as such, pet snakes are a long term commitment.  In addition, snakes are predators and they generally eat rodents or insects.  If you are squeamish about feeding prey animals to your snake, you should reconsider your decision to get a pet snake.  Most snake food is pre-killed and stored frozen so you will also have to have storage space for your snake’s food.  One of the most important things to consider about owning a pet snake is that they are very good at escaping and hiding so you need to invest in a good tank; even the smallest gap will tempt your snake to escape.

Finally, when choosing your first snake, it is not recommended that you get a constricting or venomous snake as these snakes can pose a significant risk to small children and adults alike.  Your first snake should be reasonably sized and easy to care for.  Some examples of more docile snakes include corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, and ball pythons.  On the other hand larger constricting or venomous snakes with more difficult care needs such as boa constrictors, Burmese pythons, water snakes or green snakes don’t make very good pets for first time snake owners.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.