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Home > Snakes > Can A Snake Be a Service Animal? Facts & FAQs

Can A Snake Be a Service Animal? Facts & FAQs

Common Water Snake

Service animals are working animals that perform some sort of task for their handler. They are different from emotional support animals, which, as the name suggests, provide emotional support rather than physical tasks.

Although many different types of animals can be trained to perform tasks and complete jobs and activities for their owners, only dogs are recognized as being service animals by the ADA. While snakes can make excellent therapy animals and emotional support animals, they cannot be considered service animals.

new snake dividerWhat Is a Service Animal?

A service animal is an animal that has been trained and usually certified to work with disabled people to complete certain tasks and roles. Under the current guidelines, only dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses, are recognized as being service animals.

Guide dogs are the best and most common example of service animals, assisting visually impaired owners with tasks ranging from walking around to daily jobs like assisting with washing and tidying. Service animals are also referred to as assistance animals, helper animals, or assist animals.

The Americans with Disabilities Act dictates that disabled people are allowed access to their service animals, except where there is deemed to be a legitimate safety concern. Most countries have similar acts and rules that allow access for this type of essential animal.

Snake Trained_ Light and Vision_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Light and Vision, Shutterstock

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are different from service animals. They can calm a person suffering from anxiety attacks or help control depression. They do not need any special training and are not required to perform any supporting or assistive tasks to be considered emotional support animals. Their presence is enough to provide emotional support.

Emotional support animals are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and businesses and individuals do not have to allow them on-premises with their owners. With that said, some businesses do allow these animals in as a matter of courtesy.

It is worth noting that some animals might be considered both emotional support animals and service animals. For example, if a dog can identify when a person is about to suffer an anxiety attack and then take some action to prevent that attack from occurring, they would be considered a service animal and would be afforded the rights set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

divider-snakeThe Benefits of Emotional Support Snakes

A snake cannot be a service animal because only dogs are permitted according to the law. This might change in the future, but it is still unlikely that snakes would be considered. They cannot be trained to perform a necessary task to benefit their owner.

However, emotional support snakes are real and are beneficial. Some benefits of having one include:

  • Easy to Control – The amount of training that can be given to a snake might be considered minimal compared to a Golden Retriever or other service dog, but they can be trained so that they are docile and tolerate being handled. Training a snake means teaching it that it does not need to fear people because it will not come under any kind of threat while being handled. Even with this training, a snake is not a sociable animal, and it will not pull or otherwise try to get to other people for attention.
  • Hypoallergenic – Dogs can cause allergic reactions in their handlers and in other people. They produce allergens in their fur, dander, and their saliva. Reptiles and snakes do not produce the same proteins and are believed to be hypoallergenic as a result. This means that a therapy snake will not cause other patrons or people to have an allergic reaction when they are present.
  • Easy Feeding Requirements – Dogs and most other animals require daily feeding or may need to be fed multiple times over a day. They also need to drink water. Snakes are more likely to feed weekly, and you can control when and what they eat. Even if your snake is hungry, it is unlikely to beg for food from other people or try and steal food from plates and hands.
garter snake being handled by a man
Image Credit: pixel1, Pixabay

What Types of Pet Can Be Service Animals?

Under current guidelines, dogs are the only type of animal that can be considered a service animal, with the exception of miniature horses, in some cases, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This may change in the future.

new snake dividerFinal Thoughts

Snakes cannot be considered service animals, although they can make effective therapy animals or emotional support animals. Emotional support animals do not need to be registered but they do not enjoy the same rights as service animals, either.

Featured Image Credit by Imageman, Shutterstock

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