Snakes / Reptiles – George Pet Shop – If you have an interest in reptiles, like snakes, George Pet Shop & Aquatics offers a section for you too! We can help you with professional advice on how to take care of your reptile friend. We don’t only sell reptiles, we also sell everything you’ll need to maintain and care for them! We have nicely sized cages in stock, as well as the lights and heat pads, that’s needed to keep your pet comfortable. You can also get decorations, snake hides, handling tools and your choice of sub straight for your cage!
You can visit our pet shop in 10 C.J.Langenhoven Street, or give us a call on 044 873 5591.
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Snakes may seem like low-maintenance pets, but they require a lot of care to ensure that they are healthy and happy. If you have recently gotten a pet snake, then you may be wondering how you should take care of it. Start by setting up a habitat for the snake. Then, learn how to feed it and hold it properly. After that, you will just need to ensure that the snake stays healthy by doing things like cleaning it’s cage regularly and watching to see when it sheds it’s skin. Here are a few tips when getting started.
1. Setting Up a Snake Habitat:
1.Buy a terrarium that will suit the snake. A terrarium is a glass enclosure for snakes. It looks like a fish tank with no water in it. Make sure it is specifically made for holding snakes as they are very good escape artists and will likely escape without a secure lid. You may need to purchase a long or tall terrarium depending on the breed of snake you get. The terrarium may also need to be larger if you have a large snake.
- For example, if you get a large boa constrictor, then you may need a wide, 40 gallon terrarium. If you get a small arboreal (tree) snake, then you may only need a 20 gallon tank. Get a tank that’s taller than it is wide. This will leave room to place climbing branches for the snake.
- Keep only one snake in each terrarium. Snakes are not social animals, so each snake that you own needs to be housed separately.
2.Purchase a hidey home to place in the terrarium. Snakes like to crawl into dark enclosed spaces to feel secure and providing a hiding place for your snake may even help to keep it healthy. You can purchase a hidey home in a pet store and place it in the terrarium for your snake.
- The hiding place should be large enough for the snake to get its whole body into, but small enough to provide a snug hiding place.
- Hidey homes come in different shapes, such as rocks or hollowed out logs. You can also make a hiding place for your snake out of a plastic container, such as a clean cat litter box for a larger snake or an opaque plastic container for a smaller snake. Cut a hole in the container that is larger enough for the snake to go through and then press the upside down container into the substrate material in the terrarium
3.Choose substrate materials to line the bottom of the terrarium. Substrate is the material that lines the bottom of your snake’s terrarium. This material soaks up urine and feces so that it is not just sitting at the bottom of the terrarium. You can purchase substrate materials that are made specifically for snakes in most pet stores.
- For an easy, cheap substrate material, line the bottom of the terrarium with several layers of shredded newspaper.
- Aspen and pine shavings are also a good choice for substrate materials, but it’s important that you make sure they don’t contain timber treatments or volatile oils, which are toxic to snakes.
- You can also purchase a special reptile “carpet” for the bottom of the terrarium.
- Avoid using fine sands, cat litter, or dirt.
- Research what type of substrate is best for the species of snake you have.
4.Get some rocks and climbing branches. Snakes need to be able to climb on branches and bask on rocks. These behaviors mimic life in the wild, so they are essential to keeping your snake happy and healthy. You can purchase climbing branches and basking rocks for your snake in most pet stores, or you can get rocks and branches from outside.
- A ground dwelling snake will need multiple basking rocks and a climbing branch, while a snake that is known for climbing, such as a corn or milk snake, will need multiple climbing branches.
- If you do introduce rocks or branches from outside, then make sure that they are clean first. You will need to rinse the rocks with warm water to clean it and boil rocks in water for 30 minutes. Clean branches by rinsing them with warm water and then place them in the oven at 200 °F (93 °C) to 250 °F (121 °C) for 30 minutes.
5.Set up the heat lamp. Snakes are cold-blooded, so all snakes require at least one heat lamp to ensure that they stay warm. Reptile heating lamps and other devices are available in most pet stores and they are designed to be attached to the terrarium or placed inside of it.
- Incandescent bulbs will provide heat and light for your snake, and the higher the wattage, the more heat the bulb will give out. You may only need one for a small terrarium, or you may need a few for a large terrarium.
- You can also purchase special heating pads to go underneath the terrarium, which will help to keep your snake warm at the bottoms of the enclosure as well.
- Never let your snake come into direct contact with a heating pad or other type of heating device—direct contact with a heating device can cause serious burns.
6.Purchase a thermometer and hydrometer to keep track of heat and humidity. Every snake breed has a different heat and humidity requirement, so find out what the optimal conditions are for your snake. The thermostat in your home will not be enough to determine if it is warm enough for your snake. You will need to place a thermometer and a hydrometer in the terrarium to ensure that the conditions are optimal for the snake.
- If the temperature is too low, then you may need an additional heating lamp or a higher watt bulb.
- If the enclosure is not humid enough, then you may need to place a wet towel or an additional water dish in the cage to increase the humidity, or remove some of the water from the terrarium to lower the humidity.
- It’s a good idea to place a thermometer at each end of the terrarium so you can keep one end cooler than the other. That way your snake can move to a different side of the terrarium if it’s too hot or cold.
