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Beginner snakes?

Discussion in 'Colubrids *General*' started by Char, Dec 25, 2005.

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  1. Char

    Char Active Member

    Hi,
    Hope I'm posting this in the correct area. My 11 year old son would really like a snake. I'm not so sure about this. I have a fear of snakes. I told him I would research and "Maybe" next year for his birthday we would get one (either that or he waits until he's 18 and gets his own place lol). Anyways, we're not new to reptiles. We already have a waterdragon and a 2 leo's.
    Are there any snakes that are good for beginners? Not aggressive, don't get too big, hopefully eat nothing bigger than a fuzzie (frozen,thawed preferable). If any suggestions can you give me some good web sites to look at for care, housing requirements, etc.? He helps take really good care of his lizards but I know this is not something he is old enough to do by himself so I do have to be prepared to help when medical attention and stuff is needed. Day to day care of the leo's he does by himself. He keeps a log with temps, feeding, etc. I help him with cage cleaning for the leo's so I know this is something I would have to help him do. Of course he could hold the snake and I could clean. lol But when it comes to going to the vet he is in school most of the time so I take the girls (leo's) and Zilla (wd).
    Anyways, any suggestions would be good. Like I said, we are only "thinking" about it at this time and I am definitely in no rush to run out and get one to make him happy. lol ;)
     
  2. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    The best beginner snake is a cornsnake. They come in a variety of colors, are generally very docile and easy to care for.
    They will eventually take larger mice or small rats. -- I don't know any snakes that take fuzzies as adults.
    Check out Rich's caresheet here: http://www.herpcenter.com/showthread.php?t=6976
     
  3. Brittone05

    Brittone05 Elite Member

    Can anyone verify for me how good Royal Pythons are s beginner snakes? I have been told either corns or royals as I too am considering expanding into the snake section!! Thanks
     
  4. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    I have a Royal and love him to pieces, but I would NOT recommend one as a beginner snake. They tend to be quite shy and they often refuse to eat and sometimes go on fasts for months.
    This is always extremely frustrating, worrying and stressful for the owner... just check out the Ball Python section here on HC and read how many posts start with "Help, my ball python won't eat!"
    They are great snakes but I don't think they're suitable for beginner keepers.
     
  5. Char

    Char Active Member

    Great. Thanks. I'll check this site out. Do you know of any reputable breeders?
     
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I second that! Cornsnakes are the tops as a beginner snake. They are docile, easily housed and feed readily on F/T prey. They are going to take food bigger than fuzzies eventually. Any snake that is going to take fuzzies alone as an adult is going to be very small. Too small to really be a good handling size for a youngster.
    I used to suggest Ball pythons as a good beginner's snake but between their humidity needs and their feeding cycles I feel they are a bit much for a beginner. I have 2 and they are tops among my list of favorite snakes. However my male routinely stops feeding in November and doesn't feed again til March or April. Even knowing that this is normal doesn't stop you from worrying about it. I have been going through this for several years and every year I still watch them like a hawk for any signs of something going wrong. Some are a pain to feed to begin with and then when you throw in the tendency for them to fast for months during the winter it can drive you nuts! I still think balls are a great intermediate snake. Something to step up to but until you have a few snake years under your bet its better to start with something that is a bit simpler to deal with.
     
  7. Manhirwen

    Manhirwen Elite Member

    I recently got a couple of corns and adopted a ball python as a rescue and I love them all, I'd have to say though that the corn snakes are way easier than the ball python but that may be because he is injured and I have to give him medical treatment every 12 hours. I'd have to say you'd be best off starting with a cornsnake, they are really easy feeders from what I can tell and they are relatively simple to take care of for a snake.
     
  8. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    I don't live in the US, so I couldn't advise you on breeders, but I'm sure someone else here can. One of the best places to find a lot of breeders is at Reptile Expos.
    Good luck in your research!
     
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I too prefer to purchase my snakes from breeders at expos. I like to personally handle animals that I intend to purschase both to inspect them physically as well as checking out their temperment.
    A long standing staple of the cornsnake business is Kathy Love's http://www.corn-utopia.com/. In fact she wrote The Corn Snake Manual, the book most often recommended as a starting pont for perspective corn owners.
    There is also South Mountain Reptiles and Serpenco.
     
  10. Fran

    Fran Veteran Member

  11. Colleen

    Colleen Elite Member

    We just got 2 corn snakes as a beginner snake. Temperament is great (though the male seem more aggressive then the female), easy to handle, easy to house. One is a good eater the other has given us nothing but problems (still hasn't eaten a pinky). Though we are having difficulty with one of the snakes it would not stop me from buy another corn for my 11 year old.
     
