New Snake Parent Looking For Advice
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New Snake Parent Looking For Advice

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New Snake Parent Looking For Advice
Old 03-04-2014, 04:03 AM   #1
 
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New Snake Parent Looking For Advice

So we bought our first snake last week. He's a sand boa and we named him Carrot (at least he didn't stick with Kakarot! ). A lot of the information we were told was wrong for him (like him needing a bright light during the day which causes him to hide because it's so bright!), so I am asking all my awesome fellow crazy fish people to please guide me to a good forum or site with accurate information. Forums can be as broad or as specialized as you see fit. I know all of you love your pets and take excellent care of them, so I know if anyone can help us, y'all can.

P.S. A coworker of my aunt wants to get rid of a corn snake and we know zilch about them. Any info on them would be great too just in case we decide to get him too.
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:06 AM   #2
 
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hi
congrats on the new pet.
i have no experience with snakes what so ever …sorry…however
there was a reptile site i visited some time ago,and although UK based
it may have some information that may help… RFUK.com
failing that…type into google snake forums..and there maybe something
better
i hope you find what you're looking for…please keep an update going,
and pictures if you're able would be lovely.
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:29 AM   #3
 
What sized enclosure is he in? You need to make sure you have a hide on the warm and cool side as well as a water dish on the cool side. If you go the heat lamp route, get red or blue night bulbs. You will need three thermometers with a probe (I personally use Acu-Rites because it's cheaper and you'll only need one and an extra probe thermometer). Heat tape (I get mine at Reptile Basics pre-wired) is the best thing you can get to control the temperature in the tank and, with all heating methods, you will need a thermostat. I personally use two Hydro-Farms. Set one heat mat up on the warm side, place the thermostat probe on top of the heat mat in the center and UNDER the tank and set it to what you need and do the same with the cool side. ALWAYS put the thermostat probe between the heat mat and the tank as close to the center as possible!!

With the exception of the heat tape (I recommend the 12" for anything 10 gallons and up) I didn't go looking for the lowest price I could find with the items, I just wanted to show you the model you need. I don't know a lot about sand boas but I can help you to the best of my ability. I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for about 8 years now. If you go to my fish tanks, you can see my boa's set-ups. I suggest something similar for the corn snake. I have different hides in there, now, however. I got the hides from reptile basics because they are super easy to clean. Always remember with hides, the snake needs to fit snuggly into them (it'll look like it won't fit) or they don't feel secure.

Do not feed your snake or handle it much, if at all, for the next 4 weeks and keep it away from any other reptiles you may have (including the corn). Snakes, like fish, need quarantine procedures. If you have any questions, let me know. I also want to add, the snake forums out there are crap. I've been to a few and they honestly are giving bad info and are very rude to newcomers most of the time. Just research, research, research! I have some ins with snake breeders so if I can't help you with something, I'll give them a call!
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Old 03-04-2014, 11:29 AM   #4
 
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Wow! Thanks for all the info

I have been googling my butt off, but there is so much conflicting information out there! It's tough to know what's right.

I have a digital thermometer/hydrometer (sp?) on the hot side with the probe buried in the center of the aspen. I have an analogue on the cold side. I've been keeping his home at 92 degrees, but with the cold front last night, I can't get it higher than 87 today with both the heat pad AND light on (staying with dad until move next month and he doesn't have central heat and air, so house is upper 50s to low 60s right now). Humidity is 25% and yes, water is on cool side. At least I did that part and the heat pad right.

He has a purple night light. I have it all on timers. 13hr day and 11hr night. What should we look for in bulbs? I want to get him something less bright for day but will still put off the heat and rays he needs.

We had no idea that he needed a small cave! We just got a hide that we thought would work for him as an adult too. He currently has a good layer of aspen bedding and a nice piece of wood on the hot side he likes to curl under, so hopefully that will work until we can either find hun a proper hide or drive to where we will be getting supplies and get him one.

We were misinformed by the woman at PetSmart about a lot of things. She said a 10gal would be big enough for life, but that's only if he is truly a male! Females need a 20gal. We think he is a male from looking online, but having never seen a female, it's only an educated guess.

He ate 2 pinkies his first feeding without issue. We have a separate critter carrier to feed him in and will feed him each Sunday. We warmed them by placing them in a sealed sandwitch baggie and soaking the baggie in warm water for about an hour to bring their temp up to about what it would have been alive. I took them out and let them sit to make sure they were completely thawed and then placed them back in the baggie in the water to stay warm while he got Carrot. We fed him with tongs.

