Common Misconceptions About Pet Snakes

There is a LOT of misinformation and misconception about pet snakes these days, and we’d like to encourage everyone who’s considering a pet snake to read these handy bits of clarification first.

“If I keep a snake in a small enclosure, it won’t get big.”

This is simply false. A snake’s size is determined by its genetics and diet, not its enclosure. Keeping an animal (any animal) in an undersized enclosure for the purpose of keeping it small is cruel. Instead, pick a species that grows to a size that is manageable for you. We are here to help you with that.

“I have small children, so I want a tiny snake.”

Tiny snakes are delicate and sometimes very squirmy. A tiny snake can easily slip away from small fingers, and can be harmed or killed if squeezed too hard. While we do not recommend enormous constrictors for first time snake owners, let alone those with small children, it is often recommended to get an animal that is slightly larger or more established and less easy to harm. Think of a dog that is not large enough to harm the children, but is big enough and docile enough to be handled by those who aren’t always the most gentle. A similar goal is what we advise here, and we are glad to assist anyone with making that selection.

“Snakes do best when fed live food.”

While this may be the experience of wild snakes, a pet snake should not be given live food where an alternative is possible. We want these animals to be docile and manageable. Giving your snake pre-killed or frozen/thawed food will greatly assist in this. We recommend frozen/thawed prey, as this both decreases the risk of parasitic infection from the prey item, but also makes it much easier to provide appropriately sized meals at the appropriate time. It’s also important to remember that prey animals fight back, and every time you feed live to your pet there is a chance it will be injured. Wild snakes are often found with substantial scars from encounters with prey. You can avoid injuries (and costly vet bills), by feeding frozen/thawed. All of our animals are feeding on frozen/thawed food before we make them available.

“I heard that if a snake lays next to you it’s trying to size you up to see if it can eat you.”

No snake does this. Snakes determine the size of prey the same way all other animals do: visually. At no point in the wild does a prey animal sit still and let a snake crawl up next to it to measure it, so this would be an extremely impractical strategy.

“Glass aquariums are good houses for snakes.”

While top opening glass enclosures can be acceptable houses for some snakes, most keepers will find that they have a much better experience with a front-opening glass or PVC enclosure. Top opening aquariums do not hold humidity well. A custom made top can help with this, but ultimately, a purpose made enclosure for snakes is superior to something designed for fish. Top opening enclosures can also be difficult to secure properly, and are the enclosures snakes escape from most frequently. They also are typically too narrow, making it difficult for many adult snakes to turn around. Get the right enclosure for the animal. Your snake will be happier, and so will you.