Owning an exotic pet is exciting and different from the normal everyday pets you see like a dog or a cat. I was a proud owner of a ball python that I named Sage. He was a great pet and eventually I had to find him a new home because of different reasons. I have even been asked questions and advice on owning a snake which brings me to this article. I took a lot of time to research and decide if owning a snake was a good option for me. Here are some questions I recommend before taking on the responsibility of owning a snake.
What kind of snake?
Do your research and ask around.
This was a hard question for me but lucky I had friends who were proud snake owners themselves and they gave me their opinions. I kept getting recommended ball pythons so I began researching them on the internet. I read blogs, websites, and even went to pet stores where they recommended them to me as well. I bought a few books and eventually was sold on the idea of getting a ball python for a few reasons.
- The size was very important because they averaged around 5-6 feet and I didn't want a huge snake. Huge snakes are too intimidating for me.
- I liked the fact that they would ball up if they are scared. It was cute!
- I loved the earthy colors.
- They are easy to care for as long as you maintain the correct temperature, humidity, and proper feeding.
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Can you feed them live animals?
Sometimes frozen isn't an option.
My friends loved to watch my snake devour a mouse but there is always one person that can't handle watching it. I was used to it because I had friends with pet snakes already and some snakes want live food. Snakes are cold-blooded so the appeal of live prey with warm body heat is quite tasty for them.
If this fact makes you uncomfortable or even guilty, I would reconsider getting a snake because you won't always find a snake that eats frozen mice. Snakes can be picky eaters and live prey is always a better option if you were to get a picky snake. Giving them live prey is closer to how they naturally eat in the wild than frozen mice.
BEWARE: Larger snakes, like a Burmese python, can eat rabbits and pigs so that is why size is important too. The bigger the snake, the big the food you have to give them - so be careful not to get in over your head.
If you do use frozen mice I would use these.
Makes feeding the snake easier and you don't have to touch the mice.
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Can you enjoy the snake for what it is?
A popular question I was asked was if I ever got bitten by Sage and luckily my answer was and still is no.
I was always very careful about when I played with Sage, keeping with a routine, and respecting the fact he was a snake. The possibility was always there because mistakes happen and if he confused my hand for food - I was aware of the risk and I took it anyway. I was prepared if it were to happen because of all the research I had done but I was lucky that situation never happened.
Please note the term 'lucky' is used often because nothing is guaranteed with a snake. You can do everything exact but the snake could easily get confused and perceive something differently.
What do I mean by respecting him for being a snake?
- I never played with him after he ate because that is when they are most vulnerable and it could cause him to regurgitate the mouse.
- I never touched his head or was rough with him. Putting your hand around his face too much leaves a risk of him confusing it for food.
- I never let him around my face or wrap around my neck for safety reasons.
- I never let him sleep in the bed with me.
- I never played with him while he was shedding because that is another time a snake is vulnerable and could mistake your hand for food.
- I always followed a routine when I fed Sage versus bringing him out to show friends or to let him wrap around my arm. Remembering to handle your snake with care lets the snake know what you are doing next and always seemed to work with me.
Snakes are easy pets to care for but don't forget their nature and try to understand the importance of safety. They are not like owning a cat or a dog so it is better to acknowledge this fact before you have to learn the hard way. Larger snakes are even more of a safety issue because if you are careless and they get loose, due to their size, they have the potential to hurt a human being. That is another reason big snakes intimidate me.
Helps snakes when they are shedding.
Putting Sage back into his habitat
Using a snake hook is a tool I used often.
This saves you and the snake any confusion.
I used this tool a lot and it limited mistakes.
Are you in a good location?
Know your area and your limitations.
I am surprised how fast people will jump into a committment with a pet before realizing they got more than they bargained for. Where you live can make a difference on how well you can provide for your pet and how much money you end up spending just to have it.
- Does the pet store in your area provide mice for exotic pets? Some only sell mice as pets instead of food for snakes.
- Do you live in an apartment? If so, do they have a policy against exotic pets?
- Does your state require you to have a license? If so, do they charge fees of any kind?
- How far are you willing to drive to a pet store to get food for you snake?
- Do you have roommates? How do they feel about you getting a snake?
These questions can help you realize how much of a financial investment you will be taking on if you take a snake as a pet. Knowing your limitations will save you the headache of trying to find your snake a new home in case you realize this too late.
Sage resting on my arm
Sage was a great pet but eventually I had to make a decision that was best for Sage as well as me. I found him a good home with a dear friend of mine and I visit him often to see how he is doing. I enjoyed my experience watching him grow and I want all future snake owners to have a good experience like I did. Please take my questions and advice into consideration when you are deciding about owning a snake as a pet because doing your research will be a huge benefit to you. It will verify your decision and prepare you for what is to come especially for first time snake owners. Good luck!