Snakes in the…cupboard?!
A snake kept as a pet is nothing new to most people. I think it safe to say that everyone has known someone or at least of someone who has owned one. Snakes are still a mystery to humans though; there is not enough information about their habits and habitats in the wild to say with definitive confidence that we know everything we need to. Most people don’t want to know much about snakes. They are seen as evil or threatening creatures which should be cast out. This is potentially a hereditary trait passed on to us, or maybe a cultural disposition which is ingrained into our minds. There are those cultures which revere snakes and some ancient cultures worshiped them. Why people fear or like snakes is something for the sociologists to figure out. Almost all the care information available is opinion based. This leads to many people improperly keeping their pets and is why there are so many websites and books covering the same species. I know personally I have never studied the Royal/Ball Python Python regius in the wild and neither have any of the current authors that I know of. What we know is based on personal experiences of successful breeding that we’ve had over the years in captivity.
So how do we know what information is accurate and which to use? Well, the fact is research is your best friend when ever you decide to keep a new pet whether a reptile or a chinchilla you must do your research. The way I tell a person to research is to read everything you can get your hands on books, care sheets, and magazine articles. Now then when you have all this together use everything the pieces agree on and toss the rest out the window and I am sure you will have an accurate account of how to care for your new pet. It always surprises me; how many people think of reptiles in general as dumb animals. Reptiles are not dumb, especially lizards. No matter how much experience a person has in with reptiles we have all had at least one escape in our careers. So hearing news about snakes in the walls etc. is actually par for the course when people own snakes. Typically people who own snakes are more responsible but snakes are a determined and resourceful sort.
Now then I am going to give you a general checklist of what it takes to own any snake in captivity. Some snakes have very specific requirements so make sure and do your own research prior to the purchase of any animal.
1) I recommend a sliding top load enclosure with a pin which locks into place.
2) Water bowl large enough for the snake to submerge itself in.
3) An enclosure which will allow the snake to stretch out to its complete length around the perimeter of the enclosure and not have its tail touch its nose.
4) An Under Tank Heat Mat or Ceramic Heating Element on one side of the enclosure which will serve as the snakes basking area. Hot rocks are cheaper but they are known to malfunction
5) Two hides, this will throw off most people. The reason for two hides is that this enables the snake to choose whether it wants to be on the warm or cool side of the enclosure.
6) A piece of sand blasted grapevine. This gives the snake something to rub against when shedding. It can also provide them with a perch if they so choose to use it.
7) Substrate or bedding for the snake. One rule here. Don’t ever use cedar or any other aromatic wood chips of any kind in their enclosure. Stay away from anything aromatic in their enclosure to be safe. The oils of cedar and other aromatic wood chips are toxic to snakes.
Personally, I have had one escape during the decade that I have been keeping snakes. I awoke early as I do every morning for my job. As was the usual routine I went to the cupboard to get a cup for my usual cup of coffee. This time instead of a cup I picked up my Royal/Ball Python Python regius! She had escaped during the night due to my cat falling through the soft screen mesh during the night. I’m happy to report that neither the cat nor the snake was injured in the encounter. Do you have a snake escape story? Let us know in the comments field. By using the above as a personal checklist, you will have no issues keeping a snake as pet nor will you suddenly wake up with your pet in the bed or worse missing only to be discovered in the walls later.