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How many snakes do you own?

None :< 0.51264367816092 51.3% [ 223 ]
One! :3 0.1448275862069 14.5% [ 63 ]
Two! :D 0.096551724137931 9.7% [ 42 ]
Three! :O 0.082758620689655 8.3% [ 36 ]
EVEN MOAR! >:D 0.1632183908046 16.3% [ 71 ]
Total Votes:[ 435 ]
1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 138 139 140 > >> >>> »|
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Snakes -- Information & Appreciation

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I figured it was about time to make a thread for these awesome little guys.

This thread is for discussion, debate, advice, pictures, and anything else to do with snakes!

I am not a licensed veterinarian, so please be advised that any advice you receive in this thread from myself
(or others) should only be followed at your own discretion.
I do keep and breed snakes, so I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

Please respect the Gaia Online Rules & Guidelines as well as the Terms of Service in this thread.

Please also respect the following rules:

1) This thread is NOT for posting about how you hate or are scared of snakes.
2) This thread is NOT for posting offers to buy or sell animals.
3) This thread is NOT for posting about anything other than snakes.
4) Don't quote the first page.

If you need help from me as a moderator, please PM me. DO NOT post in this thread for help with Gaia-related issues.

Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Meet the Snakes!

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Charlotte & Sassy - Spider Ball Pythons

I have a confession... I LOVE spider morphs. Spiders, Lesser Bees, Bumblebees, Queen Bees,
Honeybees, Spieds, and the MANY other combinations out there. Charlotte is gorgeous, but
is also a picky eater. Sassy is tiny but also very angry.

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Spot - Leopard Ball Python

I'll never know why I got so lucky with Spot. Spot is a leopard ball python, and Spot also
has what's known as a "ringer" (a pale or white band near her tail). I overheard somebody
at a show raving about this beautiful snake, but they didn't buy her. When I was able to
see her, I knew I had to have her. I purchased Spot from a local breeder in Texas a few years ago.

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Fabio - Pastel Butter Ball Python

Fabio is a really nice example of a pastel butter ball python. He is currently breeding with
Spot and Charlotte. I paid a bit more than average market price for him, but he was worth it.
With snake breeding, I wholeheartedly believe that some extra cash invested will always pan
out in the end when you produce beautiful, above average babies.

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Java - Mojave Ball Python

Java is a nice reduced pattern female mojave ball python. The mojave gene has a lot of
potential as an incomplete dominant gene. When combined with another mojave, a pure
white snake with blue eyes can be hatched. When combined with the special gene,
a pale gold snake with blue/green eyes is possible. I won Java in an auction online.

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Buttercup - Pastel Ball Python

Buttercup is THE example of selective breeding in ball pythons. As a single gene pastel,
she constantly blows people away with how clean and bright she is.
The pastel gene is often taken for granted by breeders, and muddy orange animals
are often purchased and bred. When you use the very best animals for your breeding
projects, the results will always be worth it. Buttercup is proof of that. As common as
pastels are, there is a waiting list a mile long for her future babies.

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Sexual Bread - Special Ball Python

There's a long story behind Bread's name. Don't ask, but it has something to do with this video.
Bread is a male special. The special gene is extremely subtle, but can easily be
differentiated from a normal with practice. Some markers to look for
are a brighter more orange/red coloration, lots of flames, thick white borders around
the flames, and sometimes small granite-like speckles can be seen on the sides as well.
Some specials will also have a pale head or head stamp. Bread will be breeding with
Spot next year to kick off my crystal leopard project.

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Mojo - Hypo Jungle het Albino Boa Constrictor

Mojo is a hypo jungle boa constrictor that also carries one copy of the albino gene
(he is not a visual albino like Dolly because it takes two copies of the albino gene for the
trait to be visible). I plan on breeding him to Dolly in another year, once they are both older
and larger. Boa constrictors take longer than ball pythons to reach sexual maturity,
and are significantly larger as well. Despite this, they generally have docile, friendly
dispositions, and make good pets for people who are comfortable with large snakes.