The problem with him is that he actually enjoys being held! It was quite a shocker for us as we were told not to handle him for the first few weeks while he settled. We decided to handle him 30-45 minutes a day except on Sundays and Mondays. We wash our hands up to the elbow with dishwashing liquid before and after handling him and rinse very well. Is there any set limit on how long or often a snake can be held? I know they're cold blooded and I would hate to keep him out of his heat longer than I'm supposed to.
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Old 03-04-2014, 03:35 PM   #5
 
Quote:
I have a digital thermometer/hydrometer (sp?) on the hot side with the probe buried in the center of the aspen. I have an analogue on the cold side. I've been keeping his home at 92 degrees, but with the cold front last night, I can't get it higher than 87 today with both the heat pad AND light on (staying with dad until move next month and he doesn't have central heat and air, so house is upper 50s to low 60s right now). Humidity is 25% and yes, water is on cool side. At least I did that part and the heat pad right.
Analog thermometers can be innacurate up to 15 degrees, I suggest swapping that with another digital.

Quote:
He has a purple night light. I have it all on timers. 13hr day and 11hr night. What should we look for in bulbs? I want to get him something less bright for day but will still put off the heat and rays he needs.
Snakes actually do not need UVB rays, so just get a blue, purple or red bulb of the correct wattage to get the temp you need and he will be fine.

Quote:
We had no idea that he needed a small cave! We just got a hide that we thought would work for him as an adult too. He currently has a good layer of aspen bedding and a nice piece of wood on the hot side he likes to curl under, so hopefully that will work until we can either find hun a proper hide or drive to where we will be getting supplies and get him one.
I personally use plastic microwave dinner containers as hides for my boas I have now. Improvise, he won't mind!

Quote:
We were misinformed by the woman at PetSmart about a lot of things. She said a 10gal would be big enough for life, but that's only if he is truly a male! Females need a 20gal. We think he is a male from looking online, but having never seen a female, it's only an educated guess.
How are you attempting to sex him?

Quote:
He ate 2 pinkies his first feeding without issue. We have a separate critter carrier to feed him in and will feed him each Sunday. We warmed them by placing them in a sealed sandwitch baggie and soaking the baggie in warm water for about an hour to bring their temp up to about what it would have been alive. I took them out and let them sit to make sure they were completely thawed and then placed them back in the baggie in the water to stay warm while he got Carrot. We fed him with tongs.
I wouldn't feed again for 4 weeks. Moving and environmental changes are hard on a snake. You could really harm him should he decide to regurgitate his meal due to stress. Also, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop feeding in a separate container. This will make them associate your hands with food! What you need to do is called hook training. Get a snake hook or paper towel roll and stroke the snake on the back before you pick him up to handle him, do not touch him with the hook when you are about to feed him. You are also improperly thawing your rodents which can make him very ill. You need to thaw the mouse in room-temperature water (should only take about 30 min) and then run it under warm water to heat it up to temp. Feeding two prey items is also harmful for snakes. You should feed one appropriate-sized item a feeding. Appropriate sized being just big enough that it will leave a small, almost unnoticeable lump in the largest part of its body.

Quote:
The problem with him is that he actually enjoys being held! It was quite a shocker for us as we were told not to handle him for the first few weeks while he settled. We decided to handle him 30-45 minutes a day except on Sundays and Mondays. We wash our hands up to the elbow with dishwashing liquid before and after handling him and rinse very well. Is there any set limit on how long or often a snake can be held? I know they're cold blooded and I would hate to keep him out of his heat longer than I'm supposed to.
I know it's hard not to handle a new snake, but for the sake of his health, please don't handle him for at least 3 weeks and never handle a snake after feeding. You have to not handle him two full days after the feeding day. So, if you feed him Monday, you can't handle him until Thursday. Feeding in the afternoon means you can handle him up until then, though. Just give him his "acclimation" period. It really is important that you don't handle him. Once this period is over you can handle him as much as you like as long as he stays warm. Our bodies are naturally 98F so you are like a moving heat pad.
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:52 PM   #6
 
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Thanks Flint. Here are my responses to your replies. Some are questions, some are observations, and some represent my confusion over ideas or conflicting information.

1) I noticed the analogue problem, but we had a bunch of unexpected expenses come up out of nowhere with the move and my dad becoming sick and needing my help. It will make the next two months tough. I'm hoping to get by with just the one until then.

