Should you clean pet snakes

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Mysticism, elegance and danger - these are the qualities people associate with one animal: the snake. Despite their ambivalent image, the tonguing reptiles are no longer exceptional as pets these days. In Germany alone, terrarium fans enjoy the fascinating way of life of a total of 1.2 billion reptiles and amphibians. Bringing a piece of nature into your living room in the terrarium - this desire also shows the growing interest in exotic habitats and ideally makes you more sensitive to the value of global fauna and flora. However, snakes in particular have very special needs in terms of keeping and care. If you want to become a snake charmer yourself, you should therefore make a few thoughts before buying your reptile.

1. Important questions that you should ask yourself in advance

Whether dog, cat or snake - the purchase of every pet needs to be carefully considered. First of all, you should clarify the following points for yourself:

Why exactly do you want to hold a snake?

With their silent movement and exotic appearance, snakes are undoubtedly a fascinating sight. But the optics should not be a basis for decision-making for the purchase - anyone who downgrades the terrarium and its residents to a decorative object in their living room is doing themselves and the snake a disservice. Passionate snake owners, on the other hand, invest costs and energy to create a natural habitat for their reptiles and to be able to observe the broad spectrum of their behavior in it. If building a mini tropical landscape or a small piece of desert appeals to you and you don't need a cuddly toy, a snake could be your ideal roommate.

Do you know the typical pet snakes and their unique needs?

Which type of snake is right for you depends primarily on whether you can meet their needs. They can be very different - after all, pet snakes come from the most diverse regions of the world: from the polar deserts to the tropical rainforest. Your personal experience with keeping reptiles should therefore serve as the first clue for the right breed.

  • For newcomers: You can start your life as a snake keeper relatively easily with snakes, for example. They're relatively easy to care for and non-toxic - at least the following types that professionals recommend most often for beginners:
  • For advanced: More experienced snake fans can also dare to keep a strangler snake. Specimens of the Boa constrictor imperator group are ideal here because they rarely grow beyond the 2 meter mark. Other species can reach more than 5 meters, making it difficult to keep them privately. Because strangler snakes can pose a physical threat to children, pets and you. If you choose a specimen, all of the residents in the household should be able to cope with it.
  • For professionals only: Poison beating belongs only in the hands of proven experts. In addition, your landlord can in principle forbid you to keep them if neighbors are worried. The federal state's legislation also has a say in this: Lower Saxony generally prohibits the keeping of poisonous snakes by the dangerous animal ordinance, in Bavaria a keeper must prove a legitimate interest, in Rhineland-Palatinate, however, there are no bans.

Can you even give your desired breed the space it needs?

This question depends on the size and lifestyle of your snake. As a rule of thumb, a terrarium should be at least as long as the animal when it stretches out completely. Height and width should be half the length of the body. Correspondingly, pairs of snakes or groups need more space, and breeds that like to climb also need more freedom in the air. If you want to start with an entry-level snake like the corn snake or an African house snake, you should plan a terrarium of 120cm x 80cm x 80cm. Forest dwellers such as the corn snakes want to find enough climbing opportunities in it, ground dwellers such as the desert boa need a soft and sandy subsoil. The temperament of your snake also influences its space requirements: While many snakes are very active, the attractive ball python is more of a lazy figure among snakes.

Do you have the necessary funds for basic equipment and maintenance?

The initial equipment for your scaled roommate in particular can cost a lot of money: while experts estimate a corn snake plus a suitable terrarium at 200 to 300 euros, a boa in a special color variant can cost several thousand euros. In addition, you need the right housing with lighting, heating, thermometer, hygrometer, interior fittings and suitable litter.

The running costs are relatively low for easy-care and small species such as the corn snake. Here the expert only estimates 100 euros per year. However, as a snake owner, you should be able to set aside an amount on a regular basis to absorb unexpected events. After all, your snake can suddenly become ill or important accessories such as the radiant heater break and must be replaced immediately.

Can you be sure of the support of those around you?

Anyone with a dog sometimes needs help from friends and relatives when it comes to holiday care or taking care of them in the event of illness. With a cute miniature poodle, helpful people are sure to be found quickly among friends. It can look very different with a snake. It must also be taken care of in case you are planning a longer vacation or should unexpectedly come to the hospital. In this case, you should ask who would support you before you buy the animal in your area and find out who is so afraid and disgusted by reptiles that they might not visit you at all.

Is there at least one experienced (medical) contact point in your immediate vicinity?

The fact that reptiles have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years does not mean that snake owners can rely on the same good medical infrastructure as exists for dogs, cats and rabbits. Many vets specialize in fur small animals and are barely familiar with the needs of reptiles. That is why there are lists on the Internet in which reptile keepers recommend competent doctors. Before you get a snake, you should make sure that you can reach a reptile specialist in the vicinity in an emergency.

