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Posted by Chance on January 08, 2003 at 10:59:01:
In Reply to: venomous rear-fangs...info please :) posted by kristin on January 08, 2003 at 08:34:27:
Hello Kristin. I thought I'd take a shot at helping you as best I could here. The only two rear-fang species that are known to humans to be incredibly dangerous are the boomslangs (Dispholidus) and the Twig Snakes (Thelotornis sp.), the latter of which can cause a pretty horrible death with no available antivenin. Obviously you'd steer clear of these two species. Now, as to fairly "harmless" rear-fangs we have quite a variety to choose from.
The most notably harmless is also probably the most widely kept, the Hognose snakes (Heterodon sp). Because of their very docile nature many people don't even know they're rear-fanged, and many pet stores sell them. You'd probably want the Western subspecies as it is the one that will generally feed upon rodents the best, unless of course you have access to lots of frogs and toads, then any subspecies would be fine.
The mangrove snakes are generally considered fairly "harmless," though some severe envenomations have occured when the individual bitten was either allergic to the venom, very young, or very old. Nonetheless, these are beautiful snakes, which you can find in black with yellow banding, black with white banding, solid black (looks indigo in light), and "melanistic" where it's black and there is some banding but it's very obscure. Also, these snakes can reach some pretty impressive proportions, up to 8' or so. Their downsides are as follows: they can be very defensive and will sometimes strike like mad, sometimes they can be very picky eaters (though certainly some take rodents very well), they are nocturnal so you won't see them out during the day unless you force them to be, and most specimens you will find are w.c. so they are probably loaded with parasites and a trip to the vet would be very important to be sure the animal thrives.
False Water Cobras (Hydrodynastes sp.), IMO, make the best "pet" rear-fangs. These guys are just great. I have an adult pair of them and hope to be producing babies this yeah. FWCs reach very large sizes for a colubrid, usually 6 to 7' with the girth of an indigo snake. They can be very attractively patterned. They are diurnal so you'll see them out and about during the day frequently. Also, they will, as established juvies and adult, eat almost anything (literally). Hatchlings sometimes have to be persuaded onto rodents by first feeding fish then scenting rodents with fish. They are partially aquatic in the wild so they'd need a large water bowl (I use those medium cat pans available at Wal Mart for mine). And in many cases, FWCs can be very docile in captivity, though they don't really show a big preferance for being lifted off the ground and will squirm quite a bit. They are most certainly terrestrial snakes. I can really only think of two drawbacks to this species, their venom and their feeding responce. Their venom compares to that of the Eastern Diamondback (C. adamanteus), thought in much smaller quantities. A friend of mine managed to get tagged by one of his large FWCs and described the symptoms to me as nausea, fatigue, and local pain and swelling, though not much. This really would only be a problem if you showed any kind of sensitivity to the venom, but never the less, you don't want to take a bite from one of these, especially not a huge adult. This leads me to my second drawback, their feeding responce. Usually when snakes have a good feeding responce that's a good thing, because at least it means they are very willing to eat in captivity. Well, with these guys, their feeding responces can be summed up by the word psychotic. You definitely don't want to let any part of your hand get near them when feeding, so tongs or hemostats are necessary. I once had my male come flying out of the cage, snapping all over the place because the caught scent of the mouse I had in the hemos and had just gotten the enclosure open. However, as long as you just stay out of their way at this time, everything should be fine. Next to my booms, these are probably my favorite "harmless" rear-fangs.
African Bush Snakes (Philothamnus sp.) can make really good display animals and are pretty harmless as far as their venom. They are small and resemble the US's green snakes, though they grow a bit larger than them I believe. I've never kept these snakes personally, and I'm not entirely sure what they will feed upon (though most likely in the wild they take small lizards). I saw some of them at the San Antonio reptile show back in December and they looked really nice. I would have gotten them if not for the fact that we couldn't figure out what they would eat (fresh imports).
The Vinesnakes (Ahaetulla sp. in Asia and Oxybelis sp. in Central and South America) can also make really good display animals, and don't have a very strong venom. The Asian species almost never take anything but lizards, however the larger South American species will sometimes take rodents with minimal effort. Again though, as with most exotic rear-fangs, almost all of these are w.c., and can bring lots of problems with them.
Madagascan hosnose snakes (Leioheterodon sp.) can make good captives. They will feed upon mice and can reach impressive sizes. Also, you can find these as c.b. Available subspecies here are the Giant, Blonde, Speckled, and Brown.
There are certainly many more rear-fangs sometimes kept in captivity (i.e. lyre snakes, South American racers, parrot snakes, etc) but I don't have any personal experience with these so for the sake of length of message I won't go into them. Anyway, I hope this info proved helpful to you. If you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask, and if I can't answer them I'll find someone that can.