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Reptile Center

Preparing for Your First Pet Snake


Snake Bytes: Tips on Getting Your First Snake 


So you’ve decided you want a pet snake. Great! They make fantastic pets. But before you rush off to get one, sit down and have a bit of a read first. PetMD has a few tips to help you on your way.


#1 Choose a good starter snake. You might think any old snake will do, but you would be wrong. Many experts would recommend the corn snake, ball python, and king snake for beginners.


#2 Know the risks. We’re not just talking bites here (though the risk is small, accidents can happen). Snakes, like all reptiles, carry Salmonella, which can leave you feeling quite ill (it’s not a good idea to have a snake with kids under five because of this). If you have children in the house, make sure they learn to wash their hands after handling the snake. And you? Wash your hands, too!


#3 Understand what snakes like. Snakes are, by nature, solitary creatures. They most definitely do not enjoy crowds or loud noises, so you can just forget about taking them to see the latest Britney Spears concert. And because of this solitary nature, it’s best to just have one snake. Try to keep the snake handling to a minimum, as most snakes aren't the touchy-feely type. However, you do need to handle your snake for about five minutes a day so it is accustomed to human contact. They also love consistency and routine (who knew?), so stick to the same routine for feeding, changing of water, and cleaning the tank.


#4 The right environment is key. Now this doesn't mean you have to grab some dirt, water, and flora from the tropical rainforests of South America, but you do need to create the right environment for your pet snake to live and thrive in. This means maintaining the temperature and humidity at the proper levels. A good way to do this is to fit the tank with a thermometer and gauge. A heat lamp is an excellent heat source, but only use this for half the tank, as your snake likes having a cool retreat to hang out in from time to time, too. Heat rocks look nice, but in reality they are not safe for a snake's sensitive skin. A plant placed cleverly inside the tank, along with an extra water bowl under the lamp, can also help you reach the desired level of humidity. But if you live in a dry environment, you may want to place a humidifier near (not in) the tank.


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