Do you know what everyday life will be like with this pet - and for how long?

Snakes have no need to play or run like cats and dogs, which is why they are considered easy-care pets in practice. But in contrast to dogs and cats, as reptiles they have special needs in terms of their ambient climate. The temperature and humidity in the terrarium should always have ideal values ​​- so you have to keep an eye on them at all times or hire someone to check them if you are absent for a longer period of time. Like any other cage and terrarium animal, snakes want to live in a clean environment that you regularly clean of their remains. In addition, snakes shed their skin periodically and need help with this. You only need to plan a complete cleaning of the terrarium and the interior once a year. Another advantage of feeding: Young snakes only eat every one to two weeks, older snakes only once a month.

Their slow metabolism makes life easier for the snake keeper, but also ensures a long life span: most species can easily reach an age of 20 years. Even the small corn snakes, which the curious like to take spontaneously with them as offspring for around 10 euros, live to be between 12 and 17 years old. So consider before you buy: If you get a snake, you tie yourself up for longer than the average dog's life.

2. Tips for life as a snake keeper

What does everyday life with a snake look like? These points are particularly important:

The subject of live food

Snakes are predators and recognize their prey by their body temperature. From the point of view of species-appropriate husbandry, feeding with live feed would therefore be advisable. Paragraph 2 of the German Animal Welfare Act also provides for this, if it says: "Whoever keeps, looks after or has to look after an animal must feed, care for and house the animal appropriately according to its species and needs." However, the feeding mice also have their own Rights described in sections 17 and 18 of the same law. It says: "No vertebrate may be killed without a reasonable reason, and no suffering may be caused to it without a reasonable reason." Many people are therefore critical of putting live mice or rats in front of their snake.

Food animals must not suffer

If you keep mice to feed your snake, it is imperative that you provide them with a species-appropriate cage with a place to hide and things to do with. When feeding, the small mammals must not be exposed to excessive stress. As a rule of thumb, if the mouse has not been eaten after 10 minutes in the snake terrarium, you must immediately put it back into its housing.

Alternative frozen food

In the pet shop, snake owners can get dead mice and rats as frozen food for snakes. Before the reptile accepts them as food, they must be warmed to body temperature in a water bath. Veterinarians recommend feeding dead mice, especially for corn snakes, as living mice pose too high a risk of injury to the snake. However, some snakes strictly refuse to feed lifeless - if you want to care for them appropriately, you have to feed them alive.

Queues with different needs

Those who cannot imagine feeding small fur animals should get a snake that follows a different diet. For example, water snakes feed on fish and amphibians, tree sniffers on other reptiles and some species of snakes also on insects. The rough grass snake, which is 60 to 80 cm long and has an undemanding lifestyle, is ideal for beginners and prefers to eat grasshoppers, spiders, cockroaches and worms.

Background information on locusts: for some they are considered a nuisance, for others they are real lucky animals. For example in China. But also in European countries the grasshopper stands for luck and fortune.

Find out about the reptile driving license

Similar to the proficiency test for dog owners, animal rights activists have been demanding for years that reptile owners should also prove that they have enough knowledge of the needs of their pets. Currently, as a keeper of non-poisonous snakes, you do not have to provide this proof, but you can voluntarily submit it to the German Society for Herpetology and Terrarium Science. The two qualification levels "Expertise for private owners in accordance with Section 2 TIERSCHG" and "Dangerous animal expertise" are possible. You have to prove the latter if you want to keep poisonous snakes.

How is the training going?

You prepare the proficiency test for private owners with teaching materials that you can purchase from the company for 89 euros. If you feel factually fit, you can register for a one-day training course and exam, which is offered by specialists throughout Germany. The exam itself consists of 48 multiple-choice questions; there is a fee of 100 euros for the event. As a member of the DGHT you get a discount on teaching materials and exams as well as access to specialist journals and contacts to like-minded snake keepers.

Start with beginner-friendly snakes

You have already learned a lot about the colorful corn snake as the ideal entry-level snake. But if you want to have the feeling, at least according to the name, that you are not holding a snake but a "real snake", you can turn to the African house snake. It grows up to a meter long and is considered to be a calm temperament among the flickering reptiles. Since it comes very close to the inhabited areas in its homeland of West Africa and is hardly shy, it has been given the name “house snake”. Her balanced character is of particular benefit to those snake fans who have little experience in handling. African house snakes need a temperature of 25 to 28 degrees during the day, at night it can get a little cooler with 18 to 20 degrees.

Be sure to buy from experienced growers

Experienced breeders can offer you terrarium offspring of your selected breed. These offspring are much more balanced than animals from breeding farms or wild-caught animals, so care and feeding are easier later. In addition, offspring from terrariums are less contaminated with parasites and diseases than farm animals and wild-caught specimens.

