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ihrtyoshi's avatar

Any advice for a new snake owner?

Asked by ihrtyoshi (45 points ) January 5th, 2014

So, I got an albino nelson milk snake Saturday January 4th at the Scott Smith All Animal Expo in Wheaton Illinois.

This is my first pet snake ever, but not my first reptile (I had an aquatic turtle when I was younger). I’ve done A LOT of research about milk snakes, and snakes in gerneral but I’m still nervous, and paranoid being a newbie to owning snakes. I noticed when I first got him out of the container he was in, he still had a patch of old shed. I’ve read that if a snake is having trouble shedding to soak the snake in some water and it will help remove the shed, which I did. First question is, did I do the right thing, or should I have waited for the snake to just remove the shed itself? I also fed him a fully thawed pinky mouse Saturday. My next question is, when can I start handling my snake again? I should have asked when was his last shed, and how old he is. But his shed should have been recent since he still had some old shed left on, and he is fairly small so he shouldn’t be no more than a few months old. Next question is when should his next shed be? What signs should I look for when he is going to shed.

I have a very simple set up of his tank. It’s just paper towels lining the bottom of the tank, with two hides, one on the warm side, and one on the cool side, oh, and a small shallow water dish. I also have a heat pad under the tank. Should I have anything else in his tank? How long does it usually take for a snake to calm down and start getting use to being handled? How often should I mist his tank? I usually mist it when the humity is below 40%. How do you sex a snake, and how can you tell the difference between the two sexes? I’ve read and watched videos on how to pop your snake, but I’m just too anxious to do something like that especially since it would be my first to doing so, and the last thing I want to do is harm or put any unnecessary stress on my snake. Is there another way I can sex my snake?

So, those are the question I have for now, and I can’t think of anymore. So I would love to hear from you guys, and read comments on what I should do to make sure my new snake can live a healthy full life. Thanks for taking the time in reading my post.

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8 Answers

kritiper's avatar

You have a cover for the case so the snake won’t get out? Put a brick or big rock on it!

ihrtyoshi's avatar

I did forget to mention that but, yes, I have a cover with clamps on the side so my snake won’t get out.

Seek's avatar

Don’t try to sex your snake by popping. You can kill it.

If you’re not breeding the snake, there’s no real reason you need to know its sex, anyway, but in some species (and I believe milks and kings are among them) the shape of its tail is a sign.

Snakes do not “get used” to being handled. You get used to handling them in a way that doesn’t freak them out or piss them off. Reptile brains. Also, yes, it will bite you. Probably often. Make peace with that fact, or don’t own a snake.

I don’t suppose there’s any point in asking whether you have a herp vet?

El_Cadejo's avatar

To add to what @Seek_Kolinahr said, remain calm while handling it. Yea, it’s going to bite you from time to time, but you freaking out will only make the situation go from bad to worse. Always move very slowly and deliberately when going to handle the snake. Sudden jerky movements could frighten it and cause him to bite you.

I was once holding a Burmese python at a store I worked at and people were asking to pet it so I told them what I said above, well one lady reached out real quick for the snakes head, wanna guess what happened? Snake dodged her hand and bit her right on the nose. Yea that was fun….

ccrow's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I think they can ‘get used’ to handling, provided the person knows how to handle them properly; I’ve had individual wild garter snakes that got so I could pick them up and hold them and they would remain calm.

rojo's avatar

Voice of experience here; DO NOT handle a snake after handling a food source (see @uberbatman ‘s answer). In retrospect, I should have thought that one through.

poofandmook's avatar

in my experience, snakes can get used to being handled, and also used to not being handled. We always handled our snakes… let them go down shirt sleeves and such to get warm and familiar with our scent. But if for whatever reason they weren’t handled, they definitely acted differently and more defensive.

I sort of disagree about biting. I have never been bitten and owned tons of snakes… it depends greatly on the individual snake. We were always careful in choosing our snakes. Some are simply more aggressive than others. You just need to be careful. Don’t come up from behind the snake. Make sure your hands are freshly washed… they won’t mistake soap smell for food. There’s a chance you’ll be bitten from time to time… so I do agree that if you aren’t prepared for that, you shouldn’t own a snake. But I wouldn’t expect it either. That could cause anxiety when handling the snake and they can tell, which makes it more likely that you’ll be bitten.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I should have added above that any time I have been bitten by a snake, IMO it’s never been a “real bite”, usually more of a tasting or a warning bite. Kinda like how cats will nibble on you but not actually bite hard.

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