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How to Take Care of a Pet Snake (Care Sheet & Guide 2021)

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

Introduction

Long, slithery, and slender, pet snakes are exotic reptiles that require an experienced owner. While snakes aren’t cute and cuddly animals, they can make fantastic pets for the right person. Snakes can live for decades and require consistent care and attention. If you’re thinking about adding this fascinating pet to your household, here is everything you need to know about caring for a pet snake.

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Snake Facts

adder snake,Holm94, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Holm94, Shutterstock
  • Snakes can live for 20 or more years
  • Snakes are carnivores and dine on fish, rats, and other small prey animals
  • Snakes don’t have eyelids!
  • They can’t chew and swallow their meals whole
  • There are over 300 snake species
  • Snakes smell with their tongues
  • Over five million people own snakes

Are Snakes Good Pets?

While buying a snake may seem appealing, these animals don’t make good starter pets. Moreover, they aren’t suited for people seeking a social and loving companion. If you can’t stomach feeding your pet dead or live animals, a snake isn’t right for you.

However, for some people, snakes can make excellent pets. Snakes are often misunderstood and can be an amazing stress reliever for many folks. They do not require daily walks and are super quiet. In fact, their cages are extremely easy to clean.

Snakes can live for decades. This is why routine health visits with a qualified vet are a must. They also need temperatures of 80 to 85 degrees F to live comfortably.

If you’re not able to provide the proper health and environmental upkeep to your pet for many, many years, a snake may not be the right pet for you.

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Where Can I Get a Pet Snake?

Snake on wood_Praisaeng, shutterstock
Image Credit By: Praisaeng, shutterstock

You can buy a pet snake at a local pet store, a reptile pet store, or from a qualified and reputable exotic animal dealer or breeder. You can also visit a snake or reptile expo in your area to meet other snake enthusiasts and find more exotic types of snakes for sale.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Pet Snake?

Snakes aren’t cheap animals to buy or care for. If you are serious about owning a pet snake, you need to be ready and willing to spend the money that it needs to thrive.

A snake will cost around $75 or more for the animal itself. Some snake species can cost thousands of dollars., depending on their rarity. The price of snake care will vary depending upon the type of snake you choose to buy. For instance, owning a garter snake is a lot more affordable than owning a python. However, the general costs of snake ownership include:

  • $110 to $145 for supplies, including a tank, food and water bowls, a heater, lights, timers and gauges, hides, and décor.
  • $310 to $740 for annual expenses, including enclosure maintenance and upkeep.
  • $120 to $300 for annual healthcare needs, including checkups, and emergencies.
  • $120 to $240 for food.

The total annual costs for snake ownership will fall between $450 and $1,500.

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What Kind of Home Does My Pet Snake Need?

Snakes need large, clear terrariums that accommodate their size. A 20-gallon tank is good for a smaller-sized snake. The lid should be screened for ventilation. Snakes are amazing escape artists, so never forget to place a secure lid on top of the snake tank.

Line the bottom of the tank with dry leaves, sand, bark mulch, or newspaper so your pet snake can burrow and hide.

Snakes are cold-blooded animals and need a climate-controlled habitat in order to stay healthy and happy. An under-tank heating pad makes a good option for most snake owners. You can also opt for overhead bulbs. Whatever heating method you choose, be sure to monitor the tank temperatures carefully with gauges and thermometers.

You’ll also need to keep the tank humid. Low humidity will make it tough for your pet snake to shed its old, dead skin. Spray the interior of the tank with a mister every day. Large water bowls and moistened moss will also add humidity to the tank. Keep track of the humidity levels with a hygrometer.

Like you, snakes enjoy their privacy. Get your pet snake a cave or shelter where it can enjoy some alone time.

What Should I Feed My Pet Snake?

Snakes are carnivores, meaning that they only eat meat. Feeding will depend upon the type of snake you buy. For instance, some snakes will eat frozen baby mice while others will dine on large, live rats. Before you get a pet snake, do your homework on the specific needs of the breed you bring home.

All snakes need access to fresh, clean water. Keep a deep bowl of water in your snake’s cage. Change the water daily.

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How Do I Take Care of My Pet Snake?

snake_Karsten Paulick_Pixabay
Image Credit: Karsten Paulick, Pixabay

While snakes aren’t social or trainable critters the way dogs or cats are, you should make it a point to interact with yours every day. You can allow your pet snake to drape over your shoulders, coil around your arm, or explore a large, empty room in your home. Don’t ever allow a loose snake to be unsupervised. Never allow your pet snake to interact with other pets, especially tiny animals.

Never handle your snake right after it ate.

If your children are handling your pet snake, keep a close eye on them. Teach them how to properly and gently hold and handle the reptile.

How Do I Know If My Pet Snake Is Sick?

To keep your pet snake healthy, it’s essential that you schedule a wellness appointment with a qualified exotic animal vet every six months.

Though snakes in captivity will thrive for many years, they can suffer from some health issues. The most common is the failure to eat or thrive. This is generally caused by stress, such as the snake’s tank being at an improper temperature.

Snakes can also develop swollen jaws, blisters, burns, abscesses, swollen or cloudy eyes, and discolored patches. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a vet appointment right away.

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Conclusion

Pet snakes are best suited for experienced owners. They need the proper tank and temperature conditions in order to flourish. If you get sick when thinking about feeding one kind of animal to another, a snake isn’t the right pet for you. Moreover, if you want a social, cuddly pet, don’t get a pet snake.

If you have the experience, dedication, and proper education, a pet snake can make the perfect pet for you.


Featured Image Credit: Jarkko Mänty, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.