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Carmilla - T+ Albino Blood Python (Tomato Bomb Line)

Carmilla joined the family in December of 2013. She is a big beautiful blood python female.
There are a few different types of albinism in snakes, and Carmilla is what's known as a
t-positive albino. This means that she produces tyrosinase, which helps produce melanin
(dark pigment). Because she is a t+ albino she has no black on her body, but does have
some gray and lavender color. The t-negative albinos produce no tyrosinase, which means
they do not produce melanin.
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Before You Buy

When adopting a pet snake, there are a variety of things you want to consider:

1) Does the place you live in allow snakes?
Many apartments and landlords are not comfortable with exotic pets. Make sure you find out first, because a lease violation can end up with you losing your home, as well as your new pet. Sometimes you can reach an agreement with whoever owns your property, then everyone is happy!

2) Are you comfortable feeding dead (or live) animals to a snake?
Most commonly kept species of snakes eat rodents- that means you will be feeding them mice and/or rats.

3) Are you aware that snakes can live a very long time?
Depending on the species, snakes can live up to 50 years in captivity! That's not the average, but a properly cared for snake will almost certainly outlive a cat or dog.

4) Can you provide a proper habitat for your snake?

All snakes require some of the same basic things- food, water, and a place to hide. Depending on the species, many snakes require that you monitor humidity in the cage, as well as provide a temperature gradient (warm end and cool end) in the cage.

5) Do you have adequate space for your snake?
The most commonly kept snakes, such as corn snakes and ball pythons, will average between 3 and 5 feet as adults. That's easy enough, but if you want something larger like a boa constrictor, be prepared to offer a cage that's big enough for your pet. The smallest boa constrictors will need a cage that is at least 4 feet long and 2 feet deep. Reticulated and Burmese pythons have even larger space requirements.

6) Is your snake legal in your state and city?
Believe it or not, many people buy and sell snakes that are NOT LEGAL to own in specific states. Please ensure that you check your local laws before purchasing an exotic pet. Most of the time you can pay a small fee and acquire a license for any restricted exotics.

7) What kind of personality do you want your snake to have?

That's right, snakes DO have personalities! Are you looking for a more energetic snake or a calm snake? Do you want a snake that's friendly and likes being held, or a snake that you can observe from a distance? Take a moment to consider the different species before you commit to buying a snake, otherwise you may be setting yourself up for a pet that you don't enjoy having.

If you do your research BEFORE you buy, you will end up with a snake that you will enjoy keeping for years to come.
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Choosing Your Snake

1) Personality!
Are you interested in a snake that loves being out and about? A snake that likes climbing and exploring while you hold it? If so, you might want to consider a corn snake. Corn snakes are outgoing, high energy snakes that love checking out whatever is going on.

Or would you prefer a snake that is more mellow, that would like to sit on your neck or in your lap while you're at the computer? A ball python might be the choice for you, then. Ball pythons are introverted, shy animals that move slowly and curl up into a ball when frightened.

Maybe you are looking for a snake that's somewhat in between? A snake that is friendly and curious, but not quite as energetic as a corn snake. If so, a boa constrictor might be just the pet for you. While boa constrictors can get to be quite large, there are several species that stay a smaller, more manageable size. Boas are curious snakes that love being held and hate being put back in their cages!

2) Appearance!
Would you like a snake that is thin and long, or a snake that has a heavy body? Do you want a bright, colorful snake, or a snake that is more of a natural color?

Corn snakes come in a wide variety of colors. They start off as very plain looking babies that then grow into beautiful adults. They grow to be about 4 feet long as adults, and have thin bodies that help keep them easy to handle despite their length. If you like snakes that are intense red, orange, or yellow, a corn snake might be what you're looking for.

