WORLD PET NETWORK
Currently, there are over 3000 different species of snakes all around the world so far discovered. This includes underwater snakes such as the coral snake with Antarctica being the only exception. With that number and approximately 20-25%% being venomous, there would appear to be between 600-750 venomous species worldwide. The most venomous land snake in the world is the Inland Taipan. It is not an aggressive snake and no fatalities have ever been recorded. It's venom, however, is strong enough to kill 100 adults with a one (1) bite.
The Inland Taipan pales in comparison to the snake with the deadliest venom on the planet. It is a good thing this snake prefers its habitat underwater, far from populated cities. It is called the Belcher's Sea Snake. The venom equivalent to one bite is enough to kill 1000 grown men.
There are many more deaths from snakes with a lot less venom that are way more aggressive. The average amount of people killed yearly worldwide by venomous snakes is varied due to many not being reported or being isolated. The estimates vary from 20,000 all the way up to possibly 95,000, maybe more. India alone has a population of over a billion. They report roughly 11,000 fatalities per year, however, it is probably higher.
Only select breeders and people worldwide keep venomous snakes and the average pet owner would not want to keep one of these venomous species anywhere within their home. The Corn Snake and ball python are the top pet snakes. Most other pet snakes will need the same requirements but be sure to research your specific type of snake.
Choosing a Pet Snake
A few things to consider when getting a snake are temperament, average size, survivability in captivity, feeding habits, children, other pets in the home and commitment.
A great beginner snake. It is very docile and does not mind being handled. It can grow very large in a 25-gallon tank but is happy in a 20 gallon. You would not want to keep it in anything smaller. Be sure to keep it isolated from other pets and snakes.
Another great beginner snake. Its maximum length tends to be about 5 feet and these are usually the females. Males typically go to about 3 - 3.5 feet in length. Besides being now the most popular snake pet in the world, it can live up to and over 30 years, so be prepared to dedicate a good portion of your life to it. An interesting fact about Boas & Pythons is that they have 2 lungs. Most other species of snakes only have 1 lung.
These easily tameable snakes can grow between 4-6 feet in length and handle well in captivity. Aside from a good temperament, they are remarkably easy to feed with frozen/thawed rodents not being as picky as a Ball Python which may not take to frozen/thawed food.
A few other common snakes kept as pets are the Gopher Snake, Rosy Boa and various species of Kingsnakes such as the California and Florida as well as a few more. As with reptiles, hot rocks are not recommended.
Feeding Pet Snakes
All snakes require a diet that is suited for them. Some are a bit pickier than others in choosing what they like to eat but with some variation and trial, you will know their favorite food in no time. Below are some helpful tips to assist you in proper feeding to maintain a healthy pet.
Depending on the snake you have an option to feeding it live or thawed prey is a product called Reptilinks. Many snakes and lizards take to it as an alternate form of feeding. Some people keep the food in the housing at all times and some feed it to their pets every few days as necessary.
Many people feed their pet snakes frozen mice or rats. The reason for this is to prevent any chance of "Prey Bites". These "Prey Bites" may occur when live food is introduced and the snake does not feed right away. As the snake waits until it feels like eating, the live prey may run around the enclosure nipping and/or biting at the snake.
Pet snakes are not daily eaters. They can go weeks without food once they get older but typically tend to eat every 7-10 days as an average depending on the size of their last meal. When feeding your pet snake keep the prey to around 1/2 the diameter of the snake to help the snake digest it. Do not handle your snake for up to 48 hours after feeding or the snake may regurgitate the meal. A couple of ques that may tell you if they are hungry are if the snake is scaling the housing or if the snake appears to be searching the housing.
If your pet snake does not take to thawed food simply dropped into the housing, then you may need to get creative. Using tongs, hold the back end of the prey or near the top of the spine and create movement by swaying or wiggling the tongs back and forth near the snake and inducing a strike. Be careful not to pull the prey away by being startled and not opening up the tongs to drop the meal.
There are some signs of sickness, stress & disease that if you notice early can help in regaining your pet snake's health quickly. The best way to assist in preventing many types of health issues is to have a habitat properly-suited & maintained for your pet snake(s).
For habitat information; See below or click here!
Many parasites go undetected for the life of the pet and are only found during a veterinary exam. Some parasites are internal and some external. Ques your pet may have worms or some other internal parasite are regurgitating food, diarrhea, swelling or reddening around the stomach area. A veterinary exam is the only way to verify this. External parasites such as fleas & ticks are common but unwanted. They can lead to anemia, blood disease and contribute to mouth rot.
With pet snakes, there are a few diseases they are susceptible to. The 5 most common diseases are;
1) Infectious Stomatitis "Mouth Rot" - Caused by an infection in the oral cavity. Mucus will drain from the mouth and if left untreated or unchecked will rot away the surrounding tissue. This can cause many other secondary health issues. Anti- biotics are available from a veterinarian to help this issue. Temperatures, nutrition, and injuries to the mouth or gums can contribute to this condition. *Personal note
2) Respiratory Disease - Viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites may all contribute towards issues in the respiratory system. This would usually be caused by some type of restriction of the airway. The main cause being mucus caused by "Mouth Rot". An observation to help you detect a respiratory concern is sounds coming from your pet such as bubbling or gurgling while breathing, mucus bubbles coming out from the nose, wheezing, or open-mouth breathing and sometimes gasping larger breaths. If the snake has gotten lethargic or will no longer eat it may be an early sign to keep an eye on. A majority of the issue stems from habitat temperature, humidity, cleanliness, diet. Space may also be a factor.
