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How To Look After a Pet Snake

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Have you ever thought of owning a pet snake? Snakes make surprisingly interactive and responsive pets and if looked after well, can form a close and lasting bond with their owner. There are a huge variety of snakes that can be kept as pets, however I would recommend either a corn snake, or a Royal Python. These animals can live for around 20 years and can grow to around a meter in length. To set up a snake for the first time owner will cost in the region of £300, however, once bought, snakes have few needs on a day to day basis.
What you'll need: 
A Snake, Royal Python or Corn Snakes are ideal
A vivarium
Bark chips/Greenery
A Hide
Water Bowl
Heat Lamp/Heat Map
Thermostat
Mice
Large Feeding Tweezers
Thermometer
1: 
First choose your snake. Both Corn Snakes, which originate in America, and Royal Pythons from the Tropics, make a good choice to start with. Corn Snakes come in a variety of colours, and tend to be long and thin. The rarer the colour, the more expensive is a good rule of thumb. Royal Pythons are larger and thicker and can grow to over a meter. Their patterns are dazzling, and they tend to look like the traditional "Sir Hiss" from the Disney film.
2: 
Housing for your snake is also varied. From glass tanks or a terrarium to a wooden case with sliding glass fronted panels. I would opt for the wooden vivarium, as these afford greater options for display and handling the animal. You should select one of about a meter in length, and 1/2 a meter wide by about 1/2 a meter deep, as this will last the snake for many years as he grows.
3: 
Once you have chosen your housing you will need to choose a substrate - this is the base on which the snake will live. I would recommend bark chips, as these mimic the forest floor, and provide the best surface for the snake to rummage around in. Also choose some artificial greenery for the snake to hide in and play with.
4: 
You will also need to select two large pieces of cork bark for the snake to use as a hide; he will coil up under the bark when not slithering around and exploring. Place one at each end of the vivarium.
5: 
As these snakes come from a hot and humid climate, you will need to replicate the conditions. For this you will need a heat lamp. Also provide a guard to cover the lamp as the snake will seek out the heat source and coil around it, possibly causing severe burns.
6: 
In order to monitor the temperature, which needs to be at around 84 degrees, you will need to connect the heat lamp to a plug in thermostat. This will serve to regulate the temperature at a constant level.
7: 
Snakes feed on small mammals, such as mice. These can be obtained from the pet shop or dealer, already frozen. These are specially bred for the purpose and are disease and worm free. Snakes feed by stalking their prey and then striking prior to swallowing the animal. You should defrost the mouse thoroughly, and then place it in a plastic bag before dipping it in hot water to heat it up slightly.
8: 
Although it is highly unlikely that your snake would ever bite you, this is particularly true if frequently handled, you may inadvertently get nipped when he strikes at the mouse. For this reason, present the mouse with long handled tweezers. This also prevents your scent getting onto the mouse, eliminating confusion for the snake.
9: 
Buy a shallow water dish and place into the vivarium - as with all animals, snakes need a constant supply of clean drinking water. You will need to add a few drops of chemical to eliminate the chlorine in the water. This can be obtained from your pet shop.
Conclusion: 
As with all pets, with the right handling and diligent care, your snake will be a rewarding and responsive pet. He may live for up to 20 years and will provide hours of entertainment, as well as being a really cool addition to the family.
Tips: 
Always seek advice before buying a snake. A reputable dealer will be only too happy to help
Warnings: 
NEVER feed live mice to your snake, not only is it illegal, it is also dangerous
NEVER use real twigs etc from the garden, they may carry disease
ALWAYS treat the drinking water
ALWAYS ensure you have closed your vivarium properly

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