Ball pythons come in just as wide a variety of colors as corn snakes, though their color tends to be more muted. Ball pythons start off as very colorful babies that fade as they get older. Ball pythons also grow to be about 4 feet long, but their thicker bodies make them feel like a "bigger" snake than a corn.

Boa constrictors come in a fairly limited selection of colors and patterns. They start off more intensely colored as babies, and their colors fade and blend together with age. Boa constrictors are a good choice if you want a natural looking snake that isn't too flashy. Boa constrictors grow to be anywhere from 5 to 10 feet long depending on the species and gender, and have thick bodies like a ball python.

3) Health!
Most importantly, make sure that the snake you choose is HEALTHY! A veterinary bill can be costly, and losing a pet to illness or disease is always hard.

A healthy snake will actively flick its tongue when you pick it up, and appear to show interest in its surroundings. The vent (located on the underside near the end of the tail) should be clean, and there should be no stuck shed anywhere on the snake. The eyes should be clear and alert, and the mouth should be clean and pink with no unusual spots or colors.

If you buy in person, take a look at the other snakes this person owns to get a good idea of how well they take care of their animals. If you buy online, check their reputation on faunaclassifieds.com to see how other people rated their transaction (it's not a bad idea to check online even if you buy in person).
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Getting Started

(See "Snake Habitats" for more detailed information)

For a snake you will need the following:

1) An enclosure that is appropriately sized for your snake. The general rule is that it should be as long as 2/3 of your snake's body, but some species need more space, while others do well in smaller spaces. An enclosure can be a glass tank, a rubbermaid tub, a snake rack, or a custom cage made out of plexiglass and other materials. Anything that prevents the snake from escaping and gives it enough space is an enclosure.

2) An under-tank heating pad, heat tape, or a ceramic heat emitter/radiant heat panel. Some snakes do well with belly heat, while others do best with a heat lamp or heat emitter that radiates heat from above. Regardless of what your snake prefers, NEVER use heat rocks, as they can cause burns to any species. Always use a thermostat to regulate the temperature of your heating element. Snakes can suffer SEVERE burns from unregulated heat pads/lamps!

3) At least 2 hides, one on the cool end of the cage, one on the warm end. If you want to save money, things like empty tissue boxes or cleaned out sour cream containers with a hole in the lid can be a good hide. Make sure there are no sharp edges!

4) A good sized water dish. Metal dog dishes make great snake water dishes. The metal helps keep water cool and is easy to keep clean. Make sure it's big enough for the snake to submerge in, but not TOO big. Water dishes should be heavy enough that the snake won't tip it over.

5) Substrate (bottom of the tank stuff). Use one of the following:

a) Eco Earth.
Recommended because it holds moisture well for semi-tropical snakes like ball pythons and boas.

b) Aspen Shavings.
Recommended because it's fairly easy to keep clean, is affordable, and safe. A good option for most colubrids, but can be used with any snake.

c) Newspaper and/or Paper Towels.
Recommended because it's cheap and easy to clean when it gets dirty.

Do NOT use aquarium gravel or ANYTHING you get from outside. Aquarium gravel does not transmit heat well and is difficult to clean, and outdoor dirt/sand can contain parasites. In general sand is not a good substrate except for a few desert species of snakes.

6) Food. Most snakes will eat rodents, although a few like hognoses prefer amphibians. Most snakes will eat frozen/thawed rodents, but some might be stubborn and only eat live animals. If you feed frozen/thawed, make sure the rodent is warm throughout, and there are no cold spots that could hinder digestion.

7) Your new snake. See "Choosing Your Snake" for details.
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Snake Q&A

(If the Care section is a bit intimidating to you....)

I want a snake! Where should I get one?

The simple answer is: from a reputable breeder (either online, or locally).
This means....
Not from a pet store (Unless they stock captive bred animals. Not captive HATCHED, but captive BRED.) Most chain pet stores will not have the snake you want (a healthy, well-adjusted animal that was bred in captivity).

