Snakes are found in many oceanic islands and all continents with the exception of Antarctica of course. Contrary to belief, only about 10% of snakes have venom and a minimal amount of these are dangerous for humans. Despite having no eyelids, no external ears, and no legs, snakes are recognized as highly evolved powerful predators. Depending on the species, snakes kill their prey by injecting venom, immobilizing it by constriction (choking it) or a very small number of snakes around 3% swallow their prey directly without constriction and without venom. For many years, snakes have experienced ever-increasing popularity and are increasingly more common in captivity.
What is the Best Pet Snake for Beginners?
Are these good pets for you? To answer this question, you must first know the difference between an exotic animal and a domestic animal. It is important to know that, unlike some animals that can be domesticated, a snake cannot be tamed. Indeed, they can get used to human contact and our presence, but they will always remain independent, unlike a dog or a cat. There are now several different species of snake available on the market; but what are good specimens to start with? It is certainly obvious that large constrictors, such as the molurus python or the boa constrictor, are not recommended snakes for people with no experience in the field, because even if they are reputed to be behaviorally reliable, accidents can happen very quickly.
It is therefore important to cite some essential criteria before buying a first snake:
- Ease of maintenance in captivity
- Ease of feeding
- Size when fully grown
Given these criteria, here are the best species of snake for beginners:
- Royal (Ball) Python
- Corn Snake
- King Snake
- Milk Snake
- Garter Snake
How to Choose Your Pet Snake?
Having found the ideal species, you must now choose your own snake. This is a crucial step, and it is very important to know how to discern the difference between a healthy snake and a snake that is not. Here are the main points to remember when buying a snake:
Generally, when a snake shows folds of skin it is either in a period of exuviation, it is dehydrated or it is sick. It is therefore more advantageous to choose a snake whose body is smooth. During handling, the reptile must demonstrate good musculature by clinging firmly.
Snake scales are either smooth or strongly keeled. But whatever the species, it is very important to check that the scales are straight and complete, paying particular attention to the ventral scales, while ensuring that there are none missing. A snake with a few scales missing can mean that it has been the victim of an injury, such as a burn, a rodent bite, or even rotting of the scales (scale rot). It is much better to choose an intact specimen. It is also strongly advised not to choose a specimen with remains of molts on the body. A snake that does not molt in one piece may mean the snake is unhealthy.
The snake’s vent should be healthy and free of dried feces.
The snake’s eyes should always be clean and round without squinting. It is good to know that the tint of the eyes of a snake in the period of exuviation is generally bluish or whitish. It should therefore not be surprising to see the snake’s eyes opaquer when it is molting.
A snake that breathes with its mouth open means, in most cases, that its airways are blocked. Also if there are bubbles coming out of the mouth or nasal passages or there is too much mucus this is often due to a lung infection or even worse he may have a condition called ” Mouth Rot” (oral necrosis). This disease is very hard to treat, and it often ends in the rotting of the gums leading to the death of the reptile. The snake’s mouth must therefore be healthy, and the tongue must stick out regularly, meaning that the reptile is attentive to the environment around it.
Even if the chosen snake appears to be free of mites or ticks, it is important to check carefully under the scales paying particular attention around the eyes, nostrils, and inside the heat-sensitive dimples. Although it is not difficult to get rid of most external parasites, it is advisable to choose a healthy specimen.
When you want to acquire a snake, it is very important to always make sure that the chosen animal eats well. It is therefore recommended to ask the seller to kindly feed it in front of you. As a result, you are sure that it eats well, and this prevents unpleasant surprises once at home. If the seller does not want to feed the specimen in front of you on the pretext that it has just eaten, then it is best to reserve it and come back for its next meal, to ensure that it is eating well in a voluntary way. It should be noted that seeing a bump in the reptile’s stomach does not necessarily mean that it fed on its own. Indeed, some snakes can be anorexic for any reason, therefore, it is important to see it feed.
Note: It is strongly discouraged to buy a sick snake or a snake in bad physical condition in order to try to save it. So do not try to “play vet”, because, in the vast majority of cases, it will unfortunately only be a waste of time and money.
In conclusion, choosing a snake can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential health issues that can affect snakes, especially if you’re a first-time owner. By being vigilant and looking out for signs of health problems, you can ensure that you find a healthy specimen that will be a great addition to your family. Remember to always research the specific breed of snake you’re interested in, as well as the specific care requirements they need. With the right research and care, you can be sure that you’ll have a happy and healthy snake for years to come.
Reptile Wrestler Tips!
“Each breed of snake has unique characteristics, behaviors, and care requirements. Make sure you understand the needs of the snake you’re interested in before making a decision!”
“ When choosing a snake, make sure to look for signs of health such as clear eyes, smooth skin, and a well-rounded body shape. Avoid snakes that appear thin, lethargic, or have any visible signs of illness!”
“Snakes come in different sizes, so make sure you have enough space to accommodate the size of the snake you’re interested in. Research the adult size of the snake and make sure it’s a good fit for your space!”
“Observe the snake’s behavior while it’s in its enclosure. A healthy snake should be active and alert. If the snake appears lethargic or unresponsive, it may be a sign of poor health!”
What are the best breeds of snakes for beginners?
Corn snakes, garter snakes, and king snakes are good options for beginners as they are relatively easy to care for and have a docile temperament.
How do I know if a snake is healthy?
A healthy snake will have clear eyes, smooth skin, and a well-rounded body shape. Avoid snakes that appear thin, lethargic, or have any visible signs of illness.
How much space do I need to keep a snake?
The size of the enclosure will depend on the size of the snake. Research the adult size of the snake and make sure you have enough space to accommodate it.
Can I handle my snake often?
It’s best to handle your snake a few times a week to build trust and bond with them, but it’s important to let them have its own time and space as well.
What kind of food do snakes eat?
Most pet snakes eat mice or rats, depending on their size. Some larger species may require rabbits or even chickens.
How often should I feed my snake?
Feeding schedules will vary depending on the species, age, and size of the snake. Research the species of snake that you have for more information.
Do snakes need a heat source?
Yes, snakes require a heat source to maintain their body temperature. A heat lamp or under-tank heating pad can be used.
Do snakes need a special kind of bedding?
The type of bedding will depend on the species of snake. Some prefer a substrate such as aspen shavings, while others prefer a more natural substrate like cypress mulch.
Do snakes need UVB lighting?
Some species of snakes, such as those from desert environments, may require UVB lighting to maintain their health. Consult with a veterinarian or breeder for specific species recommendations.
Are snakes good pets for children?
Snakes can make great pets for children, but it’s important to supervise children when handling the snake and teach them proper handling techniques. It’s also important to ensure the snake is not in danger of being mishandled.
Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.