Learning How to Look After a Pet Snake
A snake needs proper care, just like any other pet. But since they are not like the common household animals we already know a lot about how to care for, in this case you need to make the effort to learn how to look after a pet snake before you buy one.
Snakes do need all the usual pet care supplies of a safe and comfortable shelter, food and water.
Here is a bit of an introduction to some of the specific needs that snakes have to stay healthy and secure.
What do snakes eat?
When snakes live in the wild they hunt and feed small rodents and reptiles. So, you might think that you have to feed your snake live rodents like mice.
But in fact, your snake can be injured by its meal trying to defend itself from being eaten, so good pet owners instead feed their snakes prey that has been humanely killed and then frozen for your convenience.
That means you just get your supply of pre-killed meals and store them in the freezer, then just thaw it out before you feed your snake.
How often should I feed my snake?
Like many adolescent species, young snakes tend to eat more than adults because they are growing so fast.
So you need to feed them a bit more often than when they become adults, for instance young snakes get fed once every 5 days until they are 9-12 months old.
After that they should be fed every 6 days.
Once they are 3 years and older you only need to feed it once every 10 to 14 days.
So once your snake is an adult, you have much less work and less demand on your food budget, as it is only around once a fortnight you have to feed it.
How much should I feed it?
Obviously you also need to have some idea of the amount of feed it needs for its size and age.
It is normal to calculate the size of the prey to feed it by checking the girth of your snake and giving it a prey that is roughly 1.5 or 1 1/2 times as big at the thickness of your snake’s body.
Are there any special requirements for water?
Your snake enclosure should always have a clean supply of tepid or room temperature water, even if your snake doesn’t seem to drink it.
Snakes tend to bathe and even to soak leisurely in their water bowl. Unfortunately, they also tend to defecate in it, so you need to be vigilant about replacing the water every day.
You should get a solid heavy bowl that the snake can’t tip over when it climbs in, and the bowl should be shallow so that it can soak without risk of becoming trapped and even drowning.
What kind of snake cage is suitable for its home?
It is important that your snake cage is very solid and secure, as some snakes are real escape artists who will head butt and nudge every door and crevice to test if it can push its way outside.
Very popular choices are snake terrariums (and you can buy a beautiful range of affordable ones online at Amazon) or fish tanks / aquariums can be used, as long as you can secure the lid on it.
But ensure that the tank has suitable ventilation once the lit is attached, as the snake need fresh air and the ability to circulate air for temperature control.
Snakes need to feel secure and able to hide away when they want to sleep in private, so provide them with some of the snake caves you can buy made from rock, wood or plastic.
To enable your snake to stay fit and toned you should also provide some tree branches for it to climb and coil over.
The snake enclosure also requires suitable bedding for the floor surface, called substrate. Newspaper, pine bark chips and aspen shavings are good choices.
Avoid using things like cedar shavings, corncob, sand, soil, or any pine shavings. You can also buy an Astro tuft sheet mat that is simple to clean and recycle for the floor covering.
Do snakes always need a hot environment?
Not all snakes actually need it to be hot in their enclosure. You should actually provide a heat lamp to attach to one end of the cage, so that there is a variety of a temperature with warmth at one end and cooler down the other end.
You can also provide a heat pad instead if an overhead light is not convenient… but do not provide hot rocks or anything that the snake can burn itself on.
These are some basic tips to help you get started, but you need to learn as much as possible about how to properly care for your pet snake, so you should visit some snake forums and interact with other pet snake owners.
And there are some great books online that you can download to learn in detail everything you need to know, including snake health topics and even how to breed your snakes if that is what you want to do.