Traveling with snakes

I was contacted by someone who wanted me to rehome her Cornsnake, he was 14yrs old, the reason was that the person was relocating a long distance drive away, as I travel often with my snakes I offered assistance on how to take her snake with her.

  1. Pack the snake into a pillow slip which it’s best to twist at the top turn over and tie around, this will prevent the snake escaping. Tied T shirt or even a continental quilt cover for a larger snake.
  2. Place the wrapped  snake into a plastic box with holes in or a cardboard box ( I use baskets ) as the snake isn’t used to traveling put a small piece of it’s furniture in the b0x or some substrate so that there is a smell of its home nearby, obviously nothing too heavy.
  3. The warmth in the car should be enough without extra heat ( I usually set my car temp at 21c which is not too hot for me but warm enough for snakes of any type for a short time) but a “warm” water bottle and a flask of hot water to top up in case the car becomes cold if you are leaving the car for any length of time i.e. stopping for refreshments. This can be placed in the box with the wrapped snake it’s important that the water bottle isn’t too hot!

When I moved with all the snakes in the sanctuary it was December and it was snowing! I bought lots of hot water bottles for them and when we arrived at our new home it wasn’t possible to unpack them all that night so we just heated the actual room that all the boxes were in until the next day when we needed to put all the vivariums back together and set them up.

I hope this is of some assistance for others who may need to travel with their snake/s.

Bio Active vivariums

Snakey Sue’s Serpent Sanctuary:

2016 was a busy year working in the Sanctuary.

WE WENT BIO-ACTIVE

All of the substrates in the vivariums were made bio active.

We purchased 24 slabs of coir, 8 bags of  top soil and two bags of play-sand plus tropical springtails, tropical woodlouse. We had a continual box of soaked coir on the go, to mix with the other ingredients.

Leaf litter came free and included some of our own woodlouse.

Sue  set up a plastic box to breed the insects and it has been very successful.

The aroma in the vivs is so much better – like the forest.

Dobi our largest Boa shed his skin and it was being munched up by the wood louse so it was left it in for them to finish off, still need to check for toilets especially with the larger snakes but any residue will be cleaned up by the insects so its make caring for the 50 snakes so much easier.

ROSE AND BOU

Rose and Bou

A video of Rose and Bou’s home two 500 watt heaters to keep them warm and two baths, lots of room to climb and stretch.

CREATING SPACE

As we still have 50 snakes to care for and not much chance of rehoming the larger ones we have decided to create spaces that are large enough for them to climb about. Rose and Bou are lucky that they have their room but to create another space for the large male Boa Constrictors meant making a large hole between the two 7ft vivariums with a branch for them to climb about. Dobi the 9ft x 20 kilo boy needs a giant box for a bath so that takes up a lot of space in the bottom viv now that there is access to the top vivarium I placed BoBo in with Dobi and Moses. BoBo was the last Boa to come and live in the sanctuary  –  there’s not enough space for any more.

BOY BOAS

We will try to work on some of the other vivariums to give the other residents more room, they live in 4 x 2s, 5 x 2 and 6 x 2 but I would still like them to have more space to roam.

Snake Sanctuary News

Snake Sanctuary News:

Sue cannot take in any more large snakes but can sometimes make room for smaller breeds.

She recently had a request for a corn snake and managed to rehome not just one but two.

These two, Flo and Diago, had always lived together so it would have been cruel to separate them. A father and son came to see them and decided they were the right snakes for them. They decided to rename them Alexis and Sanchez.

They send Sue updates and photos which is always appreciated.

One corn snake that had been rehomed came back ( which has been a common occurrence, sadly) His name is Wills I housed him in Flo and Diagos 4ft vivarium and he has a companion Libby who came to live at the sanctuary in 2014 in bad health but has picked up tremendously.

Also a new corn snake whose name was Kaa but as we already have a Kaa in the sanctuary his name was changed to Justin, which seems to suit him. He is 11yrs old and is a lovely natured snake.

