It is estimated that it takes about 135 million years on Earth and can be found in the wild on all continents (except Antarctica). Although it tends to instill respect and fear, in recent years the number of people choosing snakes as pets has increased considerably. But is it a good option to opt for a snake as a pet? There is no resounding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but vSeveral factors that must be taken into account before making the decision to take one of these animals home and adapt them to our way of life. Among them, the two most determining would be their longevity and character. We address them below.
On the one hand, it must be borne in mind that snakes are very long-lived animals, that well cared for can reach 30 years of age, therefore, if we dare to live with one, the commitment must go through offering them a long and dignified life. In addition, beyond the fascination that we can feel for its exoticism or beauty, it must be clear that the character of a snake is light years away from pets such as dogs or cats.
They are very calm animals that spend most of their time sleeping, they are not receptive to their owner’s treatment – so the affective or attachment relationship will be basically unidirectional-, they do not distinguish between the different members of the family, they do not usually tolerate being handled, much less pampering them and, of course, they must remain in a suitable terrarium to avoid putting them in danger if they escape from it and endanger, in turn, other domestic animals or children.
Therefore, if what we are mainly looking for is the contemplation of its beauty – without the need for affectionate ties to be created towards us-, its mere presence and we are committed to your consistent and meticulous long-term care, a snake can be a good choice as a pet.
What care does a snake need?
Although it is true that snakes offer some advantages to their owners – they do not need to be fed every day nor do they require large spaces to live – those who host one in their home must offer them various basic care and it is also advisable to familiarize themselves with the very particular needs and habits of these animals, which are far from those that can have a cat, a dog or a bird.
The snake should have at its disposal a large terrarium for its size and with good ventilation. In addition, it must have closures to prevent the animal from escaping. It is also very important to place this terrarium in a place in the house where the temperature is not lower than 25 degrees. Depending on the species we choose, we will condition the light and degree of humidity of this terrarium as well as its furniture and plants: branches or trunks if they are more arboreal or a cave to shelter if they are more desert.
It is also very important to keep the substrate of this terrarium in the best hygienic conditions and clean it minimal once or twice a week.
Food represents, without a doubt, one of the greatest singularities of these animals. Snakes are exclusively carnivorous and can only feed on other animals: worms, birds, fish, rats … Most of them eat once a week or every fortnight (depending on the species). It is recommended that they always have a container of clean, fresh water.
The prey that the snake eats can be given alive or dead (generally frozen) and must be purchased in specialized stores. From a nutritional point of view, live prey are the best but it is also true that not all people will have the stomach to carry out this practice. If you opt for dead and frozen prey, you will have to supplement the snake’s feeding with some vitamin complex.
It is essential to have the services of some veterinary clinic specialized in exotic animals. It is advisable to make a first visit when the animal arrives home for the first time and periodic reviews every year.
Some symptoms that could make us suspect that a snake is sick: it hides, it does not move in the same way as it always does or we may notice some strange changes in the skin.
Some basic recommendations
Neither poisonous nor large
Exotic animal experts strongly recommend not bringing home poisonous snake species or those that exceed two kilos in adult weight, which can become quite dangerous for inexperienced keepers.
Some ideal species to start can be the false corals, the royal python or the so-called cornfield snakes, which tend to have a more docile and calm character.
Beware of bites
Although the snake is not poisonous, you must be careful when handling it or giving it its food. They can all bite and this bite can be painful or infected.
A place of trust
It is also advisable to acquire them only in specialized stores or recognized breeders who comply with all legal requirements. It is necessary that any of them Provide the purchase invoice and the CITES number as a guarantee (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which regulates the international trade in exotic animals.