Keeping Pet Snakes
By: Pet City Mt Gravatt On: 28 May 2021
Pythons are some of the most rewarding, scaly pets you can have! Keeping a python as a pet snake is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, choosing the right species of snake will help you care for one as a begginer. Snakes can be relatively low maintenance if you provide them with the right supplies and habitat to thrive in. Using some helpful tips from our snake care guide will help you on your path to raising a healthy pet snake.
- All snakes bite. Do not buy a snake if you are not prepared to be bitten at least once. With proper handling and care you can greatly reduce the risk of being bitten by your snake.
- Children’s Pythons are not called that because they make good pets for kids: they are named after a British Scientist.
- Snakes can be fed every 7 – 10 days.
- Do not handle your snake within 2 to 3 days of it eating. A new snake should not be handled until it has eaten at least once in its new home: handling stresses the animal and it can become a problem feeder – putting extra pressure on the animal and its new owner.
- Snakes can live for between 20 and 35 years.
Adopting a Pet Snake
There are three species of snakes sold in store that are closely related: this means that they have very similar requirements. However we do sometimes have other species in-store, it is best to visit us or call our friendly staff. Species you can usually find at Pet City are:
- Spotted Python (Anteresia maculosa),
- Children’s Python (Antaresia children)
- Stimson’s Python (Antaresia stimsoni)
The largest of the three is the Spotted Python, which generally gets to 120cm long (some rare specimens can get up to 140cm). The Stimson’s Python is the smallest, reaching up to 90cm in length. The Children’s Python is the middleweight: growing to lengths of up to 1 metre.
As relatively small species, these pythons can be housed in enclosures between 3ft and 4ft long (90 – 120cm). They are not strictly arboreal, although providing height in an enclosure enriches the environment.
Hides are a necessary part of every snake enclosure: your animal must feel secure in its environment in order to function properly. A well set-up enclosure would have one hide in the warm end, one hide in the middle and one hide in the cool end so that the snake can regulate its temperature accordingly.
Young snakes (generally under 40cm) may not be as comfortable in a larger enclosure: this can be solved by providing more hides and making sure that the temperatures inside the enclosure are correct (refer Heating and Lighting) or by putting the snake in to a smaller enclosure until it is larger.
Glass locks are essential: snakes can squeeze through the smallest space and by placing a lock on the enclosure you are getting into a habit of making sure the glass is closed.
It is important that your snake’s water bowl is large enough for the snake to completely submerge itself in; you may notice that your animal does this when it is ready to shed – this aides in shedding correctly.
Heating and Lighting
All of the species should have a ‘warm end’ and a ‘cool end’; this allows them to regulate their body temperature correctly.
The ‘warm end’ should be between 32 – 34°C: the best way to maintain this is to set your thermostat to 33°C and position the probe accordingly (ask our friendly staff about correct thermostat placement). The ‘cool end’ should be between 25 - 27°C; it doesn’t matter if it is a bit colder than this as long as the warm end still maintains the correct temperature range.
A good way to observe a snake’s natural behaviour is to use a red or purple bulb: reptiles cannot detect light from the red spectrum and purple bulbs emit very low amounts of visual light, leading to less disruption for your animal.
Ultraviolet Light has not been proven to be beneficial to these three species of snakes, however it is important to ‘cycle’ your animal; this means that you need to ensure your animal can distinguish between day and night (this regulates certain behaviours like feeding and basking).
Snakes eat whole-bodied animals like rats or mice. These should be defrosted and offered to the snake every 7 – 10 days. If you are unsure what size food item your snake should be eating, ask the staff members for more information.
Snakes reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years of age. Spotted, Stimson’s and Children’s Pythons can lay between 8 and 14 eggs in a clutch and will only have one clutch per season.
Breeding snakes can be an interesting endeavour, however, some snakes can be difficult to feed after hatching and finding homes for difficult feeders is not easy.
As stated before, all snakes will bite. There are some animals that are calmer than others and some that are more aggressive.
Aggressive behaviour can be reduced by changing the way you approach your animal and the way that your enclosure is set-up. Sometimes having an enclosure in a busy part of the house, where there are lots of people, can stress the animal and make it more inclined to bite.
Do not attempt to pick your snake up by the tail or head; this is where predators attack the animal and as a result it will be more likely to bite. Instead, approach your snake from side on and try to slide your hand underneath its midsection; this is much calmer.
It is recommended to approach your snake with a suitable snake hook. If the snake strikes it is less likely to bite you and you will be less likely to react. This will aid in reducing stress to both you and the snake making it a more positive experience for both of you.
If you handle your animal too often it can really stress them: the main ways snakes exhibit stress are by not eating or having difficulty shedding. Ask our staff for more information regarding these issues.
By handling a snake less than three days after it has eaten you run the risk of causing it to regurgitate its meal: this is not pleasant for the animal or the owner and can have some serious health implications if it happens frequently