What You Should Know Before Buying a Pet Snake
Are you hoping to own a snake as a pet ? If so, then your veterinarian will inform you that taking care of a snake is quite different from having a cat or dog. Read on to learn some of the important things that you should know before taking a snake home as a pet.
What Snakes Eat
Potential snake owners need to be prepared to feed their pet snake its proper diet. Snakes are carnivores, but they won’t feed on dry kibble from a bag like your cat does. Instead, snakes need to be fed other animals, and most snake owners choose to feed mice to their pets. Some snakes are content with eating dead mice, while others prefer live prey. If you would like to feed your snake dead, frozen mice long-term, then experts recommend that you feed your pet this way from the start. It’s also important to know that you should never put a live mouse in your snake’s tank unless you’re sure that the reptile is hungry. Otherwise, the mouse may bite and injure your snake. Most snakes need to be fed every 5 to 14 days.
What Snakes Do
Snakes live on the ground and rely on vibrations to learn a great deal about the area around them. Also, snakes can hear although they have no external ears, and they have a very good sense of smell. Eyesight is not one of their stronger abilities, but snakes use their tongue to navigate. Also, snakes don’t like to be touched too much but should receive a few minutes of handling each day.
Where Snakes Live
Providing your snake with the correct environment for its species will be critical for its health. Before taking a snake home, it’s essential that you determine what type of snake you want and then learn about its habitat, physical needs, and temperature needs. As the average snake owner will tell you, these reptiles are low-maintenance. However, setting up your new pet’s tank in a way that replicates its natural environment will be important for its wellbeing.
How to Choose a Pet Snake
Have you decided that you want a pet snake? If so, then there are several factors to consider when selecting one of these animals to add to your family. If you’re wondering how to pick a pet snake, then use these tips to find the right pet for you:
Choose a snake from a breeder.
If you know where to find snakes in your area, then you may be thinking about capturing one to keep as a pet. While this is possible to do, it is not recommended and especially not for first-time snake owners. Wild-caught snakes are usually less easy to tame than those that come from a breeder, and they are also more prone to parasites and disease. Instead, conduct a bit of research to locate a reputable snake breeder in your area.
Choose a snake that’s healthy.
As with any animal, you want to choose a snake that is in good overall health, so it’s important to give the animal a cursory exam to check for signs of illness when picking out your new pet. To choose a snake that is healthy, do not take home one that has mucus or sores around the mouth, peeling skin, bubbles coming from the nose, or closed eyes.
Choose the right snake species.
Because the care requirements between snake species can vary greatly, certain types of snakes are commonly recommended for first-time snake owners. Corn snakes, ball pythons, king snakes, and milk snakes are all popular species for beginners because they are relatively easy to care for, tend to be docile, aren’t too big, and are easy to find. If these breeds do not appeal to you, it’s important to do your research before choosing a different type. Water snakes, green snakes, tree boas, Burmese pythons, and boa constrictors, for example, are not recommended for beginners. Finally, anacondas, reticulated pythons, and any venomous snakes are not recommended as pets, even for experienced snake owners.
Best Snake for Beginners
Snakes can make wonderful pets when they’re cared for properly. When you’re just starting out with snakes, you’ll do better with a species that is fairly docile and easy to take care of. Before you start setting up your terrarium, you should find a vet near you who has experience treating snakes. Then, watch this video for some tips on finding the right species for you.
This expert recommends king, corn, and milk snakes for beginners. These snakes are in the constrictor family. As long as you handle them calmly and gently, these snakes will stay calm and remain easy to handle. Compared to other species, they’re easy to care for, but all snakes have sensitive environment needs. Consult your vet about keeping the snake habitat at the right temperature range.
How to Take Care of Your Pet Snake
Your New Pet
Snake care for novices starts with choosing a good beginner snake; specialists recommend king snakes, corn snakes, and ball pythons for potential new snake owners. There are a few risks you should be aware of before taking on snakes as pets: bites can happen on occasion and snakes are also carriers of salmonella, which can make a person very ill if they become infected. If you do choose to bring a snake into your home, ask everyone in your family to wash their hands after handling your new pet.
What Snakes Like
Unlike other common household animals, snakes are solitary animals that do not like loud noises or crowds, and they should have their own habitat that’s isolated from other snakes and pets. Plan to keep the handling of your new snake to a minimum, but do hold him for about five minutes per day so he can grow accustomed to human contact. Snakes enjoy a consistent lifestyle that’s free of change and surprises, so try to feed, water, and clean his tank on a regular schedule.
How Snakes Live
Young snakes can live in a 20-gallon tank when they’re small, but plan to upgrade the aquarium size if the snake species you select will continue growing. You will also need a screened, locking lid to cover the tank, and many snakes need a cool area in their environment and a heat source as well so they can regulate their body temperature. Moving into his new surroundings will be stressful for your snake, so watch for signs of illness such as runny droppings or weight loss, and bring him to a pet hospital a few days after purchase to ensure that he’s in good health.
