Snake Essentials

Needs for snakes vary among species. Please research your species and/or ask your veterinarian for particulars concerning your pet. Most snakes sold in pet stores are generally easy to handle and non-aggressive. Moving into a new environment can cause stress and your new snake may not eat for several weeks to months; this can definitely be normal, however, it can also be a sign of more serious problems. We recommend having you r new pet examined by your veterinarian within 48 hours of purchase and at least once a year thereafter. We also recommend bringing in a stool sample (when snake has one, can be a while) so that we may check for intestinal parasites.

We recommend purchasing your pet from a reputable breeder; captive-bred animals should be purchased versus trying to catch wild snakes this is NOT a good idea. Wild snakes are less tolerant of stress, likely to refuse food, have parasites (internal and external), and are potentially very dangerous.

The doctor may be able to cautiously probe the cloacal area to determine the sex; this also depends on the age and size of the snake. The cloaca is a common opening for the urinary, digestive and genital tracts. Most snakes only have one functional, simple lung which extends most of the length of the snake.

Snakes can easily develop pneumonia because they have no diaphragm and therefore cannot cough or clear their airway. Respiratory infections in snakes are very serious in comparison to other animals; if you notice any discharge from nose, congestion or gurgling please make an appointment for your pet to be seen as soon as possible.

Please ensure that your snake sheds properly. A common problem is retained shed over the eyes which can lead to decreased eating because the snake cannot see properly.

Enclosure is a big part of your snake's well-being; enclosure and proper habitat will ensure a healthier pet. As your pet grows, you will need to change enclosures to make it more comfortable. Newspaper or butcher paper is referred bedding materials. If you need to wash the cage, use a mild soap and water rinse it well and let dry completely. A VOID sand, gravel, wood shavings, com cob material, walnut shells, and cat litter; these products can impact you r pet if accidentally eaten and are rather difficult to clean. Cedar wood shavings are toxic to reptiles!

Branches are acceptable; the top of the branch should be near a heat source for the snake to bask. You can also place rocks into the enclosure. DO NOT put heat rocks into the cage, for these can cause serious injury. A hiding place should also be provided.

Reptiles are endothermic (cold-blooded) which means they require a heat source to maintain and regulate their body temperatures. The cage should be set up so that one side of the cage is warmer than the other; allowing the snake to move around when needed. The cooler area should be approximately 70-75 degrees & the warmer side should be 90-95 degrees. The heat source should be placed outside and above the enclosure. During the evening the temperature may be kept at 65-70 degrees. U/V lights are necessary to produce Vitamin D-3.

Common problems requiring a visit to your veterinarian:

  • Anorexia - lack of appetite or refusal to eat can be due to disease; can be normal associated with pregnancy or if snake is kept incorrectly.
  • Salmonella - snakes can carry these bacteria, although it is more likely with turtles. Most snakes that carry salmonella do not show clinical signs and usually require no treatment.
  • Lumps and Bumps - lumps and bumps can be caused because of infection, tumors, or parasites.

Snakes eat their prey whole; this cuts down on dietary related problems & makes it easier for the owner. Amount and how often you feed your snakes depends on species, size and age of your pet. A vitamin supplement is not required for snakes; however, you must ensure the prey items the snakes eats are healthy and well fed.

A crock with fresh water should be provided for the snake to drink from, but they will also bathe in the crock as well. Snakes will eliminate in water, so ensure to change the water frequently.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us.

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