Snake Facts

So You Say You Want a Snake?

If all the facts about snakes that you know you learned from the movie Snakes on a Plane, you might be forgiven for thinking that snakes are naturally aggressive and mean. But that’s just not true. The truth is that snakes are interesting creatures, and many of them are pretty passive. So if you’re thinking of getting one, or merely interested in learning a little more before you decide to think of getting one, we have plenty of information and resources to teach you all about snakes and how to care for them.

The Snake Diet

All snakes are carnivorous critters. So it’s no good to try to tempt them with a lovely salad, they’re not going to be interested. It’s meat, meat, meat all the way with them. You do have some options when it comes to feeding time. Most pet stores keep a stock of live mice to be sold as food for snakes, and most will, on request, kill the mouse for you so that you do not have to handle a live mouse yourself, or so you can drop it into a zippered storage bag and store it in a freezer for later. In fact, this is an excellent way to stock up on food for your snake. When it is feeding time you just allow the mouse to warm to room temperature before dropping it into the snake tank (frozen mice can make your snake feel ill).

Of course, you can also keep the mouse alive and drop it into the snake tank as it is, allowing the snake to take care of business. A word of caution: do first make sure that your snake is hungry, since you don't want the mouse to stay alive too long in the tank, possibly biting the snake before the snake has a chance to 'bite' the mouse. Snakes are generally not big eaters. Sometime between every 5-14 days is best, but you will get an idea of how often to feed your snake depending on how ravenous it appears to be when it is feeding time. While some snakes are perfectly fine with eating already dead mice, others prefer their food to be still breathing. It is recommended that you begin with dead mice if that is what you plan to stick with, since it may be harder to switch to dead if you have already been feeding live mice all along.

Your Very Own Snake Skin Snake

Now, we all know that snakes are covered in scales, but even so, a lot of people assume that snakes will be slimy, like worms. They are not. Rather, they are dry, surprisingly soft, and smooth to the touch. The scales lay flat against the body, so that when you rub against the natural lay of the scales, it has a rough feeling – comparable to very dry skin, or a cat's tongue. Don't let curiosity get you into any trouble though. If you want to pet a snake, go to a pet store, or visit a friend who has a snake. Do not attempt to handle a snake in the wild, especially if you’re in Australia, where seven of the ten deadliest snakes in the world reside.

Physically, snakes rely strongly on their ability to sense heat and vibration; being ground animals they are sensitive to even the slightest vibrations. Though they have no external ears, they can hear, and their ability to smell is very keen. Eyesight is not one of their strongest suits, thought some are better than others. Mainly, they can see enough to track movement. The snake's main sensory organ is the tongue, which they use to find their way around the world. A snake with its tongue out is a healthy and knowledgeable snake.

  Next >

Explore Reptile & Amphibian Center