Some studies indicate that about 3% of households in America have at least one reptile as a pet. While the numbers aren’t as big as, say, the number of households with the most common pets such as dogs and cats, reptile owners are just as eager to choose their pet.
One reptile that has been a common pet over the years is the snake. There are many types of snakes. Some are common to America like the rat snake or the garter snake. Some are exotic like the Ball Python or the Boa Constrictor.
We basically don’t know how to take care of snakes because they are cold blooded. It makes their whole system completely alien to us. It becomes easy to misunderstand how they should be brought up. For example, they do not maintain their own body temperature and are therefore dependent on their environment. When a snake is not warm enough, its metabolism slows down and it is more prone to infections.
Boa constrictors and pythons require a cage temperature of 77 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Native snakes such as garters require temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm room temperatures can be achieved with heating pads and heat lamps under the cage. The temperature should always be monitored with a terrarium thermometer. Care must be taken that the cage does not get too hot or too cold.
The humidity in the cage should stay around 50 to 70%. If it is not moist enough, the snake’s skin will dry out and it will not be able to get rid of its skin properly. Keeping a wide-mouthed bowl that doesn’t easily spill filled with water in the cage will help maintain humidity. The heat in the cage will cause the water to evaporate constantly. The snake can also take a bath in the bowl from time to time.
Litter substrates vary. Aspen chips, cypress mulch or orchid bark can be used in the enclosure as litter. In the past, newspaper or indoor-outdoor carpet was also recognized as easy-care bedding. Bedding should be cleaned frequently. If you are using an indoor outdoor rug, cutting several pieces to the size of the cage allows you to change and wash them.
Having large limbs in the cage creates a three-dimensional area in which the snake can move. This lifts it off the ground and effectively multiplies the travel space available in the cage.
Most snakes eat small mammals. The choice and frequency is based on the size and type of snake you own. You can start with the little fingers, which are baby mice, and work your way up to rats and even rabbits. Some snakes prefer frogs and small reptiles. Most snakes eat every two to four weeks when they are adults. They eat more frequently when they are babies. Food selection and frequency are best determined by discussing this with knowledgeable snake owners.
As you can see, a snake is a completely different ball game from dogs and cats. Be sure you want to go into this business. Do a lot of research and advice before you start.