Snakes certainly are not your typical everyday family pet, but with the popularity of the reptile trade snakes are becoming more and more common in households due to their easy to care for nature and the fact they are hypoallergenic. And if you are a snake lover such as myself, once you make the first snake purchase you just get addicted. But with snake ownership comes many snake questions from those who simply do not understand snakes. I figured I would answer the top 10 questions or comments I frequently get.
- ARE YOU CRAZY? I have been “Crazy” for a long time and crazy before I even got my very first snake. Are snake owners crazy for owning snakes? Well that’s a tough one to answer…I suppose we are unique and perhaps a little different because our family pet of choice is a slithering reptile but in fairness I could say the same to poodle owners or Chihuahua owners or people who own those cats that only like their owner and will tear a visitor to sheds should they try to pet them. So my answer is yes I am a little crazy but for more reasons than owning snakes.
2.ARE THEY LEGAL? In most places yes, in my township I could own pretty much anything, in some other towns or provinces/states certain species may be illegal to keep. It all depends on municipal bylaws. There are reasons in each area as to why some snakes are banned (And yes some are actually because the law passer simply hates snakes) some places have size restrictions or breed restrictions. It is very easy to find out if snakes are legal in your area.
3. Are snakes dangerous? Some yes, others definitely not. I have had more serious injuries from my cats than I have ever gotten from a snake. Certain criteria need to be met before a snake is considered a hazardous animal. Size, Temperament, venom. Venomous snakes are a given, yes people do own them and yes its dangerous, common sense can tell you why. There are certain breeds that have temperament issues and are more likely to attack than other species, however, it is still possible to own a specimen that is notorious for striking or coiling that happens to be a puppy dog snake. Size also determines risk, the bigger the snake the more damage it can do. Anything over 8 feet is strong enough to leave a nasty bite (Although the worse this does is cause mechanical wounds and Ive never heard of anyone bleeding to death from a bite) and a large snake is strong enough to coil around an adult human and knock them out or strangle them. Once a snake gets that large there are certain safety measures to always keep in mind, a 2 person rule (Supervision while handling or feeding) and a proper escape proof enclosure. Escapes often happen do to negligence. Can people still enjoy owning a large snake? Absolutely so long as they follow responsible pet ownership…the same rule applies to dog owners.
4. Can a snake Eat a person? After arguing with many people because they were told or they read a false article on the internet (Because the internet never lies) NO snakes do not eat people! Yes I have been asked if my ball python can eat me. Yes I have been told by many that if a snake stretches out beside you they are sizing you up…FALSE FALSE FALSE! Snakes stretch beside people because humans are warm, snakes like warm. Snakes DO NOT size up their prey…they see, they smell they strike plain and simple. If you smell like a rat you could get bitten but the snake will soon learn that you are not in fact their lunch.
5. Can a snake eat my cat? Can my snakes eat my cats? no. Can a Burmese python eat a cat? Yes. Don’t place cats in Python enclosures? Even if a snake CAN eat a cat they;d need to be desperate to want to eat a cat, a well fed snake is not going to go after something that doesn’t smell like their prey. Is there still a risk? There is and yes here are stories of cats and small dogs getting eaten by large snakes. Right now my cats can do more damage to my snakes than my snakes can do to the cats. Being responsible I obviously don’t place my cats in their enclosures.
6. Can a snake Kill a person? My snakes physically cant. (Other than cause a heart attack on someone who’s terrified) but as previously stated a venomous snake or a large snake can potentially kill a person. For the record there are more Dog related deaths than snake deaths ever recorded.
7. Won’t your snake choke you? Maybe if I let it? The only snake I own with any strength is a 5 foot long Crawl Cay boa constrictor which is a dwarf species. And even with his strength he is very easy to pry off myself. I do let all my snakes wrap around my shoulders because I know they are not strong enough to murder me.
8. Do your snakes try to bite you? Never been bitten by any of my snakes but I have been bitten by other snakes and honestly, its like getting scratched by a cat…except cats hurt more. There is actually more concern for a snake if they are biting and not letting go, if they are pried off a person their teeth can get damaged. Most snakes, however, strike due to defense or accident (Thinking you are food) they will nip and quickly retreat. Your first reaction is usually shock “Did that snake just strike at me?” followed by little pin pricks that may bleed a little. But honestly if bites are a huge concern don’t own anything with teeth.
9. Are snakes Slimey? No they are not slimy or slippery. They have scales which make them smooth to the touch but they do not feel like frogs or fish.
10. Do any of your snakes show aggression? Some have given off warnings of aggression but none have shown it. If a snake becomes irritated or scared they can show signs such as certain body movement or hissing. I have been peed on, I have been hissed at, I have had snakes get surprised and back off, I have been struck but not bitten. Could any of them ever act on aggression? Possibly, any animal can. Is it likely? Not really. I have still picked up a hissing snake, because I know where to grab them, I know what to expect and I know/am prepared for if they do bite. Most aggression comes from within an enclosure, some snakes have feeding responses that make them strike at anything that moves within their home. None of mine have strong feeding responses…I’m lucky if they decide to eat. The correct answer to this question is ANY animal can show or act on aggression be responsible with ALL animals.
Thank you for reading, Hope you learned a few things about snakes. Encourage everyone to do research you never know, you may just fall in love with these magnificent creatures. Most fears are based off the unknown once someone is reassured its quite easy to over come a fear of these cool beasts. I too was once hesitant on handling snakes, I never got the chance to hold one until I was 18 years old and that was when I fell in love. I got my first snake, a Normal Ball Python when I was 26 years old. (I am now almost 29) and my collection has been growing since. Check out care sheets online to see how easy it is to care for beginner snake species you never know, a snake may be for you.