2) I had read that, but they told me snakes HAD to have UVB rays, so again I was misinformed. What about maintaining a day/night cycle?

3) We tried to improvise, but he likes his stick! XD

4) I'm not popping or probing if that's what your asking. Most websites site the length and shape of a sand boa's tail as good indicators of gender. That's what I looked for.

5) 4 WEEKS! Every website says once a week at his age and the PetSmart people and the pamphlet say it too. Why so long? And why should I not feed him in a separate container? Every site and guide says to do it so they don't accadently injest their bedding or become aggressive due to associating your hand with food.

He is showing no signs of destress and ate without problems or regurgitation. He didn't even have a bump after swallowing the pinkies.

I've been rubbing my finger down his back like a feather before picking him up. He responds well. The hook thing confuses me. Wouldn't me using my hand for petting and play while using the tongs for feedings do the same thing?

I wasn't sure how to warm them. All I knew was to not get them wet. I was worried that they weren't warm enough and make him sick. Thank you.

Just one? The woman at the store said he should eat 2 to 3 pinkies a week. I'll try only feeding him one next time.

6) I'm not handling him because I can't wait to; I'm handling him because he shows positive reactions toward being held and affection with him sometimes crawling to my hand and into it when I mess with his tank. And like I said in the earlier post, we handled him every day save Sunday and Monday. Sunday is feeding day and Monday for him to relax. We feed after dark.

Thanks for clearing up the body heat thing. It's great to know.
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:13 PM   #7
 
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Sorry if I sound like I'm arguing with you. I'm not. There's just too much conflicting info out there. I don't know which is right.

Also, I have a confusing situation now. Once the house heated up, I went to check the tank to find the hot side reading to be 117 degrees F! The craziest part is the fact Carrot was laying on that side right over the pad. I would have turned it off if he had been trying to cool himself or something. Does that mean he likes it that warm? I read they like the hot side at 90-95.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:48 AM   #8
 
Quote:
2) I had read that, but they told me snakes HAD to have UVB rays, so again I was misinformed. What about maintaining a day/night cycle?
No, snakes do not need UVB. If snakes needed UVB me and every breeder in the world wouldn't be keeping them in tubs and racks with no lights. A day/night cycle outside of whatever room light he gets is not important, either.

Quote:
3) We tried to improvise, but he likes his stick! XD
Leave the stick and give him other options as well.

Quote:
4) I'm not popping or probing if that's what your asking. Most websites site the length and shape of a sand boa's tail as good indicators of gender. That's what I looked for.
The tail thing is horribly inaccurate. Popping isn't as harmful to the snake as people threaten. Don't do it unless you are comfortable, though.

Quote:
5) 4 WEEKS! Every website says once a week at his age and the PetSmart people and the pamphlet say it too. Why so long? And why should I not feed him in a separate container? Every site and guide says to do it so they don't accadently injest their bedding or become aggressive due to associating your hand with food.
You HAVE to give them a chance to settle, that's why so long. It is extremely stressful on a snake to be put in a new environment and have people constantly prodding and gawking at it. You shouldn't feed in a separate container because it makes the snake associate your hand with being fed (you have to pick him up to put him in the container and to remove him). Just place a paper plate, paper towel, or piece of newspaper on the substrate, place the prey on it and walk away. He knows what to do, I promise. When you move a snake after feeding it is undue stress that can ALSO cause regurgitation. It is not healthy for your snake. Period.

Quote:
He is showing no signs of destress and ate without problems or regurgitation. He didn't even have a bump after swallowing the pinkies.
Stress is not easily identifiable in snakes. Also, just because he didn't have issues this time, doesn't mean he won't next time. I am trying to help you by giving you the information that I have learned and practiced in my years of keeping and breeding these lovely creatures. I learned everything I know from successful breeders.

Quote:
I've been rubbing my finger down his back like a feather before picking him up. He responds well. The hook thing confuses me. Wouldn't me using my hand for petting and play while using the tongs for feedings do the same thing?
You don't use the hook for petting and play, you use it before hand so he knows he's about to be picked up and not fed. Using your hand/tongs, the snake will still see your hand with the tongs. It is just another way to associate your hand with food.

Quote:
I wasn't sure how to warm them. All I knew was to not get them wet. I was worried that they weren't warm enough and make him sick. Thank you.
You can thaw them in water without a bag should you please. There is no reason not to get them wet. I feed wet prey when I get dehydrated rescues.

