When you first start out learning how to look after a pet snake you find out that there is a lot to learn, but you quickly realize that most of it just makes common sense when it comes to properly caring for your pet snake health and wellbeing.
The fundamental things to be aware of are what does a snake eat, how much and how often, and what kind of snake cage and environmental conditions does it require. And making sure that you are providing clean and hygienic living conditions suited to the needs of your pet snake to keep it healthy and happy in your care.
In here I list ten of the basic pet snake health tips that you need to know:
1. Select a Healthy Snake to Adopt
When choosing a snake, get one that is well fleshed with clear eyes, no cuts, no mites or ticks, and is alert. The snake should appear curious and grip you firmly but gently when you handle it.
You should be there when the snakes are fed so that you can observe them and make sure that the snakes you are picking from are all eating well.
Captive bred snakes are more suited for pets than buying a wild born snake. Snakes born in the wild are normally very stressed from the capture process and the transportation to the pet supplier. Wild snakes are also likely to have a large parasite load.
2. Get the Right Size Cage for Your Breed of Snake
Your enclosure should normally be about two-thirds the size of its body length. If your snake is six feet long, then the cage should be at least four feet long.
You can always make the enclosure longer than the snake but your snake will be comfortable in a smaller cage then the length of your snake.
Remember to upgrade the enclosure as your snake grows as it needs to increase in size in relation to the snake body length.
3. Keep the Snake Enclosure Humid
Snakes are sensitive to temperature and humidity factors, and you should always ensure their enclosure is kept at the right temperature. Check a reliable snake pet book to learn what the optimal conditions are for your breed of snake.
4. Keep the Feeding of Your Snake Simple Safe and Hygienic
When you buy your snake you need to first be sure to select a pet snake that will happily eat thawed rodents (that you buy frozen from the pet store) and are not overly fussy in their feeding requirements.
Feeding your snake live rodents, even small mice, can hurt your snake – and it is NOT entertainment for an audience of your friends, so don’t do it.
The dead animal for feeding should not be wider than the snake’s own head. Snakes do not eat very often and you can stock the pre-killed and frozen mice in your freezer.
5. Learn how Much and how Often to Feed Your Snake
Get expert advice on the amount and kind of food is optimal for your pet snake and the frequency of feeding.
Snakes may eat almost anything that’s fed to them and they will usually regurgitate the meal after a day or two if they have been overfed.
6. Make Sure Your Snake Cage is Secure
The snake cage, terrarium, enclosure etc should always be well planned and ventilated, but also thoroughly secured to prevent the snake escaping
Breeds such as corn snakes can be excellent escape artists and you can lose your pet snake very quickly if you are not careful.
They will even push at the enclosure lid with their noses to look for any weaknesses in the cage or doorways.
7. Keep a Constant Supply of Fresh Water.
Snakes defecate in water and also soak themselves especially before shedding.
You need to make sure to check the water regularly and replace it with clean water as soon as there are signs of pollution in it.
Buy a heavy dish or container so that it won’t be tipped over when the snake slides around in it.
It is good to place several water dishes in the snake cage which also help to establish the proper humidity for the snake.
8. Create Hiding Places for Your Snake To Feel Secure.
Hiding places should be placed in both the warm and cool ends of the enclosure.
Pieces of bark with hollow areas or curved shape to make a ‘cave’ are good to use for snake hiding spots if placed on a substrate that lets the snakes burrow underneath them.
You can get a big variety of snake caves and wooden structures for snakes to hide in from pet shops and online at Amazon. These are also usually easy to keep clean and hygienic as well.
Add some smooth tree branches as well for the snake to climb and coil onto. You can get these online as well.
9. Provide a range of temperatures in the cage
Your snake needs to be able to find a variety of locations for both heat and cool as it may need during the different times of the day.
Since it can’t travel around a garden to find its ideal temperature for any given time, like a rock to sleep on top of for warm sunlight, or underneath it for coolness, you need to make sure you offer some variety of temperatures inside the enclosure for it to select from.
One end of the enclosure should be cooler and the temperature ideally should gradually warm up more towards the other end of the cage.
You can get a full-spectrum incandescent light to sit above the enclosure that can provide some heat as well as serve as a sunny basking spot.
10. Use appropriate bedding for the snake cage
Newspaper is good to use as a substrate. It is very cheap and is replaced easily as soon as it becomes soiled. Astroturf is also a good alternative that you can buy online.
Astroturf can be cleaned, dried and reused several times before it wears out. Soak the soiled turf in one gallon of water that you add 2 tablespoons of bleach to, then wash well, rinse it in clean water and dry it well before you put it back in the cage.
Snakes will live long and healthy lives as long as you learn how to look after a pet snake and provide them their basic needs and avoid over-feeding them.