Guide to Owning a Pet Snake

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. Guide to owning a pet snake in San Jose

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:Owning a pet snake in San Jose

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.What to know before owning a pet snake in San Jose

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.

Practice Safety

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.How to own a pet snake in San Jose

Respiratory Infections

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

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.

We are a veterinary clinic in San Jose, CA, contact us if you need more help in picking or treating your pet snake.