Quote:
Just one? The woman at the store said he should eat 2 to 3 pinkies a week. I'll try only feeding him one next time.
You need to be feeding one appropriately sized (this means a little bigger than his biggest part) prey item a feeding. If the pinkies didn't leave a bump, you need a larger prey item. Don't just feed him one pinky, it isn't enough food.

Quote:
6) I'm not handling him because I can't wait to; I'm handling him because he shows positive reactions toward being held and affection with him sometimes crawling to my hand and into it when I mess with his tank. And like I said in the earlier post, we handled him every day save Sunday and Monday. Sunday is feeding day and Monday for him to relax. We feed after dark.
Again, I am giving you the information you asked for. It is your choice to take my advice and heed my warnings or not. If you can wait, I HIGHLY suggest waiting for the sake of his health.

Quote:
Thanks for clearing up the body heat thing. It's great to know.
I regularly handle my snakes for 5-6 hours at a time. They go shopping with me a lot. As long as it isn't cold enough in the room for you to need a sweater, the snake will get enough heat off of you.

Quote:
Sorry if I sound like I'm arguing with you. I'm not. There's just too much conflicting info out there. I don't know which is right.
Again, I am giving you the information that has been working for myself and other breeders for years, even decades in some cases. It's the same thing with bettas, most information out there promotes 1/8 gallon bowls, when we know that is not correct. It is ultimately your decision and your snake.

Quote:
Also, I have a confusing situation now. Once the house heated up, I went to check the tank to find the hot side reading to be 117 degrees F! The craziest part is the fact Carrot was laying on that side right over the pad. I would have turned it off if he had been trying to cool himself or something. Does that mean he likes it that warm? I read they like the hot side at 90-95.
You WILL cook your snake this way. This is why thermostats are SOOOOOO important. If this continues, I promise you, you will end up with a dead snake. Please please please invest in a thermostat for this EXACT reason. 117 is NOT healthy whether the snake moved or not.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:10 PM   #9
 
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i just want to chime in here as although i have not kept a snake
i have kept other reptiles,and i will agree anyone with an exotic
pet that needs some form of electrical heating needs to be attached
to a thermostat….not only to protect the animal,also a preventative
of possible house fire.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:11 PM   #10
 
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Thanks. We can no longer get the Corn Snake unfortunately but helping my dad is far more important now. Between helping him and the added expense of hiring an electriction and plumber (dad is retired lineman and also use to do construction so originally he was going to do that and place the dirt pad) for the new house, we are suddenly very strapped for cash. The nearest pet store is 40 minutes away, so in my following posts when I say we will do it this weekend, it is because we have business there then and can combine the trip.

More replies...

1) Thanks for clearing that up. I HATED the bright light anyway. So how do I regulate a day night temp? Or should it be constant?

2) Got it. I will return the cave for one of the correct size. Aldo, have you ever heard of a humitity box?

3) Really? Well THAT'S great. Now instead of an educated guess, it's a coin toss -_-

4) Okay. He won't get too hungry or starve will he? That's a LOT of missed feedings. And the separate container thing is bad even when we let him sit an hour in the dark before moving him back?
By the way, what do you think of these sites? Is it good information? Is anything wrong?
Kenyan (East African) Sand Boas (Eryx colubrinus)
The Sand Boa Page - Care Sheets

5) It sounds like you're pretty experienced. Thank you for agreeing to help me sift through all the false information. What snakes do you have? I would love to see pictures. Have you ever had a Sand Boa?

6) Okay. Now I see what you mean about hook training. I can totally see that. The feeding in cage still scares me with all the stories out there of snakes dying from ingesting bedding while eating. Any thoughts on a cloth snake bag? I have not clue what it is, but maybe it would be a good alternative to feeding directly in the tank.

7) Good to know. They told me to spray it with a calcium suplament because pinkies have low calcium content. Is that right?

8) I looked after he ate last week and saw no bump at all. Maybe I missed it? So does that mean I can feed him 2 of the pinkies instead of one like you said earlier? I bought a 6 pack which is why I'm asking. Also, what if fuzzies end up being too big for him?

9) I will do my best. What do I do when he comes to me when I'm changing his water and such? Do I ignore him? Pet him in tank? Pick him up only if he crawls into my hand?

10) That's WONDERFUL news! Thank you

11) *see 5

12) HOLY S***!!! I will. I tried to go to Walmart, but they have NOTHING for reptiles save for turtle food. I will turn his night light on and closely monitor it myself until we can go get one this weekend. I best check on him today and tomorrow to make sure the high temp didn't harm him.
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