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My personal experience

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Posted by Brendan on October 21, 2002 at 18:48:37:

In Reply to: Newbie questions posted by notpitr on October 21, 2002 at 16:57:45:

The first thing I would say to you is Kudos for being smart enough to ask questions before jumping into maintaining a venomous reptile. Most people don't give it too much prior thought. I know because I was one of those people about ten years ago when I picked up a Great Basin rattlesnake while taking a family vacation out west. I found the little guy curled under a large boulder and coaxed him out of his shady hide spot with a small stick. With the flimsy stick I pinned him and picked him up and dropped him into an empty 1 gal water jug I pre-filled with sand and poked some holes in. (DUMB on all accounts- the pinning and actual handeling was the dumbest of all, but I was young and didn't know any better) I am just lucky I didn't get bit.

The snake made it back to my home state 1400 miles away after a tour of the entire west in a 35 foot winnebago 2 weeks later and not too much worse for the wear. I set him up in a 15 gal high tank and had that thing secured like fort knox. From that point on the only time I would ever come close to handeling him would be with a hook which a friend gave to me (fortunately) when I had to clean the tank. He was an extreemly placid animal and would never rattle. He ate live mice like a champ and I kept him for 2 years until I made the mistake a giving him a food item that was too big and he later regurged and died.

It was not until about 8 years later when I moved to the state of AZ, that I had any contact with a venomous snake. Once I got here I joined the local herp club and volunteered to do rattlesnake rescues and form then on I was hooked on BUZZTAILS. I have kept almost all of the native rattlesnakes in AZ that are legal to keep (ie. not listed as protected) at one time or another. After a while you develop a preference for certain species and time and money will only allow you to keep so many so you have to become selective.

So...My suggestion would be, if you use a little common sense and caution there should be no reason you couldn't keep a rattlesnake. I would suggest you find out first what species it is. That can make your decision a little easier. I would tend to stay away from the highly aggressive animals. (note: it's just a generalizaion as you can certainly have a very placid specimen from a species that is known to be aggressive ie. mojave's or diamondbacks).
If the animal has been a long term captive then your friend should be able to give you some insight into the snakes personality.

As for stuff to have on hand: snake bite protocol for the specific animal and a pretty good knowledge of it, hook or tongs, proper housing and documents on husbandry for the particular species. Everything else you will learn in time. Just always respect the fact that the animal has the potential to be deadly.

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