How Offten Can A 2 Week Old Take A Bath Enriching Your Snakes Life

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Enriching Your Snakes Life

Unfortunately, many snake keepers don’t really think about the psychological issues of their snakes. It is well known within the hobby that a large number of snake species are quite “lazy” creatures, perhaps only daring to crawl out of their skin in search of food, water or a mate. This is a true statement for many species, and this habit will certainly be the same in the wild and in captivity. However, in the wild, a snake may spend hours or perhaps days hunting for food, may travel some distance to find water, and may spend weeks courting females and possibly fighting males. This article describes many possible ways to keep your pet snake healthy and active, making it less likely to develop obesity or behavioral problems caused by boredom or inactivity.

The first and most important point is to make sure the foundations are in place. I.e; a reasonably sized vivarium, suitable temperature levels to allow thermoregulation, adequate humidity levels if needed, plenty of food and water, and shelter for the snake to retreat to. Once they are all in place, each area can be expanded, making your snake’s life more interesting and therefore a more enjoyable viewing experience for you.

Many reptile experts will no doubt spend a considerable amount of time explaining to beginners and those interested that snakes don’t really need a lot of space. It is generally accepted that snakes will be happy living in a terrarium smaller than their own length, and I strongly disagree with this statement. In fact, many individual snakes will suffer dramatic consequences if placed in a terrarium that is too large. They are often so stressed that they do not feed, become very timid, rarely come out of hiding, become overly aggressive and will not control their body temperature well enough, which leads to other problems. When changing the size of your snake’s terrarium, it is important that you are comfortable with the snake’s feeding habits and that it is convenient for you as a dog handler. If so, I encourage everyone to expand the size of the terrarium offered to their snake. The bigger the terrarium, the more shelters and decorations there should be. This will allow for more interest and opportunity for more practice. However, if your snake does not move well and refuses food, do not immediately move the snake back to its original enclosure. Instead, try letting the snake settle in for 2-4 weeks, providing appropriate heat levels and plenty of shelter. For the first move, I recommend moving the decorations and shelters from the old terrarium to a larger terrarium. This will make your snake more comfortable and speed up the transition period.

Terrarium equipment will play a very important role in enriching the life of your snakes. You can try offering different depths, types and levels of substrate. For example, you can build substrate up to 20cm deep at one end of the pen, perhaps held down by some natural cork bark or stone, and then have a 3cm deep bottom layer towards the other end. Offering more than one substrate in the terrarium will allow the snake to move over a variety of textured surfaces. Perhaps for a rainforest species; bark chips could be mixed with soil and dried leaves. Fake plants are ideal for snake enclosures; they are easy to wash and won’t squish if a heavy snake decides to sit on them. These plants can hang from the ceiling or back wall, drape and wrap around poles set across the terrarium, or they could simply be placed in bunches on the ground to mimic small shrubs. Having a number of heated spots in the terrarium is especially important for diurnal species. These should be open areas below the heat source, preferably more than one area, and could be directed at a flat rock, hanging branch, or even shelter. It is important that all heavy decor items placed in the terrarium are securely fastened. However, allowing slight movement in lighter objects such as small branches and plants is only natural and certainly stimulates the snakes natural responses.

It is important to realize not only what temperatures your snake should be exposed to, but also how they are offered. In the wild, heat is obtained by harnessing the sun, but this does not mean that the snake must have a heated space with heat or light from above. First, you should find out where your snake comes from and what daily habits it would naturally go through.

Almost all diurnal snakes will bask in the sun; it is therefore natural to offer spot bulb type heat. This will mimic the sun and should allow the snake to bask directly under the area the bulb is pointing at. The sun also moves throughout the day, which means many times the snake will have to move as well. Diurnal species often do not heat in the middle of the day; instead, they will bask in the early morning and late afternoon. By placing 2 spot bulbs in different areas of the terrarium connected to a timer, you can mimic the effect of the sun and give the snake a chance to find a new, better place to bask. If you have a big budget and a terrarium to play with, you can offer additional basking spots for different times of the day. You can even set lamps with timers on dimmer thermostats so that the output temperature can be lowered or raised depending on the time of day.

Many nocturnal or rainforest species will not bask in the sun, but should be exposed to higher daytime temperatures. Although it is recommended to offer different temperatures, there should be an overall air temperature. This can be achieved by using a power board. The Power plate is a 75W heater that is attached to the ceiling of your terrarium and provides a wider range of heat from above, making it more effective at raising the actual air temperature than other heaters. Lighting should still be offered for these species, albeit in the form of a fluorescent lamp. At night, a red bulb or moon bulb can be used for background heat and better viewing of the snake.

