If you are looking for a pet that is different from the traditional dogs and cats, what about a snake? Learn all over again about snakes so you can know if they are right for you. Also, which ones make good pets?
The Lowdown on Snakes
Snakes aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. In fact, snakes can make very good pets for several reasons.
Snakes are resilient – It takes a lot to kill a snake. Because they eat so infrequently, they can miss a meal and not be harmed. This doesn’t mean regularly forget them, but if you have to alter your feeding schedule, they can adapt. Their digestion is such that they don’t eat more frequently than once a week anyway.
Snakes don’t need a lot of room – They don’t move fast, especially those bred in captivity that don’t have to chase down their prey. A nice size aquarium can make a suitable home for many years.
Feeding is simple – Snakes need meat. This can be live prey or dead. When they are hungry they will readily go for their food when it is offered. Depending on the size of your snake, the meal doesn’t have to be large to go far.
Snakes aren’t the cause of many allergies – People can be allergic to dog or cat dander but snakes have scaly skin and most people are not affected by that. Also, have you ever smelled a snake? Probably not. This is the upside of owning a pet snake – clean air.
Snakes as Pets
So now that you know the advantages of owning a pet snake, which one can you own? It goes without saying that you can’t have a venomous one. It might be cool to tell people that you own a Gaboon Viper but you won’t want it to sink its fangs into you. By the way, it has the longest fangs of any venomous snake.
Venomous snakes are illegal to own unless you are a zoo or have credentials saying that you are qualified to house and care for them. It is not uncommon for them to bite and even kill their owners. After all, snakes are wild animals and instincts do kick in from time to time.
But, back to the gentler ones that make good pets. Pet Snakes are all squiggly and look kind of sinister but some are docile and fun to have around. Here are some species to consider.
Corn snakes – Corn Snakes are bright and beautiful, and more importantly, non-venomous. They don’t usually grow to longer than five feet which keeps them at a manageable size. You can handle them with no problem as long as you do it somewhat frequently.
Kingsnakes – There are several Kingsnake species available in stripes, speckled or banded color markings. Like corn snakes, they can grow to about six feet long and do well as pets in the home.
Ball pythons – Now despite what you have heard about pythons, some are good as pets. The Ball Python only grows to about five feet. They can live for as many as 50 years. They are quiet and rarely bite.
These three pet snakes are a great way to start exploring the reptilian world.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Ball Python!
Are you a fan of snakes? Or do you think of scary slithering creatures that you would jump up screaming at the sight of? Well, whether they fascinate you or terrify you, they actually dominate a large part of the reptile pet industry! One of the most popular pet constrictor snakes is the Ball Python Python regius. They are popular due to their passive nature, relatively small size, and their beautiful patterning.
The Ball Python may actually be the most popular pet snake. It received its name from the fact that it curls up in a ball when feeling defensive. In Europe they are generally called Royal Pythons. They very rarely display aggression and have a quite docile nature, which makes them an ideal pet. They are good for beginners and children. They move slowly and can live 20 to 30 years. These pythons are mostly shy and they are small for constrictors, only reaching 3-5 feet in adulthood. They are less expensive than other constrictors as well. In the wild they can naturally occur as albinos. This is rare but many breeders are now trying to reproduce the Albino Ball Python in captivity. They are slowly succeeding but this variation is much more expensive and harder to come by than the typically colored ball python.
In 1802 the Ball Python was first described by Shaw. They originate from almost all areas of Africa. Their habitats include dry areas of open forests, agricultural areas and grasslands. Although captive breeding of these snakes in the United States has increased in popularity, a large portion of them are still imported from Africa. Wild specimens are imported most commonly from Tongo, Ghana, and Benin. These snakes are also on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species and are listed as Least Concern (LC). They are listed as only least concern because they are suspected to have a declining population due to human involvement but it is not quite large enough that they are threatened as a species yet.
When first picking out your new Ball Python you will want to thoroughly inspect it for possible health problems. This is because they are notorious for having problems while they are young, especially imported wild specimens. Sometimes young ball pythons will refuse to eat for long time periods or have respiratory problems. Check your new snake for a high level of alertness, clean eyes and clean vent, and a rounded body. Also make sure they are not wheezing and that there are no signs of bubbles in the nostrils. Other general problems to look out for are mites and ticks, blisters and mouth rot. If a snake has any of these things, do not purchase it. Read Animal-World’s Ball Python Ailments for more information.
Ball Pythons are constrictors, meaning their primary means of feeding are to bite and strangle to death their food by constricting around it. Their diet should consist of small rodents such as mice and small rats. They only need to be fed once a week. When you first obtain a young ball python, provide them with baby “fuzzy” or “pinky” mice. As they grow they will gradually eat larger mice and then rats. Young snakes may not eat right away when first put in a new environment so you will want to give them time to adjust to their new home. Many snakes also do not like to eat after being handled so you will want to wait to handle them until a while after they have eaten. Also, provide them with a fairly large clean water dish for drinking and soaking in.
Obviously, with these guys reaching up to 5 feet in length you will want to prepare their enclosure and make sure it is large enough for their full-grown size. This should be at least 36” long by 18” wide. The bottom can be covered with mulch or aspen bedding or just simply paper towels. They like places to hide and sleep, such as a box or flowerpot. Their home should include both a warm side and a cool side. The cooler side should be 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and the warmer side closer to 88 or 90 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep it warmer just put in a heating pad made for snakes. Keep their cage clean of feces.
If you are looking for a snake which is docile and good-tempered, a Ball Python is definitely a good snake to think about!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.