Should I Get A Snake?
So, you’ve been thinking about adding a snake to your family? Maybe you’ve asked yourself recently, “are snakes a good beginner pet?” It is definitely a wonderful addition and as long as you pay attention to their needs, they can be more suited to your lifestyle than other pets.
Snakes come with a lot of different things to consider since they are very different from the more common pets like dogs, cats, and birds. Let’s take a look and find out if a snake could be the right pet for you.
“Fear comes from the lack of knowledge and a state of ignorance. The best remedy for fear is to gain knowledge.” –Debasish Mridha
When it comes to snakes, there are a lot of options to find something you like. There are so many different species, colors (often called “morphs” in the reptile community), sizes, personalities, appearances… It is very likely that if you are interested in a specific kind of snake, you can find it. Even common beginner snakes have a lot of variety. Just to list a few, there are Corn Snakes, King Snakes, Milk Snakes, Rat Snakes, and Ball Pythons. Even among these snakes, there is a lot to choose from. If you want a snake that doesn’t need a very big setup as an adult, you can find a size that suits your needs. If you want a snake that is most relaxed when handled and doesn’t move around as much, you can definitely find something! Whatever you are looking for, you can likely find it with enough research. There is something for everyone if you want to get a snake.
If you are a creative and crafty type of person, having a snake could be incredible! Snakes can be amazing models for pictures and inspiration. Additionally, their enclosures allow for a lot of customization. Some people even have themes for their snake enclosures, filling them up with related hides and decorative pieces that make them pleasing to the eye. Others go as far as even creating custom backgrounds to add a naturalistic (or even magical) touch to their snake’s environment. For anyone who enjoys making things look nice, snakes are a great choice.
Relatively Easy Maintenance
Compared to dogs and cats, snakes can be a walk in the park for most! They don’t require daily walks, feedings, or litter box cleaning. Once you have their setup ready to go, other than changing their water at least every other day and feeding them every few days/weeks, and giving their enclosure a deep clean once a month, they are generally pretty easy to maintain. Of course, like most animals, having a vet (one that is specialized for exotic animals) on hand is important in case any health concerns pop up.
They Don’t Need That Much Attention
Some of the best things about having snakes as pets are that they don’t care if you work 8 or 12 hours a day or if you only handle them a few times a week (or not at all). In all honesty, snakes probably prefer to be left alone to relax in their own enclosure. Handling them is often for our own enjoyment, although some snakes do seem to enjoy exploring the world outside. If you’re a very busy person that loves to travel, maybe you should just get a snake and enjoy the freedom they give you.
They Don’t Eat Every Day
Generally, snakes take a while to digest their meals and because of this, most snakes that are commonly kept only require to be fed one appropriately sized meal every 7-14 days, depending on the size and age of your snake. If you are getting a very young snake, it might need to be fed a small meal every 3-4 days so it can grow nice and healthy. Some baby snakes only need to eat once a week. Overall, the point is that snakes just don’t need to be fed nearly as much as other animals and that can make snake food more affordable in the long run!
They Are Quiet
Sometimes the idea of getting a pet is great, such as a dog, cat, or bird, until you realize that they don’t understand the meaning of silence when you are trying to sleep, read a book, or just relax. You don’t need to cover your snake with a blanket to keep it quiet or take it out for a very long walk to get it tired. Overall, if you get a snake, you don’t need to worry about any noise other than the occasional “thump” of a clumsy snake falling over.
They Require Research and Education
Of course, snakes are not a walk in the park either. Every species will have its own important care needs that differ from other snakes. Before you even get a snake, it’s very important to find out what kind of snake you are going to get. Snakes are sensitive, primitive animals that often have very specific needs and differences, ranging from temperature tolerance, humidity, enclosure size, handleability, diet, and more. Giving yourself time to learn about their specific needs will make it so both you and your new snake can enjoy a healthy life.
Setup Can Be Expensive
Before you get a snake, its enclosure needs to be ready to go. This means that everything it needs should already be there. Depending on the size of the snake you are getting, it can easily cost over a hundred dollars to get the proper setup, which is sometimes more expensive than the actual snake itself! Unlike dogs and cats, where you can stop at the pet store to grab anything you’re missing, snakes need that extra preparation, which is why research is so important. I even suggest setting up the enclosure at least a week in advance to bringing your first snake home so that you can monitor everything and ensure it does not have any problems. There some cases where people struggle to keep the correct temperature or humidity inside the enclosure, and that could be very bad for a snake!
Snakes really do bring the whole “Circle of Life” aspect into reality. If you own a snake, you will more than likely need to purchase mice or rats to feed it. Some people can’t stand the idea of putting a mouse in with a snake knowing that they are directly responsible for their death. However, it’s also important to know that feeding live is not always necessary. It’s actually recommended by a lot of people to feed f/t (frozen/thawed) food to their snakes. It is more humane for the snake and the mouse. Snakes are carnivores, which means that they do need to eat meat. Of course, there are some acceptable alternatives for those that don’t want to feed their snake food with a face! One of those options is Reptilinks (ground whole prey put into little sausages for reptiles), though it is still a new product and is gradually being more widely accepted into the public reptile community. At least mice and rats aren’t actually that expensive compared to dog and cat food!
It is extremely important to always wash your hands after handling any reptiles. Snakes are known to carry certain bacterias that can be harmful to humans when ingested (especially for young children and the elderly). Make sure you don’t put your hands in your mouth and practice good hygiene when it comes to your snake. Some people are able to “kiss” their snakes and have no issues, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. As long as you wash your hands and don’t put your snake in areas where you prepare food, you should be good. For this reason, it is recommended to wait until children are at least 5 years old so they understand how to follow these rules.
As mentioned earlier, snakes are simple and primitive animals. If you want something that is going to welcome you home when you come back from school or work, you shouldn’t get a snake. At the end of the day, their main concerns are food, survival, and reproduction (if allowed). This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them! They are amazing animals to admire and appreciate. You can still handle and interact with them. Often times, just handling a snake can be extremely satisfying, as well as watching it explore its enclosure. As much as you might end up loving your snake, it’s important that you remember they are simple and don’t feel emotions the way that we do. Over time, they can learn to associate you with a normal part of their routine, or even that you are the one that feeds them, and they can begin to look forward to your company in hopes that you bring something for them to eat.
Chances are, if you do get a snake, you will at some point be bitten or “tagged”. Although it can be startling, I have personally found that snake bites hurt a lot less than cat scratches, bird bites, or even just a big dog stepping on your foot. Having experience with many other animals, I can confirm that I have painful injuries resulting from taking my cat to the vet that does not come even close to a snake bite. Most snakes simply aren’t capable of inflicting a lot of damage. In all honesty, even if a bite does hurt (for those with bigger snakes), many people still own dogs and cats despite the risk of being bitten or scratched. The same should apply to snakes. Don’t be afraid of getting tagged. You are big and scary to the snake and sometimes, it might think you are a predator. Learning how to read snake body language can actually help you avoid bites altogether!
An important note, though, is that snake saliva contains anticoagulants, which means that it thins your blood. So even if the bite barely does anything, it will bleed for a bit, even if it isn’t a serious bite.
Hopefully, this has given you enough information to help you decide if you should get a snake. Regardless of your decision, please research and study the kind of snake you want (or any animal!). In fact, I recommend researching for a few months on a few different kinds of snakes. Watch some videos, read many different care sheets too. There is a lot of information out there and the more you know, the better prepared you will be. It’s important to make sure you are ready for a pet snake because, at the end of the day, it is a living, breathing animal that you are making a commitment to.
Always strive to do better in every part of your life.
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