3) Blister Disease - This disease can be directly related to habitat. Conditions that are too damp or humid can cause the skin to soften and get torn or cut more easily or create damage under the skin tissue. Once this happens bacteria can multiply causing a blister. This bacterial infection can lead to more serious issues such as septicemia. Combined with an unkept or dirty habitat, this condition can be life-threatening quickly to the snake if left unchecked.
This off-site link explains it better then I can and has a lot of information dealing with this specific issue.
4) Septicemia/Toxemia - A blood disease caused by bacteria and or their byproduct toxins entering the bloodstream and organs. A protagonist for this could be improper habitat, advanced blister disease, cuts or nicks. If caught well before the animal becomes critical, the chances of survival are greatly increased, otherwise, this usually becomes fatal. In humans, antibiotics can usually clear septicemia or toxemia up in a few weeks. A clean habitat drastically reduces the risk of Septicemia or toxemia for your pet.
5) Inclusion Body Disease - Suspected to be a disease of the nervous system this disease makes Boas & Pythons immobile when placed upside down. (Much like a shark). It is also thought to affect the respiratory system as well as/or the digestive system.
All snakes do not like the same pet habitat however, they all do have a few things in common.
1) ALWAYS have a bowl or shallow plate of fresh water available at all times. Change it frequently.
2) NEVER use dusty cat litter, oily wood shavings or chemically treated substrates. Cedar & pine products are also not recommended for bedding. There are many options to dust-free cat litter or the other substrates stated above available on- online, at a pet store and even at larger retail stores.
3) NEVER overcrowd the habitat.
4) NEVER place the housing in direct sunlight.
Common Items Needed
Specific Items Needed
1) Suitably sized housing, escape-proof with plenty of room for your pet.
2) Hiding places within the habitat area. Do not use sharp rocks or any sharp corner objects. Flower pots are a good addition.
3) Water container (Snakes may use the water to assist in shedding, use it to defecate in as well as drink it so it needs to be changed often.)
4) Tongs - multiple purposes
5) Rubber gloves (For cleaning the habitat)
6) Possibly heat lamp/UVB or heat matt. Heating rocks are not recommended. Heating and lighting needs depend on your geographical location and access to natural light within the area.
Your substrate and humidity levels need to be specific for your breed of snake. The best thing to do is research the exact snake you are interested in. There are plenty of websites and books that are breed-specific and knowing the habits of your choice of pet will make caring for it much easier.
IGUANAS, GECKOS, ETC
There are over 6000 species of lizards worldwide except in Antarctica. All lizards have several traits in common, such as being cold-blooded, having overlapping scales and possessing acute vision. Lizards tend to communicate in 3 ways.
Many species of lizards can also detach their tails to escape predators in an action called autotomy. It can take from a few weeks to a few months to grow almost all the way back. However, there is no new bone growth in the new area and it is strengthened through cartilage.
All types of lizards are members of the "Squamata" order of reptiles, which also includes snakes.
Choosing A Lizard
The most common lizards chosen as pets are usually bearded dragons, iguanas, anoles, and geckos. Some can live up to 20 years in captivity such as a leopard gecko. The average lifespan for pet lizards is between 8-15 years. Green iguanas can reach 5-6 feet if you wish something larger than a gecko. At full size, they should only be handled by adults as the can do some damage or harm with their tails, claws, and jaws.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when thinking about getting a lizard or two.
1) Long term commitment: Some species live 20+ years.
2) Commitment to care: Daily maintenance and weekly cleaning, medications and appropriate food.
3) Adequate space: Having the room to accommodate your pets as they get bigger and room for housing.
***On a side note, the Komodo dragon can live up to 30 years old. Seeing as how they can kill a water buffalo with 1 bite (Sharp teeth combined with a venomous bite) and are a protected species not to be trifled with, I would recommend to choose yourself an iguana, gecko or some other type of dragon.
Although you think your pet lizard could eat almost anything, there are foods that are not healthy and in fact deadly to it. A consistent diet is important with plenty of fresh water. Even your pet Gecko or Bearded Dragon likes treat's once in while but know what you are feeding them. Insects found in and around the house may not be good options as they may contain pesticides or other chemicals. You can purchase fresh, frozen and freeze-dried insects at many pet food stores. Below are a couple of images that list foods do's and don'ts for your pet reptile.
Maintenance & Health
Although it may have been easy to choose a lizard, keeping it happy and healthy is a bit more difficult. Some lizards are more "hardy" and can take stress a bit better than others. Keeping your pet happy and healthy is not all that difficult but may come at some expense depending on your location.
If you're south of the equator you tend to be warmer than north of it. That being said, since reptiles are cold-blooded, you may need to invest in under tank heating pads or heat lamps. Hot rocks are not a necessity if heat is coming from above and may warm your pets up too quickly. Some rocks have a wattage adjuster which allows you to lower the heat setting and these are preferable to static heat rocks which stay one temperature.
The images below have more information on temperatures, humidity, lighting, ways to retain humidity for your type of reptile and more.
Cleaning The Habitat
Cleaning the habitat on a regular basis is beneficial for many reasons. Aside from making the air fresher, it keeps you and your pet healthier. It also allows you to inspect the cages for signs of fungus, contaminants, mold, the health of droppings and more. Click the image below on tips to keep your habitat healthy.