Snake Caresheet

 

Background Information
Snakes are elongated legless carnivores that appeared and have evoloved since the end of the dinosaurs. Consisting of about 3000 species, 400 being venmous. Like other reptiles rely on external heat to warm their bodies to function efficiently and are covered in scales - some speices have rough scales others have smooth. Over time snakes have evoloved two different predatory methods: constriction and venomation. Constrictors overpower their prey with force and bite over the head to further block the preys airways. Species evolved with venom use various hunting techiniques to catch their prey but all rely on their venom to kill.They have evolved their sense of smell to be their main hunting sense using the fork shaped tongue which hits an organ called the jacobsons organ which works out the detected scent. Depending on which side of the tongue tip the scent is determines which direction for the snake to go for prey. Humans take roughly 100 particules to identify a smell where as snakes its just 4, being one of the most sensitive animals to smell in the animal kingdom. Pythons and boas are also equipped with heat pits on the ends of their nose which shows the enviroment in heat giving those species a more accurate picture of what could be potentially prey. Once a prey item is caught snakes extend not dislocate their jaws to swallow their prey whole. A bone on the top bottom of the spine is bent backward to help prey be swallowed. Like sharks snakes have a constant converyor belt of teeth should some get lost during hunting. Along with their keen sense of smell they snakes have also evolved a keen sense to vibrations enabling them to know what is approaching so they can seek shelter if they feel threatened. Snakes can vary in size the biggest species getting to 25 - 30ft. For reproduction snakes first undergo a stage known as brumation in winter which is very similar to hibernation but the snakes don't stay dormant occasionally moving very slowly to drink. This process allows certain hormones to be devloped ready to breed in the spring/summer when the climate warms back up the snakes come out of this process which starts the breeding season.

Level of Experience

Species depending as temperements vary with every snake

Habitat

The natural enviroment a species lives in in the wild

Life Span

How long snakes can live for some can live 40+ years

Active Time of Day

Most active time for the species-diurnal,crepuscular,nocturnal

Natural Prey

Rodents, lizards, frogs, insects, birds, bats, fish specie depending

Terrestrial / Semi Arboreal / Arboreal / Semi - Aquatic / Fossorial

Most are either terrestrial or arboreal however their are some that are fossorial and semi aquatic

Reproduction (family depending colubrids and pythons lay eggs and have maternal associations, boas give birth)

Oviporous = species that lay eggs, viviporous = live bearing
Ovovivparous = young devlops inside in an egg but is born live

Clutch Size

Varies on the species

Breeding Weights / Length / Age

Most species are sexually mature at 18 - 24 months however some species take slightly longer or slightly quicker

Brumation Time

The amount of time the snake brumates for

Brumation Temperature

Temperature brumation should be for healthy developement

Incubation Time

How long it will take for the species eggs to hatch/give birth

Incubation Temperature

Temperature required to hatch eggs (varies on species)

 


Captive Requirements and Welfare
Snakes like other reptiles need a heated environment to suit their needs and behaviour. They rely on external heat sources such as light bulbs to regulate their body temperature, therefore it is important to have a cool and a warm side in your vivarium. Recent research has shown that UVB tubes aid in snake vision therefore this should be part of a setup to give the snake its full range of vision. Snakes shed there skin to grow in similar patterns usually every 1 - 2 months depending on the age and species of snake. No they do not feel slimy, snakes have a leather feel to them. Some families like colubrids shed much easier then say pythons as their body structure is designed more slendered so should shed in one piece. Keep an eye on constant shedding issues as this potentially could be a sign of ill health but more commonly or not the conditions tend to be a bit dry so having a moss hide raises the humidity and helps the shedding process. Due to the design of their bodies pythons and boas don't tend to shed in one therefore this is nothing to worry about. They're two parts to shedding: preecdysis is when snakes will change their behaviour when going into shed, they become more secreative, colouration dulls and their eyes go blue which is a protective oil layer while the skin underneath is prepared making vision quite poor and depending on the species more aggressive then normal therefore it is best to leave them alone while they go through the shedding process. Eecdysis is the actuall shedding process which you may see them do. A lot of species will also go off their food at certain times of the year sometimes during winter, to prepare for brumation or during the spring when mating season occurs. The duration will vary from species to species so some may fast going into the summer or stop eating slightly before winter. This is just their natural body clocks and nothing out of the norm. Record checks are always good to do so you can monitor your snake’s health. Weight, length, age and shed dates are the attributes to record especially if you plan to breed in the future.

Vivarium size (many dimensions avaliable)

Depending on the nature of your snake will depend on what vivarium you choose to house it in, some are ground dwelling others arboreal.

Daytime Temperature (cool – warm)

These are the temperatures which the snake needs to survive during the day Specie depending there must be a warm and cool end to allow thermoregulation so their bodies work at optimum efficiency to be healthy.

Night-time Temperature

Same as the day but a natural drop which is important for some reptiles to complete the UVB cycle tends to be a drop of about 5'C but varies on the species

Heating Equipment (on timers or thermostat)

They're are many options that can be used to give out heat such as spot bulbs, heat mats and ceramics they need to be controlled to prevent overheat

Substrate

Alpha Exotics like to replicate the most natural substrate a specie will find in the wild. This allows them to exhibit their natural behaviours and not feel stressed

Hides

2 at minimum: one on each side a 3rd moss hide during shedding would be beneficial

Decor

Branches and fake plants allow the opportunity to climb and aids shedding

Water

Fresh water topped up when needed clean out water bowl every few days to prevent slime build up

Food (Feeding)

Pinkies or rat pups for hatchlings then increase the size as they grow. Always take the snake out and feed in a separate box to prevent substrate being eaten.

Cleaning

Spot pick weekly, full clean monthly