Whether you are a novice or experienced, ReptilianWorld gives you all the practical advice to choose the right snake and avoid the pitfalls during the purchase. It is important to be well informed before buying a snake. A snake is a long-term commitment, so it is important to know its needs to take good care of it, take care of its health and provide it with adequate nutrition. Of course, its habitat requires special attention: the choice of a terrarium and its layout will be widely discussed.
Choosing your first snake
The snake is popular as a pet. In captivity, it is often easy to tame and keep. However, some breeds of snakes require more care than others. Some also take up more space. If this is your first snake, some species of snakes are easier for you to handle. How to choose one that suits you? Starting at what age?
Understanding the character of the snake
Considered a new pet, the snake can quite possibly become an ideal source of distraction for humans. Yours will bring you its daily presence. However, you should know that on an emotional level, it will not fill you much, your snake will not show any particular attachment concerning you on an emotional level.
Nevertheless, your future snake will be easily tamed. Also, it often does not require excessive maintenance. They do not need to be fed daily, do not cause any allergies concerning you, they have no body odor, they make no noise (most species not all) and do not need to be taken out.
A well-considered choice
Some snake breeds can live up to 40 years. When you decide to buy a reptile, The commitment on your part is important.
You will have to answer several questions to choose the right snake:
- The snake’s size. A big one, a smaller one, which size?
- The character of your snake. Do you want a rather curious, lively one? A little aggressive? A calm?
- Some snakes are more handleable than others. Contact a veterinarian who specializes in NAC for more information.
- You must choose a snake whose lifestyle will suit you. Some are diurnal, nocturnal, others twilight.
The cost of the snake
Adopting a snake for several decades represents a significant cost. On purchase, of course, but also throughout its life with regular maintenance.
Thus, buying a snake can vary from a few tens of dollars to thousands. To this must be added essential equipment such as a terrarium, a lamp, accessories and of course food. However, snakes do not eat every day, such as a python can be satisfied with a rodent every 2 weeks. It is not mainline of expenditure.
Which snake is ideal for beginners?
There are simpler breeds to tame and handle to get started:
- The Corn Snake is a diurnal snake that arrives from the south of the United States. It has a longevity of 20 years and its size will not exceed 1.80 meters in adulthood. It is the ideal snake, to begin with since it can be handleable without showing the slightest sign of aggressiveness. After ingesting food, it should be left alone for about 3 days during its digestion phase.
- The Milk Snake (or Campbell’s false coral) is also a diurnal animal that tends to be handleable. In the wild (it comes from Mexico), it feeds mainly on other snakes. In captivity, its diet can be adapted with other mammals. With the longevity of around 12 years.
- King Snake arrives from the south of the United States. Its life expectancy is 15 years. It is very calm and very easy to handle. Like the Milk Snake, it feeds on other snakes in the wild but accepts food from dead and frozen rodents in captivity. It poses no danger to humans. Just be sure to bring the necessary heat to your terrarium (between 27 and 32 ° C during the day and 24 ° C at night).
- Snakes in the Pythonidae family such as the Children’s Python, which is not very large (1 meter). Younger children can bite if they feel in danger, but the bite is not venomous. They are docile, they are easily handleable.
- The Ball Python can live up to 20 years. Very rarely bites and due to their docile nature they are handleable. eats dead rodents like mice and rats. A young ball python must be fed once a week while an adult is satisfied with a ration every 10 days. In adulthood, your ball python should have a large rat for its ration. A little will no longer be enough for him. It is nocturnal.
- The Boa Constrictor is also a very popular snake, like the ball Python. It can measure more than 4 meters and impresses with its size. Nevertheless, this giant who can live up to 20 years, he is very docile and easily handled. It requires fairly high humidity (up to 80% when it molts). It feeds on rodents (rats, mice, gerbils, rabbits). The Boa Constrictor has the advantage of having many hopes with different colors.
Where to adopt a snake
It’s good to know if the law does not prohibit the purchase or sale of snakes before purchasing a snake.
There are many places where you can adopt your future snake.
- The pet stores are full of specimens. Preferably choose a pet store with a good reputation. Some do not take care of their animals. They can, therefore, present diseases or behavioral problems.
- Professional breeders. In this case, however, you will have to go to the breeder’s home to see the captive conditions of your future reptile. Do not hesitate to ask any questions that come to mind. Also, observe your animal and judge its health.
- At a private individual, live or on the Internet through numerous sites. However, it is advisable to always travel to meet the seller physically. This avoids unpleasant surprises.
Which terrarium to choose for your snake?