Sadly many of the snakes in the sanctuary have become old and passed over the rainbow bridge in the last few years, recently we lost Bully and Clover

Bully

Bully

Clover

Clover

Originally Flo & Diago Rehomed

Originally Flo & Diago Rehomed

Wills and Libby

Wills and Libby

 

Justin

Justin

 

 

 

Boa care sheet

Boa constrictors can grow to 3mtrs (although I have never had one grow larger than 2mtrs) and Rainbow Boas 1.5mtrs . They all come from South America so they need a home to match the conditions in that country.

Until they are two years old the vivarium size need be no larger than 2΄ square. This home must have ventilation but no hole big enough for the baby snake to escape from, most first problems arise from snakes escaping. They sometimes escape by pushing between the two glass doors so check that there isn’t room for the snake to escape that way.  Glass tanks are never advisable as temps cannot be controlled properly, a wooden vivarium with glass sliding doors is the best habitat.

Hemp, Aspen or Orchid bark are all suitable substrates, these snakes need a some humidity so substrate that doesn’t go mouldy is essential.  This can be spot cleaned for about two months or until you think the whole lot needs throwing out and start with fresh. There are recommended cleansing fluids available from reptile shops, some pet shops and from Veterinary Surgeries. At the sanctuary we use the best F10.

Dependant on their appetite and growth rate a new home would probably be needed in about 2 to 3 years. The size needed when the snake is about 5 years old would be approx. 6΄ x 2΄ x  2 ΄ personally I prefer to give a snake as much room as possible for stretching, with plenty of furniture and hides.

Various heat sources are available and whilst the snake is young a heat-mat placed underneath the vivarium but with an airspace which means putting the viv. on top of two small plinths either side to lift it a little so that it does not rest on the mat. Alternatively you could stick the mat onto the side or the back of the viv. With packing tape. There are other forms of heating equipment, which although more expensive are safer, as heatmats can be a fire hazard (they are not supposed to be left on indefinitely) If I use heatmats I always keep them on a timer. In the larger vivarium it will be necessary to purchase a ceramic heater with casing to prevent the snake from burning itself by wrapping around it. the heater needs to be able to keep a stable temp of 29c in the hot spot, I ususally purchase a 250watt ceramic heater for this purpose also a Habistat temperature regulator is absolutely necessary; no extra light is necessary if the snake is in a normally lit room, light bulbs also give off heat so the vivarium may become too hot and a snake can wrap itself around an unprotected bulb and burn itself. If you do decide to use a light or heat bulb it should be covered with a metal cage so that the snake cannot wrap around it. A thermometer (preferably digital) is necessary to keep an eye on the temperature which can range between 21 cool end, 30c warm end.

The baby snakes will eat rat pups every 10 to 14 days. As the snake grows you need to increase the size of the food to weamer rats and then later moving on to  larger rats, an adult snake can eat quite a couple of large rats about once a month, these can be bought frozen and I would always advise to defrost at room temperature, not to use a microwave. You can also buy vitamin supplements from the sources already mentioned.

Do not worry unduly if the snake does not eat, a snake can go without food for up to four months. Only be concerned if the snake looks under the weather.

Some snakes will still eat even when going into a slough (skin shed) most will not. You will know when the snake is going to shed, first its eyes go grey and milky and the skin becomes duller or darker.

Handle your snake often as this will make it more sociable, except when it has just eaten, as it may regurgitate (be sick), leave the snake at least 5 days to rest after its meal and when it’s sloughing. Clean water must always be available, a bowl large enough for the snake to bathe in if it wants. I try, always, to give my snakes two bowls, one for bathing and a smaller one for drinking, a lid on the bathing bowl with an entrance hole makes it more attractive as then it becomes a hiding place too, I find Boas love to bathe. Sometimes a light misting with water is also appreciated.

