Lost World Reptiles: Care Sheet
This page will provide you with some simple tips on the care of your snake. This is not intended to be a complete guide. I always recommend a good book on your snake. Remember that a snake is a living thing that requires ongoing care, and you will have a long relationship with your new buddy. Always wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap after handling your snake.
Buying A Snake: We're biased, of course, but I truly believe that it is best that you buy your pet snake from a breeder. There are many reputable breeders out there and most will be happy to answer your questions even after the sale is made. You can find breeders at reptile expos.
Size: Remember that many snakes (Pythons and Boas) can grow to enormous lengths and will become difficult for the average person to care for. Think about how much room you have. Often snakes are released into the wild when they grow too large. This is unfair for the snake which was used to a certain amount of care and can be disastrous for the ecosystem. NEVER release an animal into an area to which it is not native.
Species: We suggest corn snakes as one of the best beginner snakes. They are very easy to care for and stay at a manageable size. Corn snakes generally are mild tempered. They come in such a variety of colors so you can have diversity in your collection. Most Colubrid snakes make excellent pets if they are cared for properly.
Health: When selecting a snake look for a healthy one. It should not look skinny or bony. When you handle it, it should be able to offer resistance and strength. Don't buy a snake that feels limp or squishy. Look for mites, little black bugs that crawl on a snake's body. Mites can often be best detected around the eyes. Don't buy a snake with body sores. Snakes should breathe in silence (some do hiss, however). Normal breathing should never sound raspy.
Cage: Snakes are the greatest escape artists of the animal kingdom. A good cage should have a screen top to provide ventilation. The top must be tightly secured. Never rely on putting books or rocks to hold down the top. Sliding locking lids are the best. Your cage should contain substrate. We recommend aspen wood shavings. NEVER use cedar chips for your snake. Some people use newspaper or outdoor carpet strips. These are fine but remember your substrate should always be dry and clean. Don't allow fecal matter to just sit in a tank. Occasionally your tank should be cleaned in water containing bleach. Don't use disinfecting soaps. Your snake should have a clean water bowl. Be sure the bowl is heavy as snakes seem to be experts at tipping them over. Standing water can cause many health problems. If your snake defecates in the water change and clean immediately.
Heat: Depending on where you live most Colubrids require little or no extra heat. I don't recommend heat rocks as they can burn your snake. If heat is required try a heat lamp. Be sure to provide plenty of water and a place the snake can get out of the heat. A box for your snake to hide in is always a good idea.
Food: Snakes require food whole. Unfortunately there is no such thing as snake chow. There are some commercial snake sausages but I have had little experience with them. Most Colubrids require whole rodents. I generally feed about once weekly. It is recommended that you do not put a live rodent in with your snake. If it is not hungry it is likely to be damaged by the frightened rodent. Frozen rodents are an excellent alternative. Be sure the rodent is thoroughly thawed before offering to the snake.