Your future snake will live all its life in a cage. In his case, we will speak more of a terrarium. The snakes must be at ease to move around, eat and of course rest. Its habitat will mainly depend on its size, and therefore on its species. We give you adequate advice to buy the future home of your reptile.
The terrarium of your snake depends very much on its breed. Thus, a corn snake will not have the same needs as a Ball Python or a Boa Constrictor, which are quite bigger since it they reach more than 4 meters. It is often recommended to take the size of the snake to determine the length and width of the terrarium with the following equation: the size of the snake = length + width.
The size of the terrarium
The size of a Corn Snake’s terrarium will depend very much on its size. Thus, a young corn snake will have a smaller terrarium (50 cm in length by 50 in width) than an adult corn snake. In general, avoid placing a small snake in an over-sized space. It would increase her anxiety and harm her health. Care sheet for corn snake,
A terrarium that is too small will be too narrow for an adult snake. They will move less, therefore move less and can cause obesity, Which is harmful to the snakes health. It is advisable to double the length of your terrarium when your corn snake is adult.
The ball python is not the largest snake. A terrarium of 50 to 60 cm will be perfect for a juvenile python. Like the corn snake, you can double the length of the terrarium once it is adult. In the wild, this snake enjoys living in small spaces like termite mounds. Care sheet for ball python,
It can grow up to 4 meters in adulthood. It is, therefore, necessary to buy a terrarium adapted to your boa constrictor according to its size. Young, it will not need as large space as once grown. This snake can adapt to any type of habitat. However, be careful not to take be too small or too large as it can causes health issues and stress. Care sheet for boa constrictor.
Material for the enclosure
- The glass terrarium provides more light for your snake. It is also easier to clean and is particularly aesthetic. You can, therefore, observe your snake more easily. The hot zone should be around 32 ° C. At night, it will be better to lower this temperature to 25 ° C for a boa constrictor for example. You will, therefore, have to install a thermostat in addition to a heating pad. You will have to take care that your snake does not burn. On the other hand, an all-glass terrarium will simply allow you to place a heating mat underneath easily.
- The OSB wooden terrarium retains heat better than glass. If you have the skills and resources, you can also design an entirely homemade one, by adjusting the size to your liking. It is cheaper than the glass terrarium. 2 notable drawbacks: greater difficulty in cleaning it and sliding windows on the front. Not ideal with snakes still young and livelier than their elders.
- The PVC terrarium is more resistant than glass, also more insulating and therefore easier to heat. On the other hand, it is more expensive to buy but pays off fairly well since it is more enduring.
The layout of the terrarium
Your snake will need to evolve in a furnished space for him to be happy throughout his life. Thus, your terrarium should contain several accessories such as:
- A hiding place at the hot zone.
- A hiding place at the cold zone.
- A water bowl of a size large enough to promote humidity in his terrarium and that he can slip entirely inside to cool down.
- A tropical substrate to promote humidity. If it is a tropical species
- A fairly rough element (stones, branch, etc) for the molting periods, so that your snake rubs against the rough sides of the objects.
- Artificial plants for decoration and naturalistic look for the enclosure.
How to build a snake terrarium?
During its whole life, your snake will have to benefit from optimal living conditions. That is to say, having at your disposal a terrarium that meets all your desires and obligations. Thus, the snake can be happy, fulfilled and will feel safe. The development of your living environment is very important, even crucial. Find all our advice.
The layout begins with the basics of the terrarium
As a reminder, a terrarium can be made of different materials. There is glass, which offers beautiful light and is prized for its aesthetic side. The OSB wooden terrarium retains heat better. It can also be a designed at house if you have a the skills. Finally, there is the PVC terrarium, which is more resistant, more insulating, but also more expensive.
Regarding the size, it all depends on your snake. The terrarium will necessarily be smaller for a corn snake, especially if it is still young. Thus, plan 1 meter in length and 50 cm in width in adulthood. The terrarium will be more imposing for a boa constrictor and a ball python. In particular for the first, which can reach the size of 4 meters in adulthood. Plan ahead.
The essential elements of the terrarium
The terrarium your snake must contain accessories or elements necessary to offer him good living conditions. So, you will have to install:
- 2 hiding places minimum. One for the hot zone, and another for the cold zone. You can have others. For example, tree trunk. You can also pierce a coconut so that it can be threaded into it.
- Of decorative items such as rocks and branches. Your snake will be able to climb on them. Everything must be balanced, without overloading the terrarium. Your reptile must be able to have sufficient movement space. A rock, on the other hand, can be very useful for when molting. Its roughness will allow it to get rid of its shed.
- The substrate must be particularly tropical. It can be neutral.
