There are many types of snakes. Ask your veterinarian what type of snake is right for you.
Snake Care Sheet (pdf)
- A glass aquarium with a lid that’s big enough for your snake to move around. Place a brick or books on top to secure the lid.
- A “hide box” (snakes like to be alone sometimes)
- A heat lamp at one end of the tank (like all reptiles, snakes need heat to warm themselves
- A dish of fresh water
- Line aquarium with newspaper, paper towel or shredded bark (from pet stores)
Feeding Your Snake
These are general rules for feeding your snake, ask your veterinarian what’s right for your type of snake.
- Most snakes eat once a week
- Feed your snake pre-killed food from a pet store
- Offer thawed mice/rats/rabbits, depending on the size of your snake
The Right Temperature
Place a thermometer at each end of the enclosure and use something to measure humidity. Your veterinarian can help you determine the correct temperature range and humidity level for your type of snake.
In general, temperatures should range from 60 degrees at night to 90 degrees in a basking spot during the day. But temperature range will vary among species.
Keep the Cage Clean
- Keep your snake’s aquarium dry and clean at all times
- Change lining daily and wipe up any spills
- Wipe the aquarium down once a week with water combined with a small amount of vinegar
- Clean the entire cage once a month. Remove the snake. Clean all items and tank, using ammonia-free dish washing soap mixed with a few drops of bleach. Make sure there is no soap film or bleach left on the tank, as these can kill a snake.
- Wash hands with unscented anti-bacterial soap before and after holding your pet
Never Keep a Wild Snake
- It is against the law to keep a wild snake
- Buy a “captive-bred snake”
- Popular pet snakes include corn snakes, rat snakes and king snakes
Finding the Right Veterinarian
- When you get your pet, have your parents or guardians take it to a veterinarian for a check-up. Choose one that specializes in snakes.
- Your pet should see a veterinarian at least once a year for an annual exam. Also take your pet to your veterinarian as soon as you think it might be sick.
How to Tell if Your Snake is Sick
Some signs that your snake may be sick:
- Hiding for long periods of time
- Not eating
- Shedding skin in pieces
- Bubbles around the mouth
- Opening his/her mouth to breathe
But there are other signs as well. Call your veterinarian immediately if your snake seems to be acting differently.
Information about taking care of your snake provided by Karyn Fein, DVM, and Monique Weldon, DVM, of the Coal Creek Veterinary Hospital in Centennial, Colo.