Nocturnal, terrestrial species that do not live in a rainforest environment often obtain heat from the surface of the earth, usually on flat rocks that have been exposed to the sun during the day and allowed to warm. This warmth is maintained for several hours throughout the evening. Hot stones are available to mimic this behavior, although it is recommended that they be used only for a few hours at a convenient time; usually the lights don’t go out until 4 hours later.

Water is usually offered in a small water bowl that does not even allow the snake to fully submerge. Although this is more convenient for many desert-dwelling species, other species will regularly travel to streams, ponds, or puddles to drink, bathe, and bathe. Offering water in a larger bowl, away from the heat source, stimulates the snake to bathe and swim more often, allowing for more exercise. Be sure to watch out for feces in the water, as many snakes commonly excrete themselves while bathing. Allowing the water to move with a pump, air bubbles or even a small waterfall will also encourage the snake to bathe and drink regularly. For rainforest species, especially tree species, a drip and/or mist system will simulate rainfall in the wild. This can be very important for some species that will drink mostly from water droplets that collect on leaves or branches.

One of the main parts of the life of all snakes is feeding. In the wild, snakes will need to hunt a wide variety of live prey. Some snakes can ambush their prey; others will use sight to stalk their prey, while others will use smell. In captivity, feeding live prey is frowned upon unless there are extreme circumstances where the snake simply refuses all other forms of feeding. Feeding live prey to captive snakes would of course stimulate their natural feeding behavior; however, it can be dangerous and almost certainly not necessary. However, it is possible to restore some of the snakes natural feeding responses and make them exercise like food.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of reptile enthusiasts are not educated enough to realize the importance of stimulating reptiles through feeding. Snakes get most of their movement through hunting and breeding, so unless your snake is used for breeding and is fed by virtually putting a dead rodent in its mouth, it will hardly have much movement. This has caused large numbers of captive reptiles to become overweight and obese, usually unbeknownst to their owners. There are a number of methods you can use to stimulate the natural hunting senses while getting the snake to move around the enclosure to feed.

If your terrarium has enough decorations and hiding places, try hiding food under leaves or in shelters. By rubbing food on different surfaces of the terrarium, it is possible to create an odor trail. Try to make this trail as elaborate as possible, it will no doubt confuse the snake but will inevitably make it move more and exercise more. You can also try hanging food from the roof of the terrarium. It is not wise to tie food with string or other indigestible material; however, a mouse tail, for example, could be trapped in a terrarium lid or some kind of clip. The force of the snake pulling at the food should be released. This will make it a little harder for the snake to hit because the food will wobble when it tries to bite. If your snake has a routine feeding schedule, such as every Monday evening, there is a good chance that it will begin to associate this time with food. This has been commonly seen in large pythons and is a very dangerous situation. Not only is this unnatural, but it can lead to the snake striking anything that enters the enclosure at that moment, even your hand. Many breeders will see this as aggression, but it may simply be a triggered response to feeding. It is more natural to feed your snake at random intervals and at different times during the day or night (depending on whether your snake is diurnal or nocturnal). Try to keep an eye on your snake regularly, if it is lazy and just hides all day, don’t feed it. Wait until the snake starts venturing out and looking for food without any food actually being there. This will encourage the snake to forage more often if you only feed when the snake is wandering around. Tease feeding is an excellent method to recreate the movements of a wild animal. Using two long pincers, you can grab food and move it around, simulating the movements of an animal in the wild. If the snake shows interest, move it further and around the enclosure, enticing the snake to chase and hunt for food. Once the snake strikes; shake the food quite vigorously to simulate a combat situation. At this point, the snake should wrap itself around the food and expend a lot of energy to suffocate the prey. This method is the closest you can get to seeing snakes’ natural ways of feeding, and it can be quite exciting to watch.

Handling a snake regularly is similar to taking your dog for a walk. It’s a way to get the snake out of its usual environment and provide it with exercise and a range of unusual smells. Many wild-caught snakes or snakes that are not used to handling should have limits on the amount of time spent handling. The last thing you want to do is stress the snake out with excessive handling. However, captive-bred individuals that are handled regularly will enjoy human interactions and the ability to move around on different surfaces. On a warm day, take the snake out into the garden and let it roam the grass. Be very careful not to take your eyes off the snake, the last thing you want is for it to quickly burrow into the ground or worse, be grabbed by a passing bird of prey. Being able to handle your snake allows you not only exercise and scent stimulation, but also easier maintenance and veterinary care when needed.

It has hardly been recognized that snakes require mental stimulation to stay fit and healthy in captivity. This article, along with your own ideas, should prevent your snake from becoming obese and having any behavioral problems.

We’d love to hear if you try any of our methods, or if you have your own methods you’d like to share with us. Please visit our website and let us know how you and your snake are doing!

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