- A bowl of water so that your snake can soak. It should be large enough to be comfortable, entirely, inside. You can opt for a simple dish or a more decorative one found in pet stores or specialized stores.
All objects should be arranged in a balanced manner. Your snake must be able to move without constantly bumping into it. The snake must be free to move. There is a balance to be found which you will get by trial and error.
Heating, an essential element
If there is one thing to consider, it is the heating of the terrarium. Your snake should have a warm corner and a cold corner. To achieve this result, you can rely on several solutions such as a heating mat that you will place under the terrarium, heating cables that allow you to be more precise on the area to be heated. Finally, the traditional heat lamp is placed inside the terrarium. It is advised to protect it by wrapping it to prevent your snake from getting burned.
The location of the terrarium
Choose a place with little traffic. This will limit the stress on your reptile. Avoid placing it on the floor, as cold could emerge from the tiles and disturb the heating. Also, while walking, you will cause vibrations which will be seen as can disturb your snake.
What does a snake eat?
Feeding a snake is the easiest thing in captivity. You just need to know the species that are in you own, and you will never have to change an a lot of its diet. The only variable is frequency.
Your snake is a carnivorous reptile. No vegetarian snakes exists despite some unfounded rumors. However, Their diet varies according to the species, most common pet snakes diet is rodents.
A live or frozen rodent
The 3 snakes above, and even the main snakes intended for captivity feed on live or frozen rodents. It is best to offer him food that is already dead. This will prevent him from involuntary injuries inflicted by a prey who tries to defend himself before giving up. A mouse or rat can easily scratch your reptile’s eyes and injure it quite badly.
The rodent in question should no longer have a trace of ice on its body. Ice could offer some digestive problems to your reptile.
Which rodents to give?
The type of prey to give depends on the size of your snake. Thus a corn snake less than 4 months old can be satisfied with a very small mouse once a week. A baby mouse will take over until its 8 months. Afterward, you will need to give it a medium sized rodents every 10 days approximately. Then, as an adult, a corn snake can ingest an adult mouse every 2 weeks.
In the ball python, consider an adult mouse every 8 to 10 days. When your snake is an adult, you can give it an adult rat every 3 weeks or so.
Finally, the Boa constrictor will be full, if it measures less than 90 cm, from one to 2 mice 2 times a week. Larger, it will have to ingest 1 to 2 rats per week. Those who measure more than 2 meters can eat a rabbit every 10 days.
What to do in the case of regurgitation?
Sometimes your snake does not digest its prey well. They will regurgitate and this will irritate his esophagus. Nothing serious on the surface, but you will have to wait 2 weeks before offering him food again.
Feeding a Snake
If there is one very simple fact about snakes, it is their diet. This step may be difficult to perform at first. On the other hand, there is hardly any need to modify a diet based on the same prey. However, the frequency of meals and the quantity may vary. We show you how to feed your snake.
A corn snake, a boa constrictor and a ball python feed on the same prey: rodents, whether mice, rats or even hamsters. However, some of these captive breeds have different needs in terms of prey size and frequency.
Know how to feed your snake
A prey given to your snake must be done with a food tong. Your snake will seize its prey almost instantly. It is important that it can not bite your hand by accident. Take your precautions before opening any terrarium. Also, never approach suddenly. Let your snake notice the prey.
It is possible to give a living prey to a snake. We do not recommend it. A living rat or mouse, locked in a terrarium and thus feeling in danger, could be aggressive towards the snake. Once caught, it could continue to struggle, could even seriously scratch the reptile. Even once caught, the prey can struggle to the point of seriously scratching your reptile. Some wounds do not heal. The eyes can also be affected. It is, therefore, best to feed your snake with an already dead animal.
A well-thawed prey
All kinds of domestic snakes need unfrozen prey. If your method of preservation is to stock pile a freezer to anticipate several months of food, you must pay particular attention to the thawing of the only food of your snake: its prey. It must never present a point that is still frozen. This could cause digestion problems, sometimes regurgitation.
To defrost a prey, pass it under warm water after it has come out of the freezer. Then, touch the prey on the belly to make sure it does not have any more frozen spots.
Frequency of meals and size of prey
The frequency is not the same depending on the type of snake, even if we always come back to the same post-swallowing stage: leave your snake alone during its digestion phase. Also, the size of the prey varies depending on the age of your snake and its length.
Water Requirements For Snakes
Cold animal par excellence, does your snake need water to live? At least, should he ingest it? This question is legitimate. Many ask themselves and the answers are not always very clear. What is the use of the water placed in your reptile’s terrarium? How do you know if your snake is hydrating?
Does the snake drink water?