Kingsnake.com and faunaclassifieds.com are both good sites for finding snake breeders.

How much does it cost?

It depends on the species, as well as the color and gender of the snake. Special colors cost more, and usually females are more expensive than males (but not always). I highly recommend doing your own research before buying, to make sure the price is fair.

Do they bite? Are they poisonous?
Most popular pet snakes (corn snakes, ball pythons, boa constrictors) do not typically bite. Any snake will bite if it feels threatened and there is no other option. You can keep venomous snakes as pets, but you must obtain a license first. If you're getting your information from this thread, you probably aren't ready for a venomous snake.

I heard that snakes carry salmonella. Is that true?

Yup. Not all snakes carry it, but you should always assume that the risk is there. Always wash your hands before and after handling any snake, to prevent infection to the snake and to you. Pregnant women and children under 5 should not handle reptiles.

How can I tell if my snake is healthy/sick?

There are two things you should be paying MASSIVE attention to as you care for your snake. The first is shedding. If the snake is not shedding in one piece and/or has other issues with shedding, something might be wrong. The second is eating. If the snake deviates from its usual eating habits, something might be wrong.

Healthy snakes will shed in one piece without much difficulty, and will not refuse food if they are hungry, or vomit after eating. Vomiting is a good sign that something is wrong either with your snake or its environment.
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Snake Feeding

Allow your snake to acclimate to its new home for at least 5 days. Feeding before your snake has had a chance to get used to its new home can cause your snake to refuse to eat, or to regurgitate its meal.

The prey animal should be the same width as the snake is at its thickest point. Don't be deceived by slender necks and small heads.

Mostly commonly kept species feed on rodents, though others may eat lizards or frogs. Some will even eat other snakes, which is one reason why you should always keep snakes individually outside of breeding.

If you are feeding a frozen rodent, ensure that it reaches a warm temperature and is FULLY thawed before offering it to your snake. Check the skull and midsection of the rodent to ensure there are no cold spots. Offer frozen or prekilled rodents by grasping the tail or the scruff of the neck with a pair of hemostats, and dangling the prey in front of the snake. This helps prevent you from being bitten, while stimulating a snake's hunting instinct.

If you are feeding a live rodent, you must supervise the feeding. A live rodent can do incredible amounts of damage to a snake, and it is not unheard of for a hungry rodent to chew and eat the skin from a snake, or to attack it and inflict deep gashes and wounds that can require stitches or surgery. In the worst case, a rodent attack can cause your snake to die.
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Health Concerns

(The following is taken from http://www.kingsnake.com/ballpythonguide/ - formatted for space and ease of reading.)

Assuming you are providing a good environment for your snake and it's eating, it will also be expelling waste and shedding. How often your snake sheds and defecates is dependant upon how often it's eating and it's metabolism.

A young snake that's growing may shed and/or defecate as often as every four to six weeks. Older snakes which aren't growing as much may only shed a few times a year. If you are worried that your snake is constipated, usually a luke warm/cool bath in an inch or two of water seems to loosen things up.

Ideally your snake should be able to shed in one full piece, which comes off inside out, like when you pull off your sock. If your snake doesn't happen to get it off in one piece, that's a sign that you are not providing exactly the right environment.

It may be too dry in the tank, or your snake may be a little dehydrated. The two problem areas you should watch out for, if it didn't slough in a single piece, are around the eyes, and the tip of the tail.

If the eye caps did not shed off, your snakes eye(s) will have a foggy silver look to them. To help the snake shed off those last few bits of skin, you can try soaking it in a luke warm/cool bath for a half hour or so. Then gently dabbing it with a warm damp cloth. Placing the snake in a damp cloth bag for awhile sometimes helps also. Some people have had luck dabbing the eye's with a cotton swab that's been moistened with baby oil.