Boas like a very slightly humid environment so it’s necessary to give the snake a box, with its lid, but with a hole cut into the lid big enough for the snake to go in, fill with damp peat and moss, this is especially appreciated when the snake is in slough (skin shedding). By the 4th or 5th year the snake will become sexually mature, as the snake grows older it will often go without food for two months or more at mating time, especially male snakes, don’t worry. But if you do, you can always ring me.

If you keep two snakes together never feed them together, an awful accident can happen where both snakes go for the same food. Take one snake out of the vivarium and  feed them separately.

Never touch their food with your fingers and then place your hand near the snake, it will probably think your hand is its food and bite it by mistake. Always use tweezers or some other tool to pick up the snakes food.

It can be a good idea to keep a separate container for feeding the snake, as it will get used to this idea and never think that a hand is the food coming into its house

Mites can sometimes appear on your snake, the eggs are as small as dust so they can be picked up in reptile shops or anywhere where there are other snakes. If you notice your snake lying in it’s water bowl all the time, it may be trying to drown the mites and you will notice the little black insects on it’s body and in the water. Put the snake overnight in a box, with a lid and airholes, half full of tepid water (refer to viv temps) put a smear of vegetable oil on the snakes face as the mites can migrate there but cannot live in oil. Clean the viv with reputable cleansing fluid, pour boiling water over the furniture in the viv i.e. the bowl, bark etc. Then replace everything including the snake, the next day. Continue to keep an eye on your snake as these insects suck their blood, can make the snake very ill and even kill it.

Keep a look out in the shop where you buy reptile food and accessories, as this is the most common place to pick them up, the eggs are like dust.

If your snake brings up it’s food (regurgitation) don’t feed it again for two weeks as it’s stomach will be sore and it could make the snake ill.

Boas are one of  my favourite snakes as they do get to know you and can make a really lovely animal companion, especially when they whisper in your ear.

P.S. This is a general care sheet for all types of Boa

 Always try to imagine how you would feel in the same circumstance as the snake, e.g. left all alone for days without sensing anything different, no wind, rain, sunshine. They can be very sensitive to the slightest movement or vibration and become nervous, without stimulation.

DSC_0912

One of the female rescue boas had babies, Boas produce live young so we now have some for sale and looking for good homes.

 

Snake husbandry

Snake husbandry – Snakey people don’t forget to keep your snakey’s cool in this hot weather don’t have the viv by a window, corn snakes and king snakes temps shouldn’t exceed 27c if it’s hot in your house give them a bowl of water to bathe in also a cooling bowl of damp moss is lovely for them. The snakes in the sanctuary always have a bath bowl and separate drinking bowl. A thermometer is necessary, people often forget to purchase the simplest of things, some really basic thermometers can be bought in the pound shop.

Snake Encounters – Native Species

Snake Encounters – Native Species

It’s a shame that the school curriculum doesn’t really include our native species of wildlife.  When I was a young girl I used to walk free with my Brother and our Eye-Spy books to see what wildlife we could get a glimpse of, it’s sad that children now mainly get their information from TV or the internet and really know nothing about the real world outside.

The problem is seen as peodophiles when actually the biggest danger which  is sadly ignored are motor cars, the love affair with the motor car has ruined not only childrens’ freedom to roam but ruined great swathes of  land and endangered our native wildlife.

Many people not just children have lost interest in nature, when I run Live Snake – Science presentations I like to have time to talk, also about our native species, 40 mins is about the most time I can be given to impart as much information as possible on snakes as well as allowing the children some touch and handle time and often I cannot fit the native species info into the presentation.

Here is a link to an RSPCA blog about our native species of snakes and slow worms.

 

http://blogs.rspca.org.uk/insights/2013/07/26/seen-any-snakes-this-summer/#.U7Wn6pRdWtM

Snakes for rehoming UK

Snakes for rehoming:

Its so sad for all the corn snakes and king snakes that come into the sanctuary now, as not many people want them anymore, fashion shouldn’t be with animals but sadly it is, morph royal Pythons and small species of Boa are the fashion now.

