What kind of snake is that

Keeping snakes as pets: a lot of work, little fun

If you want to hold a snake, you not only need a terrarium with floor heating, but also strong nerves.

  • © dpa
    Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) are more of the easy-care snakes. Since they are forest dwellers, they definitely need climbing opportunities in the terrarium.
  • © dpa
    Ball pythons (Python regius), here an albino form, grow to about two meters long and feed on small mammals and birds.
  • © dpa
    Boas are among the more active species of snake. Owners should therefore pay attention to a particularly large terrarium.
What the fluffy rabbit is to one person, the giant boa constrictor or the poisonous cobra is to another. When it comes to favorite animals, opinions differ. Keeping snakes is nowhere near as exotic as it was 20 years ago. The reptiles are not necessarily more demanding than other domestic animals. But if you want to keep them, you need some prior knowledge before buying.

Snakes are not only different in appearance

“You have to deal with their needs and offer them what they need,” explains veterinarian Markus Baur, head of the reptile sanctuary in Munich. Owners are not allowed to lump all snakes together. There are thousands of species that differ greatly not only visually: there are poisonous and non-poisonous, aggressive and calm, small and large.

Snakes: Needs depend on the living space

The animals come from different habitats - from the tropical rainforest to the polar desert. Thus they are used to different climatic zones and have completely different eating and behavioral habits. "Knowing and taking into account these species-specific characteristics is important so that a snake stays healthy and feels good," says Kornelis Biron, veterinarian for reptiles in Düsseldorf. There is no one correct snake pose, there are several variants.

Snakes belong in the terrarium

"A rainforest inhabitant like the green tree python or a food specialist like the tree sniffer are a lot more demanding than the very easy-care corn snake," says Biron. The following applies to all species: they belong in a terrarium. This can consist of full glass, wood or plastic. Windows and sliding doors should be made of glass and must not have any crevices - otherwise the snake will quickly find a new shelter.

Space requirement depends on the type of snake

On the one hand, the dimensions of the terrarium should take into account the size of the snake species. On the other hand, according to Baur, it is important how easy the species is to move about. Royal phythons are more like couch potatoes, while corn snakes and boas are very active and need a relatively large amount of space.

Transporting exotic pets properly

Exotic pets like reptiles are extremely sensitive to cold. Even a short time in the cold can cause a lot of damage to the animal. Transport in winter is very difficult. But there are ways to protect the animals. more

Snakes need a place to warm up

Light and heat sources are part of the basic equipment of every snake dwelling: "Since snakes are cold-blooded, they need a hot spot for sunbathing at 30 to 40 degrees during the day," explains Michael Millert, chairman of Terrarium-Freunde-Hamburg. Holders achieve this with a 60 watt reflector lamp. It is best attached in such a way that it illuminates a lying surface.

Underfloor heating in the terrarium

Snakes need additional light sources and, depending on the species, floor heating. In general, there should be both warm and cool zones in the terrarium so that the animals do not overheat. And since they become dehydrated if they are too dry, some areas must always be slightly damp. “For example, you can build a slip box for them. It's actually nothing more than a plastic jar with a lid and a hole that you fill with moistened moss, ”says Millert.

The terrarium's equipment is based on the living space

Hiding and retreating opportunities, as well as a water point for drinking and bathing, are also important. How best to design them depends on the type of snake and its natural habitat. A specimen that likes to swim a lot in the wild needs a watering hole. If, on the other hand, the animal appreciates the tightness of a termite or rodent den, it will be happy with a shelter. "You should also be inspired by nature when it comes to the substrate and the rest of the equipment in the terrarium," advises Baur. For example, a desert dweller like the sand boa needs a soft ground, while forest dwellers like corn snakes need climbing opportunities.

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Care costs are rather low for snakes

The maintenance effort is quite low with snakes. “It is important that you change the water regularly and remove excrement from the terrarium,” explains Millert. In addition, owners would have to make sure that the temperature and humidity meet the requirements of the reptiles. Once a year the terrarium has to be completely cleaned and the substrate replaced.

Snakes eat live food

Feeding, on the other hand, is trickier: it is necessary every one to two weeks for young animals and once a month for older animals. Snakes are carnivores and predators: they hunt live prey and are not always accustomed to dead food. This is why keepers have to resort to live food for better or worse: Corn snakes and boas eat small rodents, water snakes and fish. One advantage: owners can take their time until the next feeding. "Snakes digest very slowly and therefore rarely need food," explains Biron. If this is not taken into account, they can easily become fat.

Source: dpa

| Updated November 12, 2015

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