July 16th is World Snake Day so I thought I would ask my friend Shannon to spread a little snake 411 and love. She is my go to on all things snake.
There are few creatures more misunderstood than snakes. They are often universally feared and maligned. While it is natural to fear something that can potentially cause harm to people, most do not know how beneficial and diverse snakes are or how to tell the venomous ones from non-venomous ones.
Most snakes are more afraid of people than people are of them. This means that they tend to hide and typically any bite would be defensive in nature. There are about 3,580 known species of snakes, ranging from the tundra to jungles to the ocean. The majority of snake species are non-venomous and essentially harmless to humans and common pets.
Snakes are highly effective predators that play a significant role in maintaining ecological balance by keeping down the population of rodents, ticks, and other pests. They also contribute to the modern medical field. Snake venom was used in the development of medications created to treat heart attacks, blood clots and disorders, high blood pressure, strokes, kidney disease, brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and various pain disorders. Scientists are studying its potential use in cancer and pain killing treatments.
Snakes as pets
Snakes are not the most exciting choice of pets but are easy to care for with the proper habitats. They do not need or thrive on a lot of handling and affection and are relatively low-maintenance. Most snakes are not aggressive unless they are in feeding mode or need to defend themselves.
Each species will have its own heat and humidity requirements and the key to a healthy snake is maintaining these specific parameters. Snakes rely on their environment to regulate their body temperatures and aid digestion. Most habitats will have a warm side, a cool side, and an ambient (air/environment) temperature. They need a secure habitat with locks or a latching door and a reliable heat source on a thermostat. Heat sources can range from heating pads to heat tape to radiant heat panels. They also need proper humidity, which varies greatly based on species. An appropriately sized water bowl can help you achieve that.
Snakes love to remain unseen and need a designated place to hide on both the cool and the warm side. It helps if they are identical hides so that the snake does not choose one favorite place and fail to regulate its body temperature. Each species will have different feeding needs but most common pet snakes will eat rodents. They can be fed live or frozen and thawed. Young snakes will eat more regularly but adults often eat anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending on species and size.
Snakes shed their skin a few times a year and an intact shed is a sign that they are healthy. If there is shed stuck on the snake something is wrong with their environment or health and the owner will need to adjust accordingly.
Snakes can be wonderful pets for the right owner. They do not demand too much time or effort but are fascinating to watch and interact with. Much like dogs and cats, there are many species to choose from that range in size and temperament. With a little research and an open mind, you can discover more about these ancient, fascinating creatures.
So if you think a snake is in your future, be sure to do your research, go to one of the reptile conventions and ask questions and learn more.