CARING FOR YOUR PET SNAKE
Snakes are interesting and easy to care for. There are a large variety of species suitable to the home environment. These snakes are members of two families, the Boidae and the Colubridae. The Boidae family consists mainly of Pythons and Boas. The Colubridae family includes Kings, Corns and Garters.
Snakes can be found in deserts, savannas and rainforests with conditions ranging from the cool temperature to the hot tropics. Different species have adapted to living in trees, in water, on the ground or in burrows.
A Snake’s Social Graces
Snakes do not require social interaction. In fact, most snakes are quiet and reclusive, spending much time in their favourite retreats conserving energy between feedings. Most snakes can be handled for short periods at a time, but over-handling can cause stress. There are times when they will prefer to be left alone. These times include the moulting periods and feeding times.
One, Two or More?
It is never wise to mix different species of snakes together. They may interpret one another as a threat or competition for food.
Some species may be kept in colonies, such as Garter snakes, but even those have been known to attach one another during feeding time. To prevent this problem, each snake should be offered food individually.
To provide a happy healthy atmosphere for your pet, Petland recommends the following necessary accessories. We have listed them as your new pet’s four basic needs: Nutritional, Environmental, Maintenance and Behavioural. When these needs are met, along with a loving environment provided by you, your snake can live a long and happy life.
Your Snake’s New Home – When choosing an enclosure, make sure you accommodate your snake’s natural behaviours. Arboreal snakes prefer a tall environment with sturdy branches to climb. Terrestrial snakes require more ground space to crawl around in. Glass vivariums and aquariums are excellent homes. They can be easily climate-controlled, while offering excellent viewing. A locking screen top is important for ventilation and security.
Warm Surroundings – Snakes, like all reptiles, cannot generate their own heat. They require warm areas within their home to bask. A variety of heat lamps are available to keep areas in your snake’s home warm. Keeping the substrate warm with an under-the-tank heaters will provide secondary heat source (even at night) when the lights are off. Don’t forget to get a thermometer to measure the temperature.
Each species requires a different temperature during the day. At night, it is quite common that the temperature should drop. To learn the best temperatures for your snake, just ask a Petland pet counsellor.
Lighting – Although the majority of snakes that Petland adopts are nocturnal, some people choose to light up their terrarium for aesthetic purposes. Nocturnal snakes spend most of the day in their enclosures, keeping safe from predators; they are not naturally exposed to sunlight, which provides UVA/UVB rays. There is no adverse effects to providing a full spectrum fluorescent bulb, which will highlight the natural colouration of your snake. If you choose to have a light on your snake’s home, make sure they have an enclosure to retreat into darkness. There are many lighting options available. Please ask your pet counsellor what light would work best for you and your snake.
Frozen Dinners – A natural diet for most snakes consists of the small rodents and birds it has captured. Captive-bred snakes will accept killed rodents without much trouble. Frozen mice and rats can be thawed out prior to feedings. Appetite stimulants are available to entice your snake to accept the food offered, should the need arise.
Fresh Water – Snakes are very particular about the water they like to drink. Fresh water at a lukewarm temperature should be offered daily.
Flooring – The bottom of your snake’s home should be easy to clean, as well as mimic his natural surroundings. Snakes from humid tropical environments utilize bark-style litters to retain humidity. Desert snakes prefer sand substrate for its heat retaining ability. Reptile carpets can be useful for all varieties of snakes, although ground dwellers may hide under them.
Clean litter is very important. At least twice a week, fecal material must be removed and the bedding must be cleaned. Bark-style litters and reptile carpets can be soaked in a mild reptile safe cleaning solution. Soiled sand substrates should be replaced as necessary.
Hiding Places – Every living creature needs an area to call their own. A hideaway is necessary in reducing stress and makes them feel secure. Tree dwellers prefer plastic plants or hollowed cork bark suspended near or around a high branch. The ground dwellers will make use of natural and artificial caves as safe havens within their homes.
Rocks and Logs – These decorations are very necessary for all reptiles including snakes. Snakes rub against these decorations. When they are shedding their skin. A well-decorated home will help to reduce your snake’s stress level, and allow him to become more adventurous.
A Pool of Water – Snakes require water for more than just drinking. A container of fresh water should be large enough to allow the snake to completely submerse themselves. Snakes shed their skin as they grow. Prior to shedding, they will soak in water to loosen their old skin. The container used for his water should be weighted or tip resistant and the water should be changed daily. Water-soaked litter can cause the snake to feel uncomfortable and will lead to skin infections.
A Specific Book on Your Snake – Each species will have his own unique requirements. Petland has many excellent books on snake and reptile care. Having a book at home will provide you with a good understanding of your snake and an excellent reference when the need arises.
Please ask your pet counsellor what other items pertain to your particular pet’s needs.
*Ask about the volunteer programs at your local Petland store.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet’s home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit diseases to humans. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their homes.