There are over 3,000 different types of snakes in the world. Some of those species are suitable for being kept as pets.
If you’re thinking about bringing a pet snake home, make sure you understand everything that goes into taking care of them first.
Read on to learn what you need to know before adopting a pet snake.
1. Space Requirements
Snakes come in various sizes, and each species has different space requirements. Consider the size of the enclosure needed for your chosen snake. Ensure that you can accommodate it comfortably.
Snakes need enough space to move, stretch out, and engage in natural behaviors. The size of the enclosure should be appropriate for the snake’s adult size. Take into account both length and height.
Some snake species are arboreal and benefit from vertical space and climbing opportunities. If you’re considering a species that climbs, ensure that the enclosure has enough height and appropriate structures, such as branches or perches, to allow the snake to climb and explore.
Snakes require hiding spots to feel secure and reduce stress. The enclosure should have multiple hiding places. These could include caves, logs, or artificial shelters. These hiding spots should be appropriately sized for the snake, allowing it to comfortably fit inside.
2. Commitment Levels
Snakes may not require the same level of attention as some other pets, but they still need regular care and maintenance. They require feeding, cleaning of the enclosure, monitoring temperature and humidity, and occasional veterinary visits. Assess your daily schedule and make sure you have enough time to meet their needs.
Snakes can live for a considerable length of time, depending on the species. Some snakes can live for 10 to 20 years, while others can exceed 30 years or more. It’s important to be prepared for the long-term commitment of caring for a snake throughout its lifespan.
3. What To Feed Them
Snakes have specific dietary needs. Some species eat live prey, while others eat thawed, pre-killed rodents. Are you comfortable with feeding snakes such food items, and can you handle the process? Additionally, consider the availability and cost of appropriate food sources.
The frequency of feeding depends on the snake species, its age, and its size. Younger snakes typically require more frequent feedings than those that are older.
As a general guideline, most snakes are fed once every 1 to 2 weeks. However, some species may have different feeding schedules, so it’s essential to research the specific needs of your snake.
4. Understanding Snake Temperament
Snakes have different temperaments, with some being more docile and others more defensive or aggressive. If you’re interested in handling your snake, research species known for being more tolerant of handling. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the snake’s behavior and any potential risks involved.
Consistent, gentle handling and positive experiences can help habituate snakes to human presence and reduce their defensive tendencies. However, not all snakes will become completely “tame” or enjoy handling, even with regular socialization efforts.
It’s important to note that even with a generally docile snake, there is always the potential for defensive behavior or a bite. It’s crucial to handle any snake, regardless of temperament, with care and respect. Always follow proper handling techniques and consider personal safety.
Consulting with experienced snake owners, reptile enthusiasts, or reptile-specific forums or communities can provide valuable insights into specific snake species and their temperaments.
When acquiring a pet snake, spend time interacting with the snake and observe its behavior to confirm that its temperament aligns with your comfort level and handling expectations.
5. Veterinary Pet Care
Like any other pet, you need to make sure that your snake has access to a veterinarian. You’ll want a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles, so they’ll be able to properly cater to your pet’s needs.
Regular wellness exams are recommended to monitor the overall health of your snake. During these visits, the veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, check for any signs of illness or abnormalities, and may recommend additional diagnostic tests if needed.
Parasites, such as mites or internal parasites, can affect the health of snakes. Your veterinarian may perform fecal or blood tests to screen for parasites and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.
Some snakes may require specific vaccinations depending on their species and geographical location. Discuss with your veterinarian if any vaccinations are recommended for your snake.
You’ll also want to be prepared in case of an emergency. Locate an emergency veterinary clinic that is equipped and experienced in handling reptile emergencies. Keep their contact information readily available in case of urgent situations outside regular veterinary hours.
6. Costs of Snake Care
Owning a snake involves initial setup costs. These could include things like the enclosure and heat setup.
But, it also involves ongoing expenses like food, veterinary care, and enclosure maintenance. All of those supplies can add up super quickly. Consider the financial commitment involved in providing proper care for the snake.
7. Laws About Pet Snakes
Laws regarding pet snakes can vary depending on your country, state/province, and even local regulations. It’s essential to research and understand the specific laws and regulations in your area before considering owning a pet snake.
Certain snake species may be prohibited or restricted as pets in some jurisdictions. For example, venomous snakes or large constrictors may be banned due to safety concerns. Research the specific species you’re interested in to ensure it is legal to keep as a pet in your location.
Some jurisdictions require permits or licenses to own certain species of snakes. These permits may be needed for venomous snakes, endangered species, or species listed under wildlife protection acts. Check with local authorities or wildlife agencies to understand the permit requirements, if any, for owning a pet snake.
If you don’t live alone, you’ll want to take everyone’s feelings into consideration before you bring home a pet snake.
Determine if you or anyone in your household has allergies to snake dander or any specific phobias related to snakes. It’s important to consider the comfort and safety of all individuals living with the snake.
But, if you do want to own a snake but struggle with fear around owning one, there are options for you.
Learning more about snakes, their behavior, and their role in ecosystems can help alleviate unfounded fears or misconceptions. Education can help create a sense of familiarity and reduce anxiety related to snakes. Books, documentaries, or visiting educational websites can be helpful resources in this regard.
If you or someone in your household has a mild fear or discomfort around snakes, gradual exposure and desensitization techniques may help.
Start by looking at pictures or videos of snakes, then gradually progress to observing snakes from a safe distance. With time and positive experiences, it’s possible to build confidence and reduce fear or discomfort.
9. Noise and Odor Tolerance
Like with any pet, you’ll want to think about noise when considering adopting a snake. Snakes are generally quiet pets. They don’t vocalize or make significant noise like some other small pets.
However, certain factors may generate some noise within the snake’s enclosure. For example, you may hear the movement of objects or substrate within the enclosure, particularly if your snake is active during the night.
Additionally, some snakes may exhibit hissing or rattling sounds as defensive behaviors when feeling threatened.
These defensive sounds are not common in most commonly kept pet snake species. Overall, snakes are known for their quiet nature.
Smell is another thing to keep in mind. Snake enclosures can have a specific odor. This odor is typically associated with the snake’s waste (feces and urine) and can become more pronounced if the enclosure is not cleaned regularly.
Cleaning of the enclosure, including removing waste and replacing substrate, is necessary to manage and minimize odors. Choosing suitable substrates and maintaining proper ventilation within the enclosure can also help reduce odors.
10. Keep Ethics In Mind
Evaluate your personal ethics and beliefs regarding keeping exotic pets. Ensure that you are comfortable with the responsible sourcing of the snake, such as adopting from reputable breeders or rescues.
And make sure that you understand and adhere to any legal and ethical responsibilities associated with owning a snake.
Ethical snake ownership involves acquiring adequate knowledge about the species you wish to keep.
Understanding their natural behaviors, habitat requirements, and appropriate care guidelines is crucial for providing a suitable environment and ensuring the snake’s well-being. Staying informed about best practices in snake care contributes to responsible ownership.
Adopt Your Own Pet Snake Today
Now that you know what’s involved, you should have some idea whether or not a snake is right for you. If you’re still unsure, sit down with a snake expert and see what advice they have for you.
Do you want to learn more about taking care of various pets? Read through a few of our other useful posts.