Give your new roommate adequate housing

Putting a young corn snake in a huge terrarium is well-intentioned but unfavorable. Small animals do not get along well in dwellings that are too large and find their food poorly. Ideally, the terrarium should grow with its occupant; For very young specimens, a fauna box can serve as an interim solution. At the age of 9 months, a corn snake is ready to move into the adult terrarium.

"Better living" for snakes

In addition to the right size, it also needs the right furnishings: Retreats such as caves, water bowls and baths as well as stones, roots and branches for climbing. The rough surfaces of the natural materials also help the snake shed its moult. The adders also use moistened sphagnum moss for this purpose. After all, every snake breed has different requirements for the right litter in the terrarium: Desert dwellers get along very well with sandy subsoil, while tropical snakes need a moist soil with special terrarium soil.

Even if it is tempting, the animal does not hang over the shoulders of every guest

Snakes that are curious about people and even enjoy skin contact - some snake keepers believe that they observe this behavior in their animals. Scientific studies show, however, that every touch, take out of the terrarium and move causes a lot of stress to snakes. This is the main reason you shouldn't just put your snake around your neck when you visit. In the event of stress, the snake could panic, empty its bowels or even snap shut.

Pay close attention to the correct temperature and humidity

Snakes are cold-blooded animals and regulate their body temperature through their environment. For this reason, you should temper the terrarium so that it best suits the climate zone of origin of your animal, and offer it several temperature zones. For corn snakes, for example, these are between 23 and 35 degrees. The animals can then decide for themselves whether they want to cool down or warm up. You should secure the radiant heater itself with a protective cage so that the snake cannot burn itself if it comes into direct contact.

Snakes have different needs when it comes to humidity

In addition to the temperature, the air humidity is the most important climatic factor - if it is not correct, there can be problems with the moult. Races that live in the rainforest need up to 80 percent here, desert dwellers live at 40 to 50 percent. The humidity can be increased through the use of moisture-retaining materials such as peat and coconut fibers by setting up water basins or installing a UV nebuliser. You should always keep an eye on the value on a hygrometer and adjust it if necessary. Tip: You should also adjust the materials of the terrarium according to the moisture requirement. Desert dwellers live well in a wooden terrarium, while high humidity only works in a glass terrarium - wood would go moldy here.

tip: In addition to temperature and humidity, you should also provide your snake with pleasant lighting. Ideally, you don't leave the light on all the time, but rather turn it off at night to simulate a day-night rhythm. This works conveniently automatically using a timer.

Conclusion: snakes carry a great responsibility for owners

If you are not looking for a cuddly friend for life, but rather a window into an exotic landscape, then a snake could be the right pet for you. It demands specialist knowledge, do-it-yourself talent and care over decades - for this a snake rewards its owner with its mythical aura and a touch of extravagance. After all, not everyone dares to overcome their archaic fear and live with a snake.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions

Which snakes are there in Germany?

Adders, grass snakes, smooth snakes, dice snakes, adder and aspisipers are native to Germany. Of these, adder and aspic viper are poisonous.

What does it mean when one dreams of snakes

The dream symbol snake stands for duality and creative potential. The sexual aspect also plays a role in interpreting dreams.The professional dream interpretation snake requires the consideration of certain criteria such as color, circumstances and behavior.

How old do snakes get?

Many species of snakes can get very old, some boa and python species have been kept in captivity for over 40 years. Elaphe species, too, often reach life spans of around 30 years.
To this day, little is known about the lifespan of snakes in the wild. Depending on the type and habitat of these cold-blooded animals, they can live between ten and 20 years on average.

What do snakes eat?

You are looking for a suitable food animal in the area, which can be a mouse, a fish or even a rabbit. They have a completely natural hunting instinct, which is why most snakes only catch and eat live animals.

Why do snakes shed their skin?

Since the skin does not grow with snakes, they strip it off because it has then become too small.

How do snakes mate?

When mating, the male crawls on the female and wraps around its tail. It tries to get to that of its partner with its cesspool. The cloaca is a common body outlet for the digestive, sexual and excretory organs, which was originally present in all vertebrates

How do snakes see?

Except for species that dig in the earth, snakes can see well. However, they can only clearly see things that are in motion. And, unlike you, they don't see any colors. You also focus differently on the objects you are looking at: you move the lens and do not turn your eyes.

How fast are snakes?

On average, the snakes reached a speed of 2.1 to 3.5 meters per second (m / s) and an acceleration of between 98 and 279 meters per second squared (m / s2).

Why are there no snakes in Ireland?

According to legend, the Irish national saint St. Patrick chased all the snakes off the island. In reality, however, it is due to the climate. During the Ice Age, England and Ireland were covered by a thick layer of ice. Snakes couldn't survive there. When the ice receded, they migrated back to England via land bridges that still existed at the time. But before they reached Ireland, the rising sea had cut off the land route to the island.

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