Snakes As Pets
Snakes come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Along with differences in appearance snakes can have very different care requirements. Snakes like other reptiles usually require a little more in-depth knowledge to keep them happy than your typical furry pet.
Many species of snakes make great low-maintenance pets that are happiest when left undisturbed. Others like water snakes, pythons other than the ball python, boas that reach more than 6-8 feet and any poisonous species can be troublesome or dangerous to handle and should be left to professionals.
Proper snake care usually consists of 2-3 feedings a month for adults and 4-5 for young of appropriate sized prey. Daily water changes and spot cleaning any waste are very important.
Good Beginner Snakes
- Garter & Ribbon Snakes (very good beginner snake)
- Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes (very good beginner snake)
- Most Rat Snakes (especially new world species)(very good beginner snake)
- Corn Snake(Red Rat snakes)(very good beginner snake)
- Bullsnakes, Pine Snakes & Gopher Snakes (genus Pituophis)
- Ball Python (Python regius) and Children's Python (Antaresia childreni)
- Rough Green Snake (Ophiophrys aestivus)
- Brown House Snake (Lamprophis fuliginosus)
- Rosy Boas (Lichanura trivirgata ssp) require very low humidity
More Challenging Snakes
- European & Asian Rat Snakes (can be aggressive or require hibernation)
- Common Boa Constrictors (Boa constrictor imperator)(large size)
- Rainbow Boas (Epicrates cenchria)(can be aggressive)
- Jungle Carpet Pythons (Morelia Spilota Cheynei)(can be aggressive)
- Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx colubrinus loveridgei) (can be aggressive)
- Hognose snakes (fussy eaters or specialized diet)
- Blood pythons (Python Brongersmai)(can be aggressive)
Snakes for Experts
- Green Tree Pythons (Morelia viridis) (can be aggressive)
- Dumerils Boas (Acrantophis dumerili)(large size heavy bodied)
- Yellow Anacondas (Eunectes notaeus)(large size & can be aggressive)
- Burmese Pythons (Python molurus bivittatus)(large size heavy bodied)
- Emerald Tree Boas (Corallus caninus)(can be aggressive, require high humidity)
- Reticulated Pythons (Python reticulates)(large size & can be aggressive)
Of course any snake that is poisonous or that reaches a size where it can be a danger to its keeper should be left to professionals!!!
Snake Care Tips
Snakes typically available in the hobby come from a wide range of habitats and environmental conditions. Failing to meet these conditions always results in problems. Be sure to learn about a snake's needs before you take it home That being said there are some general guidelines for snake care below.
- Should be at least 2/3 the snakes length long.
- Should be securely covered to prevent escape.
- A heating gradient should be provided by heating only one end of the enclosure.
- Should have some appropriate type of substrate.
- Should have some rough bark or branches to facilitate shedding.
- Cedar bedding should be avoided as it puts off vapors that irritate the respiratory system.
- Should be deep enough not to expose the bottom for non-burrowing species and deep enough, usually about 4-6 inches, to allow burrowing species to completely bury themselves.
- Some Suitable materials include aspen pine shavings, paper towels, unprinted newspaper, coconut fiber, indoor - outdoor carpeting
- Should be spot cleaned as needed and replaced every 1-2 months.
- Should be replaced if soaked, stinky or infested.
- Feeding pre-killed prey is preferable to live prey to avoid feeding injuries.
- Frozen pre-killed prey eliminate a lot of disease and parasite worries but should be warmed before feeding.
- Prey should be about the same diameter or only slightly wider than the snake.
- If fish is fed whole fish should be used not fillets as many nutrients are contained in the organs and entrails.
- Removing the snake to a separate feeding container does not teach the snake to associate your hand in the tank with feeding and helps prevent digestive problems from the snake ingesting bedding along with the prey.
- Most adult snakes should be fed 2-3 times a month; young snakes should be fed every 5-7 days.
- Do not handle your snake for 48 hrs. after feeding to avoid regurgitation.
- Water should be provided at all times and changed daily in a bowl large enough to allow soaking.
- Fasting for a month or so is normal for most snakes particularly before shedding but can be an indication of incorrect environmental or underlying health conditions especially if they become lethargic or show weight loss.
- Most non-tropical species like Kingsnakes milk, garter, rat, corn, Bull and Pine snakes require an ambient air temperature between 78°F - 82°F with a nighttime drop of no more than 5 and a basking area of 85°F-90°F.
- Most tropical species like Boas and Pythons require an ambient air temperature between 80°F - 85°F with a nighttime drop of no more than 5°F and a basking area of 90°F-95°F.
- Heating devices should be placed at one end of the longest side to provide a heat gradient.
- Under-tank pads eliminate the risk of burning often associated with intank or lamp heating and should cover 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottom.
- Snakes do not require uvb light to synthesize vitamin D3.
- Full spectrum supplemental lighting on a regular 8-12 hours schedule helps regulate the snakes biological processes