Before we buy a snake

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How to prepare to buy an exotic snake?

I want a snake. Okay, but what snake? This is a much more difficult choice than a dog or a cat. While there are a number of different breeds for dogs and cats, we are still dealing with one species, and the breeds do not differ so much from each other. As for snakes, there are over 3,000 species in the world, ranging from small, several centimeters long, to eight- to nine-meter reticulated pythons. Therefore, it is very important here to consciously choose the right species that interests us. We need to know that not all snakes are poisonous, indeed, the poisonous ones are in the minority (they constitute about 20% of all species), and the fact that a given snake is poisonous also does not mean that it will automatically be dangerous to humans.

As for Polish regulations, we cannot keep most poisonous animals at home anyway, so we will give up on this group of animals. We will focus on those that are not poisonous.

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Young Green Python (Morelia viridis)
Young Green Python (Morelia viridis)

The most popular snakes

The most popular at the moment in amateur breeding are corn snakes, which have a lot of color variations. Among them, every snake lover can find something for himself. I have noticed recently opinions on the internet that the Corn Snake is for beginners, that it will not give any fun to a person who already has some experience. I believe that this is not true. Each species has its advantages and disadvantages.

I can recommend among corn snakes, typical snakes from a Colubridae family like amur snakes. Now a bit forgotten, but 15-20 years ago, they were one of the most popular in amateur breeding in this part of Europe. Royal pythons from constrictors, contrary to appearances, do not reach large sizes, quite easy to maintain. The boa constrictor is also not some great snake to pose a threat, as it does in myths.

We often hear a story told by someone who had a boa or other snake in the family who was trying to get at a human, judging whether he could swallow it. This is total nonsense. Each species selected for our breeding requires, firstly, previously acquired knowledge and determination of whether we will be able to provide this animal with appropriate conditions (temperature, humidity, substrate). It will not be a pet that we can pick up and play with. This snakes do not need happiness. A conscious exotics pets’ breeder enjoys observing this animal in a terrarium, in which he tries to create conditions as close to natural as possible. He enjoys the reproduction of a given species, which is quite a challenge. It will definitely not be a toy and a pet for a child.

The terrarium must be properly secured against the escape of animals. All electrical components, such as lamps or heating cables, must be protected so as not to cause burns. Substrate fires also occur, especially in the case of dry peat litter.

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Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus)
Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus)

How to arrange a terrarium for a snake?

Snakes inhabit a variety of environments. Depending on what species we choose, we have to build a terrarium adapted to the conditions that will prevail in it. For example, providing tropical conditions (high humidity and temperature) or a tall terrarium for snakes living in the treetops. A snake that spends all or most of its life on the ground will require a different type of decor. There are species that we will hardly be able to observe because they have a secretive lifestyle. Here, the key to success in proper breeding is not that we will always see our pet and we will be able to brag about it in front of friends, but that we will provide it with the conditions that a given species requires. This is the absolute basis.

What and how to feed the snakes?

Most of the snakes that we can keep in our homes can easily be switched to feeding with frozen food. This method has been promoted for many years on experts forums and groups on social networks. This method of feeding reduces the risk of the snake being injured by the defending rodent. In addition, it eliminates unnecessary stress of the pet intended for food, minimizes the risk of transferring parasites or other pathogens to the snake. Unfortunately, I often meet on the Internet, especially among young people, with the fashion for feeding with live food, making this kind of spectacle, inviting friends, recording and uploading movies to the Internet. Some argue that in the wild, the snake hunts only for live food. That’s not true. A snake in nature will not despise carrion.

We should also remember that the terrarium is not a natural environment where the victim can escape. We don’t give it a chance here. It is a place where we take care of the snake and cure it of diseases, which nobody does in nature. Feeding with dead, frozen food is suitable for 99% of all snakes. Only some specimens cannot be switched to providing a much safer dead food.

What can threaten us from the snake in the house?

The snake cannot be a mascot or a toy. If we want an animal for a child that we can often pull on our hands, there are a number of other species that agree to it, but certainly not a snake.

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Snakes respond primarily to movement, they can perfectly see what is moving. When stretched out on the hands near the face, it can react to a twitch of the eye, a blink of the eyelids with which we involuntarily move. It can consider it a potential food and attack. Some snakes, mainly rattlesnakes, which we do not breed in our homes, but also all constrictors have excellent infrared vision, which means they can see heat. They can also react to our pupil, which is a little warmer than the rest of the body, and they can think of it as something to consume. A meeting with several dozen or several hundreds of small, needle-sharp cloves for our eyeball will not be a pleasant experience.

We also need to take into account the fact that snakes, like other reptiles, can carry salmonella and other pathogens that can infect us and our children, especially with weakened immunity. After each contact, after cleaning in the terrarium, changing the water, we must wash our hands well to prevent unpleasant surprises.

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About this category

Animal at home is a project derived from the Polish portal dedicated to domestic pets, which I run. This blog category features the best articles I have created with pet experts. Together, we help educate their current and future owners.

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Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewicz
Hi, I am the author of the blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.