Snakes are exciting creatures and with regular handling and care they can become wonderful pets. But of course they are not for everyone. If you think a snake might be a perfect pet for you then read on and find out what you should consider before getting one!
Snakes need a large tank or vivarium with enough space to move around freely. Ideally, your vivarium should be as long as your pet (or at least ⅔ of its body length) and half the body length wide. You will need to provide the correct heat, light and ventilation for your snake as well as items for hiding and climbing. Make sure your vivarium can be shut securely as snakes are very strong and can easily lift a loose lid.
Most snakes have a diet of rodents (mice or rats), rabbits and small birds. These either need to be live or defrosted prior to feeding. Some snakes may also eat frogs, other reptiles or slugs. Decide in advance who in your family is going to feed your pet snake. This job is not for faint-hearted! When feeding your pet snake remember that snakes swallow their food whole, so in is perfectly normal for them to have a lump somewhere in their body after feeding.
Many pet snakes enjoy handling and stroking. Always introduce yourself to a snake and let them get used to you before handling. Wait a few feedings before attempting to lift them out of their tank. To pick up your snake, gently hold the snake around mid body and lift it up. Support your pet with both hands when holding. Never grab a snake by its head or pull it by the tail. Its OK if your snake tries to slither away. You might want to use a snake hook to pick up your pet, especially when the snake is young or in a bad mood. You and the snake will get used to each other over time!
Snakes are fairly clean animals and therefore they only require “spot cleaning” every 2-3 weeks and after feeding. Make sure you are using reptile-friendly disinfectant and everything is dry before you put your pet back in the vivarium. Snakes shed their skin 2 to 4 times a year. Remove any peeled skin and remember to wash your hands afterwards!
Choosing a breed
There are lots of different snake species to choose from. Corn snakes a great for beginners because they are tamable, easy to handle and not very big. Royal pythons are a very popular choice with snake owners due to being very curious and calm.
Where should i get my snake from?
Unfortunately many people sell snakes illegally. Make sure that you are buying your pet from a reputable and knowledgeable breeder and the snake is a captive breed. If it is not, your snake will not be used to humans and will be more prone to illnesses due to the stress of being caught. It will more likely to be aggressive too!
If you are an experiences snake owner and wish to keep certain types of venomous snakes (full list here) you will need to get a Dangerous Wild Animal Act Licence from your local authority. Keep in mind, that the application might take some time, so do your paperwork well before you are planning to get your new pet.
Now that you have read through the list, do you still want a pet snake? Remember, even though snakes are low maintenance animals they do live for 9 years and more. Be certain that you are ready for the commitment and will not lose interest after a while! And if you made up your mind…
Good luck! And take good care of your pet snake!
For more information about snake breeds and snake handling, contact our expert mobile zoo team. And don’t forget to book the Animal Club visit to meet our animals, including our amazing royal python Mr Socks!