Basic Guide to care for non-venomous snakes and other reptiles/amphibians.
I have a 4 year old Corn Snake (sub-species Bloodred Cornsnake (Pantherophis Elaphe g. guttata)) , she is 4 feet long and almost full grown. She eats mice i buy from a local pet store. On a day by day basis snakes require little care just making sure they have clean water. on a monthly basis they need one to two days spending 30-60 minutes (Aka Feeding-cleaning)
Step 1: How to Get a Snake
First you want to start by thinking if you have the time and money for reptiles and amphibians. you need to know they live up to 30 years.
Most of the cost will bit up front most costly things being:
the snake (or other reptile/amphibian)
On a Bi-monthly basis you will need to buy:
Food (aka Mice)
Bedding (depending on size of bag/size of cage you may only need to buy bedding 1-4 times a year)
There are a few different ways to get a snake: Pet store; Animal shelter; snake breeder.
There are other ways to acquire a snake. I got mine free from a local volunteering group, i have been helping for years and when one of the snakes we use to educate people laid eggs i got one (adding 15 babies snakes to a family of 10 is just insanity so most of the volunteers got one for free)
I strongly recommend getting a Corn snake or Ball python if your beginning. Both are easy to care for, common, docile, and non aggressive (and non-venomous). Ball pythons grow up to 4-6 feet long and get VARY heavy so a Corn would be better for smaller children. Just to clarify these are not the snakes that you hear in the news, starting small and growing to 20 feet, eating dogs cats and people.
Ball pythons will need larger food than snakes ( Rats v.s Mice). They are native to the Pakistani area but it is vary common to see baby snakes in pet stores for $80-150.
Corn snakes grow 3-5 feet long are faster than ball pythons eat slightly smaller food (mice V.s rats) need less space and are native to US. They are not as common in pet stores but should be easy to find from a breeder $50-150.
Step 2: Cage Set Up
20-50galon aquariums/terrarium (i have a 50 used to house a tree frog (died at age of 7))
water bowl: docent need to be large
hiding place: small, warm, dark space.
bedding: Fill cage with about one inch of natural bark.
heating element: Do not use Hot rocks. Use a undertank heating pad.
Most snakes must be kept at 75-95f (Corn snakes 75-85 F).Reptiles are cold blooded they need higher temperatures to digest food. .
Dont ever use hot rocks. They are unreliable and can get way to hot; hot enough to cause burns.
Step 3: Cleaning Cage
Remove water bowl/hiding place.
If you are just cleaning out "solid waist" (reptile urine is also solid appears white) just use a scoop or gloved hands an remove all traces.
If you are changing Bedding move all bedding to one corner and scoop into trash bag. (change bedding entirely twice a year minimum.) Its not a bad idea to use a shop vac to get out every thing but its not needed. Replace bedding by equally spreading 1" deep in cage. Some brands need pre washing in water or rinsing.
Try to clean the cage (scooping out waist once a week) and clean the water bowl at least every 2 weeks.
Step 4: Water Bowl Cleaning
To clean most water bowls:
Remove from cage and wipe off any debris
Using hot water soak bowl in luke warm water for 1-5 minutes
Drain and scrub dish with rag
Fill sink with hot water again this time add 2-3 table spoons of Listerine.
Listerine is much safe than bleach as long as it is completely rinsed off.
Rinse and dry bowl.
Replace bowl in cage and fill with distilled water
Step 5: Feeding
Here im just posting how/where to get mice im hoping to finish my snake feeding instructable in addition to my up coming instructable there is also i pod guy's instructable on feeding snakes with C02
Your options: Get live mice. Get frozen mice.
frozen mice are safer and more humane (mice are killed by flash freezing they die instantly and "feel no pain")
I also strongly recommend having a second smaller cage for feeding snake i used a left over 15 gallon aquarium no bedding or water or hiding places are needed in feeding cage.
live mice can be obtained from most pet stores, pet smart disapproves the use of there mice for feeding, they claim it is in humane. I call it the circle of life but i still feed frozen mice for 3 main reasons:
1.Large prey can injure or even kill a snake
2.Keeping live mice cost money
3.you dont need to watch a living animal suffocate
One down side to frozen mice is they must stay frozen (until you actually feed the snake) this means storing in freezer
Just to clarify you need to reheat the mice to there living body temperature. This is vary important when you are feeding ball pythons and other snakes with heat sensing pits in there snout.
Step 6: Snake Injuries
Some common snake injuries are:
Broken ribs-nothing can be done must heal on there own-unless you want to spend $1,000 on a full body cast. (half of that is a joke but yeah it cost a lot for any vet visit )
Chafing- most commonly from rubbing noes on top of cage- not to much to do to treat most likely the snake is hungry and looking for food. Help healing and fight infection by treating with repti wound healing aid. (im 50% sure there is a term for this but i don not remember it)
lack of hunger-could be caused by sickness, breading season, anorexia from stress. Your options are limited; taking snake to vet cost a lot of money, doing nothing starves snake, force feeding is dangerous. Try Different food source, live food instead of frozen.
My snake had a Chafing problem-treated and cured with the Healing Aid
My snake also went for almost 2 months with out food. We took the snake to the vet and said "your snake is one of the healthiest snakes we have seen in a long time" most likely cause: mating season. After a 2 months my snake started eating again.
off the top of my mind this is all i can remember comment if you have any questions problems or other ailments
Step 7: Snake Sexing- Is It a Boy or a Girl
1:Probing, sticking small rod into Cloaca (butt hole) towards tail. if it dosent go in its a female if it dose its a male i do not recommend you try this unless your trained- and this is not training
2:look at tail (i cant competently explain this so look at pictures)
3."popping" watch video for demo on male snake. moderately dangerous i dont recommend
watch this (its not me)
Step 8: Shedding
As snakes grow there old skin becomes tight, when it get to tight they start to rub against any rough edge in enclosure. An adult snake sheds its skin 1-4 times year a baby snake can shed monthly during the first year of life.
Snakes eyes become cloudy when they are about to shed, as the scales over the eyes prepare to fall off. You should not need to assist your snake in shedding, just remove the skin when you see it.
Step 9: SNAKE BITES (non-venomous)
There are few situations where corn snakes will bite you (wild snakes will bite).
I have been bitten twice by my snake once when i put my hand in cage after feeding to remove snake and she saw a mouse (aka my hand). The second time i was sitting on sofa and a loud noise startled the snake it felt threatened and bite my arm. Nether time i felt any pain (there teeth are like little needles) its way more of a shock than any thing else.What to do immediately wash with soap and water. Use antiseptic/disinfectant and a bandage if you get an infection see a doctor. Theres not that much more risk of any long term ailments V.s an ordinary scratch. "The worst part about bites from small snakes is usually that brief moment of complete startlement that gets your adrenalin up rather than the bite itself."
Step 10: In Closing
This instructable is a general over view of snakes care if you have questions, comments, answers, suggestions; Please let me know.
I will add more steps and detail based on what people want and need to know so i need your input to finish this instructable!
Corn snake Care
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