  12. Char

    Char Active Member

    Ok...computer doesn't like me. Just wrote up a reply and lost it. :( This is the second time that's happened on different sites. lol Ok, here's the short of my last post. What do I look for as far as choosing a healthy snake? Obviously docile could also mean sick. With a lizard I check the obvious...nose, mouth, eyes, tail, legs, toes, watch him/her walk, general appereance, coloring. Thanks for all the help. Sorry about all the questions but I really know nothing about snakes. I'm off now (or at least I'll try once again) to go look at the care sheet and more sites on corn snakes. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.
     
  13. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    Choosing a healthy snake

    As far as choosing a healthy animal here are some things to look for:
    First, look at the snake in it's tank: Is the cage clean or dirty? (There should not be feces, urates or old shed skins in the tanks.)
    If there are other snakes in the tank too, do they look sick? (Bad signs are open-mouth breathing, wheezing, and bubbles or discharge from the nostrils.) If you see anything like that, leave the store and don't buy anything from them. DO NOT buy an unhealthy-looking animal with the idea of nursing it back to health... it's not worth it. Herp veterinarians are not the cheapest and a respiratory infection is quite contagious and can be difficult to treat.
    Look closely around the eyes and along the lighter parts of the snake's skin. Tiny moving brown or black dots are mites (blood-sucking parasites that spread quickly) If your snake or the cage has a heavy white powder, it could be Sevin dust (used to treat mites.)
    Mites are treatable with very strict quarantine procedures, but you'd rather not have them if you can avoid it.
    Ask to hold the snake. Check again for any signs of illness (open-mouth breathing, wheezing, and bubbles or discharge from the nostrils) and look at the underside of it's chin. The mental groove is a slit on the lower jaw and a common place for mites or ticks to hide.
    The snake should crawl around in your hands, flicking its tongue. The body should be smooth and firm, with no sores, cuts or lumps. The eyes should be bright and clear and its mouth should close completely.
    Ask the seller to open the snake's mouth for you. The inside of the mouth should be clean... there should be no cuts or thick cheesy material (mouth rot).
    Ask the seller for as much information as they can give you. Birthdate of the snake, when it last ate (and what it ate),how often it is fed, when it last shed and when it last defecated. (If the snake is kept with other snakes or if they don't keep records of that detail, they probably can't tell you the last one.)
    Make sure you find out exactly what conditions the snake needs to be kept in and have everything set up and temps/humidity tested for a few days before bringing your snake home. Print out our care sheet on cornsnakes here: http://www.herpcenter.com/f109-cornsnake.html
    I recommend keeping the snake in quarantine conditions (away from your other herps) for 3 months to be sure you don't have mites or other problems that could affect your other reptiles. I advise keeping new additions in a rubbermaid-type container (with a good tight lid!), with a human-type heat pad (no automatic shut off!)under one third of the box. You'll also need a small water dish, papertowel substrate and two hide boxes: one on the warm side of the box and one on the cool side. You'll want a good thermometer/hygrometer on each side of the box too. Make sure to get a few frozen mice of the size recommended by the seller. You'll want your snake eating frozen-thawed rodents. (Live food can attack and sometimes kill a snake!) There's info here about feeding F/T: http://www.herpcenter.com/showthread.php?t=2754 -- the trick is to make sure the food is completely defrosted and then warmed up before feeding to the snake (I use a hair-dryer to warm up rats for my snakes)
    (Well, that's a start... hope it helps!)
     
  14. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Blackjack has pretty much covered the bases.
    There is a big difference between a snake that is docile yet is active, curious, strong and controlled in its movements and a snake that is sick. If you pick up a hatchling corn and it just lays there,... its sick. They will be active, they just won't make it a point to try to eat your fingers.
     
  15. Brittone05

    Brittone05 Elite Member

    Thanks everyone - I have now decided to ignore advice about getting a Royal!! I am not experienced with snakes and would end up panicking about fasting issues etc. I have fell in love with corn snakes particulrly the lavender morphs and the motleys. I shall keep you posted of my advancement towards becoming a snake keeper lol :)
     
  16. Fran

    Fran Veteran Member

  17. Brittone05

    Brittone05 Elite Member

    Thanks for the link Fran. I also have a care sheet from a lady called Tanya. She is one of the UK's most recognised and successful breeders of corn snakes. She is the ONLY breeder in the UK to offer lavender motleys and silver queen ghosts! I would not be getting a snake for at least another 3-6 months - I feel I have to allow myself this amount of time to leanr properly and make sure that it is a part of herping that I do truly wish to branch in to - not that I just like the thought of! I wouldn't like to have a snake on my hands that I didn't really think I was competant enough to look after. I shall let you all know of my final decision :)
     
  18. ReptileMan27

    ReptileMan27 Elite Member

    Corns are hands down best begginer snakes IMO.
     
  19. chris7033

    chris7033 Elite Member

    hey britone i use tanyas site too really good care sheet..although the one here is too :p i also breed sliverqueens : D
     
  20. DarkMagician207

    DarkMagician207 Elite Member

    corns are definitely a great beginner snake. was my first snake and i loved him so much i got another! and i plan to get more. :D
     
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