Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Snakes, River, Deadpool, and Athena

So I've talked about snakes in general, and now I'm gonna talk specifically of my snakes and how I care for them. I'd like to open by saying that this is solely what works for me after a lot of trial and error, and accounting for their personal quirks (which snakes do have).

Mexican Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis Getula Nigrita)
Sex unknown (assumed female)
Hatched Feb 2012
Purchased from a Petco in Brooklyn, NY

River is the snake I've had the longest, she's also the best with people. She got me hooked on kingsnakes and I imagine I'll always keep some. Kings are some of the most hardy snakes out there, and as such they can adapt pretty well to changing conditions. However, try to keep their hot spot around 85, and no higher than 90. Their humidity doesn't need any special consideration beyond a water bowl. I keep River on a bio-active substrate complete with live plants, however this isn't necessary and they will fare just fine on aspen or paper towels. The trick is to make sure that the substrate is never wet. Kings can handle humidity pretty well if necessary, but they need to keep their bodies dry. Mexican Black kings are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful non-venomous snakes available on the market. She's a glossy black and her scales have a serious iridescence to them. These snakes are crepsecular, which means they are active at dawn and dusk. While some of this is timed in, if you want to see your snake out a bit more often keep the tank out of direct light and they'll feel more comfortable.

Apalachicola Kingsnake (Lampropeltis Getula Meansi)
Hatched Dec 2012
Purchased from Reptmart.

Deadpool has been pretty true to his name since I got him. He's somewhat of a psycho, and the only snake in the collection that has actually bitten me. This type of kingsnake is also known as Goini or Blotched in the hobby, and mine happens to be striped. Their coloration tends to include a lot of red and yellow blushing, and there is actually a high red/orange color morph known as the "blaze phase". His care is identical to that of River, in fact you can really keep all kingsnakes in the same way. However I do keep him on Lizard Litter, which is just chipped aspen, because he's been a bit hard to handle and I want to have better access to him in order to work with him, which means no burrowing. One thing about kings that Deadpool reminds me of is that with kingsnakes, docility comes with age and size. After minimal work Deadpool is no longer a biter, but I still get peed on pretty regularly, but as he gets bigger a lot of that will die down as long as I work with him.

Irian Jaya Carpet Python (Morelia Spilota Harrisoni)
Hatched 2007
Adopted Locally

Athena here is the newest addition to the group, she's also gonna be my last snake for awhile. 3 is about my limit in my current living situation. Athena is also the only adoption, although I imagine that from now on most of my snakes will be adopted. Athena is by far the largest snake in the collection, over 4 feet long and very heavy bodied. I don't have a scale here but she's likely 10-15 pounds. I haven't figured out all her care quirks just yet, but I keep her a lot like my kingsnakes, just in a bigger cage. The great thing about carpet pythons is that they spend most of their time out in the open. Given branches and perches most come to feel secure outside, and are great display animals. I really love having such a cool snake, and I'll likely be getting more Australian pythons as my space increases

So there you have it, a little about the snakes I keep and how I manage it. I think snakes make great pets for a lot of reasons, but their ease of care and cool personalities definitely tops the list. If you're interested in a snake like River or Deadpool I say go for it, kings are great for beginners. If you're looking for a snake more like Athena and you're just starting out, I'd say maybe try a children's or spotted python first. Basically the same animal but somewhat smaller. Of course, as I've said in the past, I'm a big believer that if you do your research you can certainly start with a more advanced snake. Before you get into the reptile hobby remember to local a source of food that you can afford, find a local vet, and have the housing for an adult sized animal lined up. snakes grow fast, River was around 10 inches when I got her, not even a year later she's 3 feet and still not full grown. Finally, consider adoption when looking into your first snake. Reptile Rescues are a great way to get a well established snake that needs a home for a good price, and the places are generally flooded with tame ball pythons and boas.

Feel free to post any questions in the comments,

Keep Flying,

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