How to Feed Your Pet Snake
Owning a pet snake requires learning how to care for your pet in a way that is safe for both you and your snake. Feeding pet snakes is usually one of the biggest learning curves that new owners experience. Your veterinarian can guide you in all aspects of learning to care for your snake, including how to feed it properly. There are a few different approaches to feeding a pet snake, and the right one for your pet depends on a number of different factors. Ask your veterinarian for advice and keep these tips in mind.
Time Your Feedings
Snakes don’t eat every day like other pets. How often your snake eats depends on the size of the snake and where it is in its breeding and shedding cycle. Smaller snakes eat more often, typically about twice per week. Larger snakes can eat once per week or in some cases, once every few weeks. Snakes who are shedding or in the midst of breeding season may refuse to eat. Your veterinarian can give you guidelines for how often to feed your snake, but your snake will show you how often it wants to eat by how it responds to the way you feed it.
Choose Live or Dead Prey
In the wild, snakes eat live animals, but in captivity, this is not always the case. Many pet snakes are willing to eat dead animals, such as dead mice. It is acceptable to feed your pet snake live prey, but you should never leave a live animal in the cage with your snake. Even a small mouse can injure or kill a snake, so make sure the prey is dead before leaving your snake unattended. Depending on the type of snake and your veterinarian’s recommendations, your snake may eat mice, insects, worms, frogs, and other reptiles.
Even if your snake is relatively accustomed to being handled, you should never try to feed your snake by hand or hold your snake while it is eating. Throw the prey into your snake’s home and quickly close the lid, or use tongs to give the food to your snake.
Common Diseases in Snakes
Keeping a reptile healthy is an ongoing job. Snakes have unique care needs and medical issues. If you’re a new snake owner, consider asking a veterinarian near Cupertino to direct you toward credible resources on snake health. Reading about the common diseases that can affect snakes can help you identify these problems quickly and get your snake to the veterinarian when needed.
Respiratory infections are a common problem for snakes . These infections are often caused by bacteria, but may also be caused by viruses, fungi, and parasites. A snake with a respiratory infection may breathe in an unusual manner, such as by wheezing, keeping the mouth open, and making gurgling noises. Sick snakes might also have excessive nasal discharge, excessive mucus in the oral cavity, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Respiratory infections can go along with infectious stomatitis, also called mouth rot.
Infectious stomatitis is a secondary disease that affects the teeth and gums. It can lead to the appearance of yellowish-grayish plaques in the oral soft tissues, loss of appetite, and excessive, ropey saliva. If left untreated, infectious stomatitis can become very severe, causing problems such as necrotic tissue and loose teeth.
Parasitic infections are often difficult for snake owners to detect. This is another reason why it’s so important to bring pets to a veterinarian regularly for wellness exams. The veterinarian may need to conduct fecal testing to confirm the presence of parasites. When parasitic infections do cause noticeable symptoms, these may include weight loss, itching, skin irritation, diarrhea, regurgitation, and breathing problems. Additionally, skin mites can cause infectious stomatitis.
Inclusion Body Disease
Inclusion body disease is a viral infection that can affect boas and pythons. This is a very serious disease that requires prompt veterinary care. Some of the first signs to appear can include periodic regurgitation, head tremors, and abnormal shedding. Some snakes may develop pneumonia and weight loss. The characteristic sign of inclusion body disease is unusual body positioning. The snake may roll onto the back, which is known as stargazing, or move the head and neck in abnormal positions. Inclusion body disease is fatal, but life may be maintained through force-feedings.
Read our article on how to detect and treat mouth rot in reptiles to ensure your snake does not experience mouth rot.
What Not to Feed Your Pet Bird
Your veterinarian in San Jose can help you design a diet that’s appropriate for your pet bird . Specially formulated bird pellets will give your bird a nutritionally complete diet, but you can also give your bird smaller amounts of food from your own kitchen. Certain foods should be avoided at all costs, as they can seriously harm birds. These include chocolate, which can result in seizures and death. Apples are a good snack for birds, but do make sure you wash the fruit and remove the core before feeding it to your bird.
Keep mushrooms out of your bird’s reach. Some types can cause digestive problems in birds, and some may even cause liver failure. Companion birds can safely eat beans, but only when they are thoroughly cooked. Never allow your bird access to raw or dry beans. Similarly, your veterinarian will warn you against giving your bird any onion products, caffeinated beverages, tomato leaves, or salty foods. Avoid leaving alcoholic beverages unattended if your bird is roaming around your home.
Why Does My Cat Keep Meowing?