If you cannot get the eye cap(s) off, I wouldn't worry too much, and pay extra attention to the humidity level and the hydration of the snake through it's next shed cycle. Most likely the eye caps will come off with the following slough. If after two shed cycles, the eye caps are still intact, a trip to the vet may be called for.

Parasites may sometimes factor into a bad shed cycle.

Ticks and Mites are the two most common ectoparasites× you will find. If you suspect your snake is wild caught, or unhealthy, a veterinarian will be able to identify internal parasites by looking at a fecal (poop) sample under a microscope.

A tick is about the size of a zero "O", and a mite is about as big as the period at the end of this sentence.

Typically a snake will get parasites either from the wild, from the pet store, occasionally from being outdoors, or occasionally from the rodents that you are feeding your snake.

Ticks can be pulled off with tweezers. You may want to dab some antiseptic (neosporin) on the area to help guard against infection.

Mites on the other hand are a little more difficult to get rid of. I have had luck with a product called Pro Zap. Although I haven't used it, Provent-a-Mite from Pro Products (off site) is also supposed to be effective. It's best to talk to your veterinarian about the proper use of these items and/or suggestions on other products to use.

Other ailments which commonly affect, mostly imported, Ball Pythons are mouth rot, blister disease, and respiratory infections.

If you suspect your snake is ill, increase the heat a few degrees and get it to a qualified herptile veterinarian. Your local herpetological society or pet store should be able to help you find a good doctor.

Mouth Rot is an infection within the snake's mouth. If you are seeing a white cottage cheese like material in the snake's mouth, chances are your snake needs treatment.

Signs of a respiratory infection are: open mouthed breathing, wheezing or popping when the snake breaths, and/or clear fluid coming out of the snakes nostrils or mouth.

Blister disease is usually a direct result of the snake being kept in poor conditions. Lowered, or no heat, combined with a damp dirty cage and possibly ectoparasites can lead to blister disease. The snake will have red sores or blisters usually on it's belly or lower sides, but occasionally they appear on the back.

Again, if you suspect that you have an unhealthy snake, a trip to the veterinarian should be in order.

An important part of keeping your snake healthy is keeping it warm and clean. I like to use baby wipes to spot clean and pick up feces. A few times a year, I break down the cages and scrub them with soapy water. A solution of 10-15% bleach and 85-90% water can be used to disinfect the cage.

Snake are like potato chips, you can't stop with just one... At least I couldn't.

Once you do get another snake you need to quarantine× it from your other snake(s) for a couple of months. The new snake may be diseased or parasitized and you wouldn't want it to infect your healthy animals.

Once you quarantine, it's OK to put snakes in the same cage assuming: they are of the same species (Ball Python, Python regius), they are similar sized, and the cage provides ample room and hide boxes.

(Note from Scarbi: Don't do this. Having more than one snake in an enclosure is just a stupid thing to do. It makes it near impossible to monitor things like feces and/or parasites, which is an important part of keeping your snake healthy. If you feed your snakes in their cages, it can also provoke an aggressive response from one or both snakes. Always keep every species of snake in its own separate enclosure. Never ever keep your snakes more than one to a cage.)

I strongly caution against putting other types of snake together in the same cage. Other species snakes may have care requirements and different types of disease/infection that your Ball Python's immune system cannot handle. You will want to separate them at feeding time. And you may notice that they will not eat unless housed individually.

One aspect of keeping snakes which is easy to over look is record keeping.

Just keep simple notes on when they eat or refuse. What type of rodent they ate, and whether they needed to be in a hide box to feel secure and eat. Was the rodent live, fresh killed, thawed?

When they shed is also worth keeping. Once you get a few months or years of notes, some patterns may evolve, and you will recognize that your snake may not eat at certain times (like right before or after a shed cycle).

