Choosing a snake as a pet may prove more difficult than it seems.
Almost everything and anything is available in the pet trade these days, and snakes are no exception.Common sense must prevail and it is important to make the right choice.
The following guidelines are primarily aimed at those of you out there who have decided to purchase your first snake.
It is also important to note that if you already own a snake, even a venomous one, it unfortunately does not make you an expert, and these guidelines may also assist you in re-evaluating your choice. I do not mean this in a derogatory sense, and if I offend anyone, I apologise.
I do not classify myself as an expert, even though I have several hundred snakes and other reptiles in my collection and have kept snakes for many years there is always something new to be learned.
Choosing the right species
The best advice that I can offer to anyone wishing to purchase their first snake is to keep it simple. Choose a "hardy" species. Something that will be easier to care for without too much fuss.
Do not, no matter how tempting it may be, decide on a species that requires specialised care or dietary requirements as your first choice.
This may be frustrating at first, especially if your best friend has a king cobra , but you will benefit from this in the long run.
Remember, you learn to crawl before you can walk, and learn to walk before you can run.
Choosing a snake that is "hardy" will give you the time to build up confidence and knowledge and also allow room for errors without affecting the wellbeing of the snake. Your first snake should ideally be one of the following species:
Your first snake should be one that you can handle with confidence.
Choosing a snake that you can handle is extremely important. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but by being able to handle your pet snake routine chores like cleaning the enclosure or replacing the water bowl becomes easy and less stressful for both you and your pet.
Never purchase a snake that intimidates you. Remember that you are now responsible for the wellbeing and health of your snake.
Your first snake should be small and manageable.
This may sound silly, but the advantage of a small snake is that it allows you to "grow" with your new pet. By doing so you will pick up on certain behaviour traits, personality, and quirks, in other words you begin to build a relationship with your snake.
Size does matter
Your first priority when choosing a snake should be the wellbeing of your snake.
Do not purchase a baby python if you do not have the facility to care for it once it has reached adulthood.
Do your research before you buy.
Baby pythons may only need a mouse at first, but as adults they require more substantial prey items which may affect your budget.
Big snakes may well become a handful, and as a result often end up being neglected (or dumped) because their owners become intimidated by their sheer size. And where/how are you going to house a 4 metre python?
Someone once said that the only certainty in life is death and taxes. If you own a snake then the only certainty in life is death, taxes, and snakebite.
Be prepared, if you own a snake, or snakes,at some point you will get a bite.
That's a good thing! You'll learn a lot from that, and hopefully not make the same mistake twice.
Bear this in mind when choosing a snake. Some species are quite nippy at first but are easily habituated with the correct handling. Other species remain psychotic throughout their lives.
It is for this reason that I strongly advise a non-venomous species as opposed to venomous for any beginner or inexperienced snake owner.
By now you should have a clear indication whether a pet snake is the right option for you. If so, then let the journey begin!
Carolyn Budai, owner and passionate animal person.