The ARL often receives pet snakes surrendered by their owners. The reasons vary: Too difficult to care for, the novelty wore off, the children lost interest or moved away, and frequently the snake is sick and wasn’t properly cared for. Snakes are easy to find in our area – there’s a reptile show twice a year and pet stores sell them. But without proper education about how to care for a snake, it may end up at the shelter or get sick and die.
If you are considering buying or adopting a snake, please do your research. Understand the needs of the specific type of snake, and determine if you will be a responsible owner. Here are a few guidelines to consider:
What Kind of Snake?
- If you are a beginner with snakes, the smaller ones are recommended such as corn snakes, ribbon snakes, milk snakes or garner snakes. They require less space and are not too particular about their temperature requirements.
- Snakes such as ball pythons and boas which people think are cool and are frequently sold at reptile shows require more experience with snakes. They can be finicky eaters, require more space and can easily be stressed. If the family has small children, these snakes are not recommended as they can strangle them.
- Never consider a venomous snake as a pet. They are dangerous. Zoos and sanctuaries are better equipped to keep them.
What Does it Take to Care for a Snake?
- First and foremost, know your type of snake and its needs. Each type has different requirements for feeding, space and habitat, and temperature and humidity.
- Snakes must eat their natural diet which means that they should be fed what they would normally kill in the wild. This includes mice and baby animals such as rabbits. Some snakes will not eat previously killed animals, so know that you may have to feed the snake live animals. If the snake eats pre-killed animals, can you tolerate storing this in your refrigerator with your food?
- Do you have the space for a large tank if you have a snake that requires a large habitat? The tank must be escape-proof too!
- Snakes are cold-blooded animals. This means that they cannot tolerate cool temperatures and drafts. Some may require heat lamps. Will you have a space in your home that will be warm enough for the snake? Also keep in mind that some snakes will be fine with cooler temperatures. Research before you buy!
- Snakes require water at all times. They can become dehydrated very easily. Always keep a bowl of water in the tank.
- Finally, like all pets, snakes need veterinary care. Find out what local veterinarians treat snakes. Learn the signs of illness in snakes so that you can get your snake to the vet should it need care.
Once you’ve done your research, stop by the ARL to see if we have the snake for you!