The corns and kings live 20 to 30 years, people were buying all the baby snakes from reptile and pet shops and so many people breeding them but sadly people just don’t keep them all of their lives, some people actually think they would be better off in a sanctuary!

They are so easy to keep and I feel that’s part of the reason, trapped in a vivarium and only need feeding once a month which means they don’t defecate too often either, change their water bowl once a week and there you have it, easy to neglect and forget that the snake may need a bit of TLC, all the fuss that was given to it when it was a baby and no-ones wants to bother anymore.

In fact they don’t need to be handled more than once a month to know your scent and that you are their carer and baby snakes should not really be handled too much, but that’s when they get handled the most. When they are adults they often get forgotten about and neglected this sometimes leaves them fearful of the strange hands the suddenly come into their home perhaps just to change the water bowl but the fearful snake will strike out and bite and the owner then says “it started biting” this is usually because of lack of handling, if this happens there is a simple solution, just place a small cloth over the snakes face and pick the snake up from behind, once the snake is out of its house it is usually fine to handle again and once it is handled more often it will not be afraid of the hands, as it will know them well

They do get handled here at the sanctuary so that they don’t become fearful, can you imagine what it would be like to be trapped in a box, fed and watered yes but nothing else, sometimes people even stop cleaning out their feces, their senses of smell and taste are very acute, how horrible that must be for them.

There is no natural weather or other animals moving around just solitary confinement.

At the sanctuary the female corn snakes and male corn snakes are kept together where possible, this gives them some sense of movement of another living creature around and this also means they need to be taken out of their vivarium to be fed, snakes cannot be fed in the same place as they may attempt to eat the same food leading to an accident, corn snakes do not fight one another.

King snakes need to live separately because they are snake eating species, which means they need handling occasionally here at the sanctuary other than taking them out to be fed, luckily we have some volunteers who will help to give them some extra attention.

Below are some photos of snakes looking for forever homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Descriptions of snakes starting from the left:

First is of Storm and Ziggy they are brother and sister all eggs that she lays are discarded, they came to the sanctuary 21st July 12 and are 9yrs old

Second is Naji he’s a very laid back kinda fella, not sure of his age probably 7/8yrs moved here 3rd July 2011

Third is Kellogs and Syrup as you can see by the photo it would be cruel to separate them, I believe they are approx 10yrs old came in 19th Nov 2012

Fourth is Wills, he is about 6yrs old he’s not keen on big crowds of people but would make someone a very special friend came in 19th July 2011

Fifth is Boosh the Whoosh she is quite a character and loves to hide in your jumper about she is 6yrs old and came in 30th July 2010

Sixth is Mizzy she was called misery guts because she bit the father of the boys who she was bought for, she was just a tiny baby 🙁 she’s a great little snake now came in 11th Sept 2010 making her age 4yrs.

Seventh is Genie she came in with Naji 3rd July 2011 and is 4yrs old and very sweet but also not keen on being handled by lots of people, Genie, Boosh and Mizzy all live together.

Eighth is Claudette, she was very difficult to handle when she came in 15th Oct 2010 and was re-homed at one point only to be brought back, over 3yrs we have calmed her and she lives with 3 other females who help her to be calm, she just needs special handling when she is taken out of her feeding box because she always thinks the hands are another dinner lol age unknown.

Ninth is Magic a Mexican Black King snake, he hasn’t been handled much for a long time but seems perfectly fine he came in 18th May 2013

Tenth is Cleo an Albino King snake (I believe Cleo to be male)  He is good to handle and would make someone a fabulous pet.

Any of these can be taken on presentation of a donation to the sanctuary and a home check.

Snake Keeping

Snake Keeping – A friend just asked me why do people keep snakes when they ought to be in their natural environment. Of course it would be easy if life were that simple.

