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1st Snake & Reptile - Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Snakes - General' started by DrgnRebrn, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. DrgnRebrn

    DrgnRebrn Member

    I actually posted an almost-identical thread in the Hog Island thread over in the Boas Forum, but I am concerned it will not get looked at due to there being no activity in that forum since Dec 2014! So, I'm posting it here as well. I also think it is just as applicable as a General Snake post, and hope that you all will have some good suggestions and advice. Lastly, I'll say that I am completely open to any species &/or reptile.

    I'm looking to get a snake as my first reptile. I am torn between the Hog Island Boa and a Ball Python, and I'd like to get some input from Hog owners. Things I'm looking for in a snake:

    - Temperament. I have 3 young children (7, 6, & 3). I know snakes have individual personalities, but I would like a species that is generally known for having a good temperament. I also know there are other factors that influence this, such as the health of the animal, handling frequency & proper handling techniques, environment, stress, shed state, etc. I am looking for a snake species that would typically not be stressed out in a loud & active environment.

    - Size. I want a species that will not get any larger than 6 or 7 feet in length. Conversely, I am looking for something larger than 4 feet in length. Girth isn't that big of a deal to me, but one of the reasons I don't like Colubrids is because they are typically too skinny for my taste. From my research, Pythons & Boas seem to have several options that are ideal in size.

    - Curiosity. One of the biggest reasons I'm leaning towards Boas is because of their inquisitiveness. They come across as very curious, and seem to like exploring their environment and interacting, if you will, while being handled. What I don't want is an animal that will tend to be inactive while being held. I don't mind one that will chill, but I'm hesitant going with a Ball because of the "pet rock" reputation.

    - Speed. I know that any snake could probably take off quickly if it wants to, or is provoked. What I don't want is a hyper snake. Again, this is another of the reasons I don't like Colubrids. They seem to be extremely active while being handled. I don't want to have to constantly be maneuvering my hands in order to keep the snake in place.

    - Hardiness. So this may be the real item here. I've never cared for a reptile before, long-term. Like many of you, I grew up catching lizards, frogs, & snakes from my yard & the creek I grew up by. Long-term management of temperature, humidity, and the environment (controlling disease, parasites, etc.) will be new to me. I keep my house cool (night/day temps of 63/68 in the Winter & 66/72 in the Summer). Will this be an issue? I live in a high-altitude desert environment (SLC, UT). Will I have to take extra measures to control humidity? Having a species that is hardy, generally healthy, and can be forgiving of slight inconsistencies in their environment that may be caused by locality & my inexperience is very important to me. I'm not looking for a "set it & forget it" species, but I do want to make sure the species I choose is ideal for me, right now, and will allow me to learn without causing harm, serious illness, or even death to the animal.

    So, there you have it. My top 5 things I'm looking for in a snake. Is the Hog Island Boa the right choice for me? I've read that this is an "intermediate" species to own. Why is that? What differentiates a snake species from a "beginner," "intermediate," and even "expert" owner status? Should I stick with the typical Ball Python and get a Hog Island once I'm no longer a newb? Is a snake the right reptile to start with, or should I consider a lizard of some kind?

    I should note that I am 100% perfectly comfortable around non-venomous snakes. Furthermore, my Uncle, and roommate for several years (he's 9 months younger than me), owned a Columbian Red Tail Boa, raising her from 1 month in age until she died a couple years ago. Medusa was freakin' awesome! I loved how she'd chill on my shoulders behind my neck while I played XBox. I handled her quite a bit and lived with her until she was about 6-7 feet in length, before I got married & moved out.

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my long-winded post, and for your expertise & advice. I am looking forward to hearing from you all!
  2. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Honestly, I think you answered your own question there. The common red tail seems an almost perfect fit for what your looking for, and a male should stay in the size range you want, they tend not to get as big. There are also some really cool looking morphs, depending on how much you want to spend.
  3. DrgnRebrn

    DrgnRebrn Member

    Yeah, I think you're right. My biggest hesitation is having read that Boas are generally considered more of an intermediate snake vs a beginner. I just don't want to make the poor thing suffer while I am learning!
  4. toddnbecka

    toddnbecka Well Established Member

    They're classified that way because they have different housing requirements regarding heat and humdity than corn or king snakes. You don't have to track down a pure Hog Island boa to find one that won't grow too large, there are a number of BCI species (and crosses) that stay on the small end of the range.
  5. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    And you should have the cage set up and dialed in before you get the snake and bring it home. Having the correct hotspot and ambent temps along with proper humidity ahead of time takes most of the issues out of keeping any reptile.
  6. Katsura

    Katsura Elite Member

    I think a boa is a great fit as well, and for your needs specifically, I think it will make a far better first time pet than a ball python. I personally actually do not recommend ball pythons as beginner snakes at all.

    I have a couple boas, and they are literally the sweetest, most chill snakes I own. They're more fearless, more curious, but not as fast as some other species. They're kinda happy to just be held and look around, in my experience. And they're not usually head-shy, which would be good for kids. And they make great living hats.

    PLUS they eat GREAT which is a huge plus as well. I could do on.... *rambles into the distance* I love boas
  7. DrgnRebrn

    DrgnRebrn Member

    Great feedback everyone, thank you so much!

    I have decided on the Hog Island Boa. I'm going to wait until our local reptile show in May, before making a purchase though. Also, I'm going to convert an old "tube TV" entertainment center into a custom-built enclosure and get everything setup & dialed-in before purchasing the snake.

    I'm waiting for the reptile show because I want to see as much variety as possible, and perhaps get a good deal on an animal there.

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