2.Feeding Your Snake.
1.Stock a freezer with “prey items.” While snakes in the wild need to hunt their prey, many pet snakes are willing to eat mice and rats that are already dead. You can purchase dead mice and rats in pet stores that are called “prey items.” Keep a dozen of these in a freezer to feed your snake as needed.
- It is best to avoid placing the “prey items” in the same freezer as your own food. You may want to consider purchasing a small freezer where you only keep food for your snake.
- Research your species of snake to find out what kind of food is best for it.
2.Feed a young or small snake more often than a mature or large snake. Smaller or younger snakes need to eat twice per week, while larger or older snakes only need to eat once every 1 to 3 weeks. A female snake may also need to eat more after as breeding season approaches. Make sure to check with your veterinarian if you are unsure about how often to feed your snake.
- Your snake’s behavior is a helpful cue for how often to feed it as well. For example, if your snake ignores the food you provide it, then it might not be hungry yet. However, if it quickly devours the food as soon as you feed the snake, then it might need to be fed more often.
3.Wiggle the “prey item” for your snake if it refuses to eat. Sometimes a pet snake will seem uninterested in “prey items” and refuse to eat them. If your snake seems to ignore the food, then try wiggling it in front of its face. This may be enough to get its attention and entice your snake to eat the food
4.Cover the tank while your snake eats. Covering the terrarium with a cloth may also help if the snake refuses the food at first. Try placing a dark cloth over the terrarium and leaving the snake alone for about 30 to 60 minutes
5.Provide live prey only if your snake rejects dead prey. If the snake will still not eat the prey item, then you may need to purchase live prey for the snake. You can purchase live mice and rats in pet stores that are bred to be fed to snakes. If you feed the snake live prey, then you will also have to watch the snake to ensure that it catches and eats its prey. Otherwise, there is a chance that the panicked rodent may attack the snake, and this can seriously injure your pet snake
6.Keep your snake’s water dish clean and full. Make sure that the snake always has access to fresh, clean water in a ceramic dish. Change the water daily and check it often to ensure that there is no substrate, feces, or other particles in the dish
3.Handling your snake
1.Hold your snake only after it has eaten 4 meals in its new home. Before holding the snake for the first time, you will need to feed it 4 separate meals. This will help to ensure that the snake feels comfortable in its new home.
2.Avoid holding the snake while it is still digesting it’s food. Snakes swallow their food whole, and you will notice a bulge in the snake’s body as the food is being digested. It may be uncomfortable to a snake to be handled while it is in the process of digesting its food, so wait to hold it until the bulge is no longer visible.
3.Support the snake with your hands under the middle 1/3 of its body. Never hold a snake by the head or tail. The ideal place to hold a snake is underneath its belly in the middle 1/3 of its body. This will be more comfortable for the snake and it will make it easier for you to hold the snake as well
Consider getting a snake hook. A snake hook may make it easier for you to retrieve your snake from its enclosure, especially if it is in a large terrarium. Snake hooks are also helpful for preventing your snake from mistaking your hand for food. By consistently using a snake hook to get the snake out of its terrarium, it will learn that the hook means that it is time to be handled.
- To use the hook, slide it under the snake’s body until it is at the beginning of the mid-section of the snake, and then gently lift the snake up and out of its enclosure. Place your hand under the snake’s belly as it moves over the hook and put the hook down when you have a secure hold on the snake.
4.Keeping Your Snake Healthy
1.Pay attention to when your snake sheds its skin. Snakes shed their skin most frequently when they are young, but even an adult snake will still shed about once every 3-6 months. Pay attention to when your snake sheds its skin to get an idea of its shedding pattern. If it has not shed in a while, then you may need to take it to the veterinarian to ensure that everything is okay.
2.Keep the snake’s habitat clean. Spot clean your snake’s terrarium at least once a week and do a full tank cleaning about once per month. Pick up small messes and change out your snake’s water when you do a daily spot cleaning. Disinfect the entire inside of the cage and all of the items in the cage when you do a full cleaning. Always wear gloves and goggles when you clean the enclosure and wash your cleaning tools and hands thoroughly after because snake dwellings can house nasty bacteria, such as salmonella.
- Important cleaning items to have on hand include cleaning brushes, buckets, snake-safe cleanser, paper towels, cotton swabs, a sand sifter (for sand substrates), dish washing detergent, and sponges.
- You will also need a backup terrarium to place the snake in whenever you clean its enclosure.
3.Take the snake to a veterinarian for any health concerns. You may want to get an initial veterinary checkup for your snake to ensure that it is healthy and to get more information on how to care for your particular breed of snake. If you are ever concerned that your snake might be sick, then the best thing you can do is take it to the veterinarian. Some common signs that your snake might be sick include:
- Being lethargic and hiding or burying itself.
- Not eating for weeks or months.
- Having a pink hue on its underside (sign of sepsis).
- Staying limp rather than coiling up when you touch it.
- Not shedding completely.
- Having sunken eyes.
Remember that every species of snake / reptile needs to be cared for a little differently, so before you design and set up its habitat, research that individual species. For more Professional advice and any stock that you may need check out – George Pets & Aquatics
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