It's also helpful if/when you go to the veterinarian. For the few minutes it takes, it will teach you a lot about your snake. Here is a rough example of a page from my record book. Feel free to print it and use it for yourself. (http://www.kingsnake.com/ballpythonguide/journal.htm)
Scarbi's avatar

Newbie Noob

Snake Habitats

Selecting an escape-proof enclosure
A popular choice for keeping snakes is a glass aquarium with a screen top. Make sure that any cage you choose has a locking lid, as snakes can be very persistent when trying to escape, and are stronger than they look! For glass aquariums, screen clamps can be purchased to ensure that the lid cannot be pushed open by a determined snake. Other types of cages include single piece molded plastic cages that can be purchased online. These types of cages are pretty fancy, and often include sliding glass doors that lock, and light fixture for optimum display conditions. These types of cages are often purchased for larger snakes, and venomous species. A third type of cage is the good old homemade cage. These cages range from the extremely simple plastic sterilite bin to fancy cages made of pre-cut glass and wood. See the "Building a Cage" post for more details on making your own cage.

Select a suitable substrate
I prefer to use paper towels with every brand new snake. This allows me to monitor things like mites (I do know people who have gotten snakes that appeared totally clean, only to have mite eggs, which are invisible to the eye, hatch overnight), and to monitor feces and urates for any abnormalities. After the quarantine period (see the "Quarantine! Why you NEED to do this!" post), I will move the snake onto a species-appropriate substrate. Most colubrids (corn snakes, for example) will do well on aspen. If your snake is a tropical or semi-tropical species, you may want to use eco earth, and keep it moist to help prevent your snake from become dehydrated. Let the eco earth dry out completely once a week to prevent bacteria growth. Never use cedar, as it causes respiratory problems in MOST animals, including snakes!

Provide a hiding place
A half-log is available at pet stores. An empty cardboard box or upside-down opaque plastic container, both with an access doorway cut into one end, can also be used. The plastic is easily cleaned when necessary; the box can be tossed out when soiled and replaced with a new one. The box or log must be big enough for the snake to hide its entire body inside; you will need to eventually replace it as your snake grows. On that note, make sure the hide isn't TOO big, as snakes prefer a hiding spot that they fit snugly into. Place a nice climbing branch or two in the tank with some fake greenery screening part of it; your snake will enjoy hanging out in the "tree."

Keeping it warm
Proper temperature range is essential to keeping your snake healthy. Every species has different requirements, so it's important to research and understand why temperatures will help your snake to thrive. There are two temperatures you need to worry about: ambient air (temperature of the room), and the hot spot. A hot spot can be achieved by using an undertank heating pad or a radiant heat panel. Heat lamps are an option, but are not recommended for any tropical species, as they suck humidity out of the air. NEVER use a heat rock. ALWAYS use a thermostat to control the temperature of your heating device. Without any way to control the heat, temperatures can rise dangerously and cause fatal burns to any snake.

I cannot stress enough the importance of humidity for tropical and semi-tropical snakes. So many people underestimate how much their snake really needs in order to be healthy. Proper humidity is essential. If your snake is not shedding in a single piece, the culprit is almost always a lack of humidity. It is NOT normal for a snake to shed their skin in more than one piece. Some ways to increase humidity are: Switching to a substrate like eco earth that holds moisture better, misting the enclosure daily, placing a damp sponge in the enclosure, and increasing the size of the water dish.

None of the commonly kept species of snake have special lighting requirements. Many owners choose to use a light for better display/viewing of the animal, but it is not necessary for the health of your snake.

Fresh water should be available at all times. These means that you will need to wash out the water dish and replace the water at least 3 times a week, or more often depending on how often the water is soiled. Make sure to wash the bowl with a sponge every time to help remove the slime that can build up. You do not need to use any special product for removing chlorine from the water. Chlorine evaporates quickly, and most keepers use tap water without any trouble. If you have poor quality tap water, you may want to consider using bottled water for your snake instead. The water dish should be large enough for the snake to fit its entire body, but not so large that a smaller snake could be in danger of drowning.
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