Let’s twist the rumors: yes, your snake gets hydrated by drinking water. Its cold body is by no means an admissible argument which could make believe that this reptile does not need water to live.
You never see him drinking? It mainly lives at night even if it depends on the species. Therefore, he has a habit of drinking when you are in bed. However, your pet does not need water daily. It must be present in its terrarium, but like its food needs (a prey every week or even once every two weeks), the slowness of its metabolism can lead it to drink sparingly and irregularly.
Thus, the water container placed in his living space is an essential accessory for his good health. It is not only important in terms of hydration but promotes the establishment of a climate conducive to its development.
Water at the center of snake life
Beyond offering your snake something to drink, the water in the container allows him to bathe and thus regulate his body temperature, but also and above all to regulate the humidity level in the terrarium. If it is too low, you will need to install a larger container. Conversely, in case of too high humidity, a smaller container is necessary. This container must, in any case, be able to accommodate your reptile inside. The presence of leaves and plants also plays a role in the variation of humidity.
- If your corn snake is less than 4 months old, its need for food will be one prey per week, in priority a very small rodent. It is about the same frequency until its 8 months with this time a baby rodent. Up to 1 year, the frequency will vary from 7 to 10 days. After and until the end of his life, he will have to swallow an adult rodent every 15 days.
- Your ball python feeds on a mouse every 8 to 10 days if it is young. As an adult, a meal consisting of a fairly large rat (about 15 cm) every 3 weeks is more than enough.
- Your boa constrictor needs, if it measures less than 90 cm, from one to 2 mice every 4-5 days. Between 90 cm and 2 meters, your snake will have to eat one to two rats per week. Finally, the older ones need a rabbit (rarely 2), every 10 days.
How does your snake eat its food?
In general, your snake’s prey should be one to one times one and a half times the width of its body. How does he manage to swallow it without a problem? In reality, your reptile’s upper and lower jaws are not connected. This allows it to eat prey larger than the size of their heads. They take advantage of their hook-shaped teeth to keep the prey in their mouth and move the two sides of its mouth one after the other.
Your snake’s digestion usually lasts a few days. During this time, you should not disturb it. A satiated snake is a more lethargic snake. It no longer moves as quickly and can be more easily subject to stress. This often causes regurgitation. When you no longer see the hump of its prey, it is because the digestion is finished. Then, in the following days, your snake will urinate. This humidity also depends on another factor: the temperature of the terrarium and the room where it is installed.
Water must be renewed
Never forget to regularly renew (at least once every 2 days) your snake’s water. Indeed, it can quickly become a nest of parasites. Many pathogens appreciate the humid conditions to develop and interfere with the life of the hosts. They can become encrusted on the skin of your reptile, but also in its organism. It is essential to provide clean water for your pet.
Handling A Snake
Rigor and patience. These are the 2 essential qualities for handling your snake. How to take it correctly? How to hold it afterward? Whether for your safety or that of your reptile. How do you avoid getting bitten if you have a poisonous snake? Our advice for easy handling.
Your snake will not feel better with or without handling. It is not a domestic animal that needs to sense the presence of humans. This mainly causes stress in your reptile more than it reassures him. On your side, this can represent an unnecessary risk if your snake is venomous or dangerous.
On the other hand, certain species are easily tame and easy to handle. These are wheat snakes, boa constrictor and ball python. They do not represent any danger by taking them out of their terrarium. They are calm, docile and ideal for families with children.
Rules to respect for handling
You should never grab your snake by its head. He will feel attacked or in danger. He will respond with a bite. When he is in his terrarium, grab him in the middle of his body. Go ahead frankly, without hesitation. Otherwise, your snake will sense and absorb your fear, causing it greater stress.
Never hug your snake once it has left its habitat. On the contrary, give 2 supports to your snake and let it move on you. They must be free to move even when handled, and not feel contracted.
When should you not handle it?
- Certain periods are not conducive to handling your snake. When firstly arrives, you must leave him for several days in his terrarium. Let it discover his new environment, soaks up a different atmosphere. He is already stressed and there is no point in adding more.
- During the digestion phase. Once its meal is swallowed, your snake will be less energetic. Above all, he will seek to rest in his warm corner. You have to leave him alone.
- During its molt. A period when his behavior changes and when he can be more aggressive at times.
What you should not do
You should not go for a walk outside with your snake wrapped around you. It is not a pet like dogs or cats. It can scare people you meet on the street. Your snake will also experience greater stress. In addition, temperature changes unsuitable for its species can have a negative impact on its health. You should also never let your snake roam free at your home. A moment of inattention is enough to see it disappear and never find it.