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You have really done your homework...


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Posted by oldherper on May 14, 2003 at 08:21:08:

In Reply to: Question, do YOU think I am ready???.... posted by -ryan- on May 13, 2003 at 17:44:47:

I wish everyone would do that BEFORE they get a snake or other animal.

You had a couple of questions imbedded in all that:

Q) This can be provided by either a heating pad, or a heating lamp (I would probably use the lamp, unless you think the pad is better).
A) This is really a matter of personal preference in most cases as long as you control the temperature where the snake spends most of it's time. What I mean is, it does no good to monitor and control the temperature from a thermometer stuck to the side of the glass halfway up the side of the cage, unless the snake hangs out there most of the time. If the snake is on the substrate, that's where you need to control the temps.

Q)The only thing I have been trying to figure out with this is 1.How are you supposed to get the snake out without getting bitten everytime? They are in feeding mode, so how will they know that it's you and not a mouse? 2.You are supposed to wait 2 days after feeding before handling the snake, so will moving it from the container back into the tank upset it's stomach at all?

A) 1. The reason you feed in a separate container is to keep the snake from developing his feeding response relative to the cage opening. If that happens he thinks that every time the cage opens, the next thing coming in is food. If he relates going to the other container with feeding, then you are much less likely to get bitten going into his cage. 2. Just moving the snake from his feeding container to his cage will not bother him, just don't take him out and handle him for any length of time just after he's eaten. Gently placing him back in his cage is no problem.

You are right, getting bitten (when dealing with non-venomous species) is part of it. However, it doesn't need to be a regular part. There's a whole different set of rules and techniques for dealing with venomous species, which can be applied to non-venomous species as well, but are time consuming and troublesome. There are ways to lower the risk even with non-venomous species and not using the venomous tools and techniques. One thing is to understand what motivates a snake to bite. It will be either feeding response (already covered), a defensive reaction, or anger. Anger shouldn't be a problem, since I doubt you will be tormenting the snake to the point of biting you. So, that leaves defensive reactions. When a snake bites defensively, it means that he feels that he is being threatened by a predator or some other natural enemy. So, you need to think about how an enemy would approach the snake and that will give you some clues as to what triggers a defensive response in a snake. Predators will, in most cases, attack a snake from above and the movements will be quick. So, try to approach the animal, if possible, from his own level and move slowly, but don't hesitate. Also, when holding him, try to restrain him as little as possible, meaning, let him crawl through and over your hands as freely as possible.

I think Dan's idea of a Corn Snake for a started is a good one. They tame readily, are very tolerant of varying conditions and tend not to musk and bite as much as something like a King Snake.

Hope that helps....good luck!


:Well, I still haven't convinced my parents, but I wanted to see if you guys thought I was ready for a snake (either kingsnake of some sort, or cornsnake. I was thinking about ball pythons, but I'm not sure that's the way to start). I have only looked at a few caresheets and stuff so far, but this is what I have determined:

:-10 gallon tank is good until they are about 30" long. When he/she grows up, it will need at least a 29 gallon aquarium (or is it 20long?). It can be good to have something bigger, but sometimes having too large of an enclosure can make a snake feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Also, you need a very very secure cage. I am looking at working out something like straps that wrap around the tank, or something like that. I am still looking for ideas.

:-Heating should be provided to get the temperature at about 80-85 (i think) on the warm side, and about 70-75 on the cool side. This can be provided by either a heating pad, or a heating lamp (I would probably use the lamp, unless you think the pad is better).

:-Inside the tank should be at least a hide on the warm side, but should have a hide on the warm side and the cool side. You also need a waterbowl. Size depends on whether or not your snake likes to bath or lounge in the water. You can also add some grapevine or other branches to give the snake something to do. Some will use it and some won't (my old snake didn't ever use his, well, maybe a couple of times). You should have the cage setup so there is room for the snake to comfortably move around, but not so much room as to make it seem that there could possibly be a predator hiding nearby (I assume that's how they think). For substrate, you can use various things. Stuff like repti-bark, aspen bedding, repti-carpet (not astroturf), and other products like those (as long as they aren't cedar or pine). I think I have heard that if you use something like wood chips, you should feed the snake in a seperate container.

:-You should feed smaller snakes ever 5-7 days, and larger snakes every 10-14 days. The size of the prey depends on the size of the snake. You shouldn't feed anything bigger than the thickest part of the snake (well, just a tiny bigger is okay). Also, I have heard that you can feed the snake in a seperate container (like a rubbermaid container or large garbage can or something, right?). The only thing I have been trying to figure out with this is 1.How are you supposed to get the snake out without getting bitten everytime? They are in feeding mode, so how will they know that it's you and not a mouse? 2.You are supposed to wait 2 days after feeding before handling the snake, so will moving it from the container back into the tank upset it's stomach at all? Feed Thawed frozen mice for convenience, and most importantly, safety of the snake.

:-When you bring the snake home, you have to give it a few days before handling or feeding. Make sure you have everything setup for the snake at least a day before you bring it home. I think there's more, but I can't really remember right now.

:-When handling the snake, it's important to realize that getting bitten is part of owning the snake. I think when I get my snake, ir it lunges at me, I'll just let it bite. That way he/she will realize that biting isn't going to get rid of me. Also, when handling, it's important to be supportive of the snake. Don't let the snake dangle down.

:If I think of more, I'll add it to the list, but right now my brain is kind of drained because I had to take a crap load of tests in school.

:So, do you think I am ready? Right now, I have a 10 gallon tank, but for the adult snake, I have space for a much larger enclosure, but I think I will go with a 30 gallon. My only real barrier is my parents. I think I can get them convinced, but if not, I guess I can live with that decision :(

:It would be nice to have a reptile that doesn't cost $10+ every 1-2 weeks like my growing bearded dragon (hopefully he will stop growing soon though, and it will only be $10 every month).

:Well, I am going to try to take my mom to this nice petshop next time I go to get crickets, and then I can let her look at the snakes and hold them.

:later





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