Why keep any animal I suspect it because people love to have animals around them and gain much from their company.
Many snakes are endangered because of humans taking over every tiny corner of the earth and many humans hate snakes and will kill them immediately whether they are a danger to them or not.

Personally I believe that people should be educated about the types of animals that live in their local habitat; I’m sure this would have been the case years ago before people became uneducated about their locale.

I find it amazing how this lack of education has come about, but back to the subject some people keep snakes because they are beautiful to look at, some because they want to make lots of money from breeding special “morphs,”  myself I felt and feel that they have a special something to teach us and those in captivity are teachers as are many animals living with humans.

They have taught me tolerance and calmness, they are extremely therapeutic to hold and have contact with. Children often know this from the word go and fall in naturally with getting to know them, adults are set in their ways but when they realise what a wonderfully receptive creature they are to know and spend time with – they are literally bowled over and fall in love with them.

 

Relaxing with snakes

 

 

Snake Cuddling

Snake Cuddling is good for you and for the snake – snakes in captivity need some attention, many snakes come into the sanctuary because people neglected giving them a cuddle now and then.

Mostly people buy a snake and want to handle it everyday at the beginning but this isn’t a good idea for a baby snake, once a week is plenty and no handling  just after the snake has eaten, because it may make him regurgitate his food (be sick) also no handling when he is in slough (shedding his skin) you can tell when this is occurring because his eyes will change colour and look greyish or milky, this is because a liquid forms underneath the skin to help him to slough easily, strangely enough just before the snake sloughs his eyes clear and he can look as if he has sloughed but if there is no shed skin he will shed in a day or two.

Sadly its easy to get bored and neglect snakes because they are trapped in a vivarium and cannot beg for a cuddle, although often they will peek out and sometimes come to the glass for attention, but if no-one is looking then they get overlooked and neglected; it’s at this point that the keeper puts their hand into the vivarium to change the snakes water bowl, clean the vivarium or feed the snake that the keeper get bitten and wonders why. Snakes sense essentially by scent/smell so it’s important that they know the scent of their keeper that’s why it’s important to cuddle your snake from time to time – it doesn’t even have to be that often, but if the snake is fed outside of his vivarium in a separate box at least he will know the scent of the person that picks him up to feed him. Of course it’s much better to have a proper cuddle session from time to time it good for the snake and his keeper, cuddling a snake can be meditative, calming and therapeutic.

Many of the snakes come into the sanctuary because the keeper stopped cuddling them and the snake forgot whose large hand it was coming into his house and frightening him, I think many people forget that a vivarium however well kept and dressed up with caves and fake greenery is still a prison for a snake, no other creatures, no weather, solitary confinement – please cuddle your snake.

We try not to neglect any of the snakes at the sanctuary but the king-snakes are the most likely to get neglected as they cannot go out entertaining like most of the others do as often we take corn-snakes and other rat-snakes which happen to be dinner for king-snakes!! So we have to give the King-snakes special cuddles whenever we get a chance.

Below some pictures of Sue cuddling Cleo the King snake:

 

Happy Customers

Happy customers call us back every year to schools, fetes and fundays and sometimes we get calls from the same family wanting live snake encounters for each of their childrens birthdays.

We receive calls from people who have kept our number for five years or more!!

It’s so rewarding to take the snakes out to meet the public and see people of all age groups enjoy handling them, of  course the snakes enjoy getting out too, we try to  give them the best housing possible but it’s stimulating for them especially in the Summer months when they can enjoy some  outside air.

We would love to edutain customers closer to home too;  having lived and worked in the London area we are continually called back which is great but it would also be good to have more customers in North Essex it takes time for people to get to know a new face and begin to book someone new, after all we have happy customers going back to 1996 where we used to live.

We are making many new contacts and find North Essex a friendly place so we are looking forward to getting lots of interesting work here in the future.

Its also rewarding to be thanked, below are pictures of a thank you card which was sent to us from a kids holiday club this Summer.