Cats meow to talk to humans, and some cats are naturally more vocal than others. For these reasons, meowing is often not something to worry about. However, some feline vocalizations can indicate that something is wrong with your pet. Read on to learn when your cat’s meowing can mean it’s time to visit his veterinary clinic in San Jose .
Meowing at Your Feet
If your cat frequently rubs against your legs and meows at your feet, then he is probably asking for food or attention. However, keep in mind that some cats will ask for food even when they have eaten enough for the day. To help keep your feline at a healthy weight, speak with your veterinarian to learn how much you should be feeding your cat, and then stick to these guidelines even if your cat starts meowing for food. Also, you may find that feeding your cat several times throughout the day instead of once per day will help keep him satisfied and less demanding of more food.
Meowing at the Door
It’s common for cats to sit next to a door and begin meowing when they want to get to what is on the other side. For this reason, a cat that keeps meowing by the door probably just wants to go outside or into the next room.
Meowing in the Litter Box
If your cat is suffering from a urinary tract infection or blockage, then this may cause him to meow while using the litter box. If you notice that your cat is meowing when relieving himself, then bring him to your veterinarian immediately. Both urinary tract infections and blockages are very painful, and blockages can be a medical emergency for your pet.
Meowing More Than Usual
If you have had your cat for a while, then you are probably familiar with his normal behaviors. Excessive meowing may indicate that something is medically wrong, so it’s a good idea to bring your cat to see his veterinarian if he recently started meowing more than usual.
Tips for Preventing Winter Weight Gain in Dogs
In sunny California, the weather is nearly always ideal for taking canine companions out for a long walk. But many people tend to be busier during the winter months, and might not have enough time to give dogs the exercise they need. If you plan to travel for the holidays and will board your dog at a kennel, you’ll need to pay particular attention to the risk of winter weight gain. Bring your dog to a veterinary clinic in San Jose for a wellness exam, and ask your veterinarian about effective, safe ways of managing your pup’s poundage.
Limit your dog’s holiday treat consumption.
Your dog certainly can’t indulge in holiday cookies or eggnog, but pet parents often do feed their companions extra dog treats during this season. Instead, give your dog healthier holiday gifts, like a new chew toy or a comfortable dog bed. If you’re having guests stay with you during the holidays, you should instruct them never to feed your dog table scraps.
Consider changing your dog’s diet.
Abrupt changes in a pet’s diet aren’t recommended, as they can cause digestive upset. However, if you’re concerned that your dog’s current food might have too many calories, you can consult your veterinarian. If your vet does recommend a switch, transition your pup to the new food gradually.
Find a boarding facility with excellent exercise facilities.
Traveling for the holidays? If you can’t take your pooch, look for a boarding facility that emphasizes exercise for their furry guests. Make sure the staff knows exactly how much to feed your dog, and explain whether you want your dog given treats or not. Check the outdoor exercise area before deciding whether to board your dog there.
Schedule some puppy play dates.
Dogs need socialization, especially when they’re young. Schedule regular puppy play dates with companions who are a good match for your dog. Look for a furry friend who is roughly the same size and age as your pup. Choose a fenced-in, neutral location for the play date, and let the dogs get to know each other at their own pace. If they’re a good match, they’ll soon be romping playfully with each other, and burning off those extra calories.
Understanding the Consequences of Untreated Dental Disease for Canines
Your dog needs routine dental care at home and at the veterinary clinic in San Jose. Dental care is essential for preventing and treating oral diseases in canines, such as tooth decay and gum disease. You can learn how untreated dental diseases can compromise your dog’s health when you watch this brief video.
It explains that plaque that builds up on the teeth will form hardened tartar if it isn’t removed promptly. Eventually, the tartar buildup inflames and irritates the gums. Gum disease can be indicated by persistent bad breath, swollen gums, and bleeding gums. Unless a veterinarian treats the dental disease, the dog is in danger of tooth loss, bone loss, and even systemic infections that can inflict damage on the heart, kidneys, and liver.
Ways to Promote a Long and Healthy Life for Your Cat
Your furry feline is a faithful friend who gives you unconditional love. Return the favor by keeping your kitty as healthy as possible. A long, healthy life for your cat starts with routine veterinary care. Find an experienced veterinarian in Cupertino, and bring your cat in for routine wellness checks and shots. Your veterinarian can give you lots of helpful tips on health matters, such as nutrition and dental care.
Indoor cats tend to live longer, as they aren’t at risk of being attacked by predatory animals, and they may be less likely to pick up infections. However, indoor cats do tend to develop one major health problem: Excessive weight. Ask your veterinarian how much your cat should ideally weigh, based on the breed. If your cat is overweight, know that this increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, and a shorter lifespan. Use the following tips to help your kitty slim down:
- Switch to a lower-calorie food that your veterinarian recommends
- Limit treats
- Make your cat work for treats with “food puzzle” toys
- Encourage your cat to play
Dental hygiene isn’t just for humans. Your cat needs regular dental care to reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Ask your veterinarian to do a dental check at each wellness exam, and ask for a demonstration of how to brush your cat’s teeth at home. Pet stores often sell specially made dental hygiene products for pets. You can also feed your kitty dental treats. Your veterinarian might recommend a clinical cleaning periodically.
Your cat needs a safe place to roam around. Fortunately, the process of cat-proofing isn’t nearly as labor-intensive as babyproofing. If you open your windows, make sure your cat can’t fall through the screen. Avoid keeping plants that are toxic to cats , such as aloe, African violet, lilies, orchids, and English ivy. Some cats enjoy jumping up on countertops and tables. If your companion shows this tendency, make sure these surfaces are clear of anything that could be toxic to your kitty, such as onions, garlic, grapes, chocolate, and coffee. Until you become more familiar with items that are toxic to cats, consider posting a list on your fridge door to remind yourself.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick-borne, bacterial infection that can affect both people and dogs. Also, despite its name, this disease is seen in many parts of the U.S. Keep reading to learn some of the signs and symptoms that indicate your canine may have Rocky Mountain spotted fever and should be seen by his veterinarian in Cupertino .
A dog that is infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever may exhibit coughing, blood in her stool or urine, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, or vomiting. Other signs of this disease include malaise, fever, bruising, bleeding around the mouth and eyes, and edema. Symptoms that your pet may experience and that may be less obvious to you include abdominal pain and joint pain. If you suspect that your canine may be suffering from this tick-borne disease, then schedule a visit with your veterinarian so your pet can be tested and then treated, if necessary.
Reasons Why Your Feline Needs Regular Veterinary Checkups
Did you know that your cat should be seen by her veterinarian in San Jose at least once per year? Regular checkups are important for keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date, as well as for giving her veterinarian the chance to check for signs of health problems. Watch this video to learn more about the importance of regular veterinary checkups for cats.
Some feline conditions, like heart disease, are often asymptomatic, meaning that the cat won’t display symptoms at home. Also, dental disease is a common problem in felines that frequently goes undetected by pet owners, and cats who are suffering from arthritis will rarely exhibit signs. For these reasons, you should remember to schedule annual checkups for your cat to help promote her health and wellness.
Adopting Your First Ferret? Avoid These Common Ferret Care Mistakes!
Are you planning to add a ferret to your family? If so, then keep reading to learn some common ferret care mistakes that your veterinarian in San Jose would want you to be aware of.
Feeding the Wrong Diet
Ferrets are carnivores, so you may be tempted to feed yours the same food that you feed your feline. This would be a mistake, as cat food does not supply ferrets with all the nutrition that they need. Dog food is also a bad idea. Instead, feed your ferret food that is specifically formulated for ferrets. Additionally, fully cook any meat before feeding it to your ferret, and do not feed your ferret fruits, vegetables, grains, bread, cooked bones, chocolate, caffeine, dairy, or anything containing xylitol.
Skipping Veterinary Exams
Just like dogs and cats, ferrets should see a veterinarian for a checkup and vaccinations once per year. If you are planning to adopt a ferret, then you should only do so if you are confident that you can afford his ongoing veterinary care costs.
Keeping Ferrets Caged
Of course, you will need to keep your pet ferret in his enclosure some of the time. However, ferrets are very active creatures that require plenty of exercise and playtime to stay healthy and happy. Your ferret should have time to run and play outside of his cage every day, ideally several hours or more.
Forgetting to Ferret Proof
Playtime is essential but, before letting your ferret loose in your home, it’s important to take some ferret proofing precautions to help protect both your pet and your belongings. Take a look at the room where you plan to let your ferret play, and then remove any houseplants and seal up or block any openings more than a centimeter or so wide. Also, remove anything that you do not want your ferret to chew, eat, fall off of, knock over, or hide in. If you don’t have a space that is easily ferret-proofed then consider purchasing a large ferret playpen to help keep him safe while he plays.
Obesity is one of the most common issues that veterinarians in San Jose see in cats and dogs, and this problem can put your furry friend at risk for several health problems. Watch this video for advice on preventing obesity in your pet.
Just like with people, carrying extra pounds can increase your cat or dog’s risk for health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Weight gain in pets can be caused by problems like hypothyroidism, but it is more often the result of overfeeding and too little exercise. To help promote a healthy weight for your pet, feed her balanced and nutritious food in two or three small meals throughout the day. Also, avoid feeding your pet table scraps and help her stay active. Finally, if your cat or dog is obese, then speak with your pet’s veterinarian about developing a healthy weight loss plan.
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