Posts Tagged ‘snakes’

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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.

 

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  1. 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.

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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.

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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.

CYIO0E6WcAAMjQl 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.

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Had a very successful animal outreach today at the Marmora family celebration.  Over 150 kids had the opportunity to learn and handle critters. 

Today’s stars were:

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Bowzer the bearded dragon.  Bowzer is a lazy lizard who sits still and allows everyone to pet him.  He loves to hang out on people’s shoulders when he is handled.  Bowzer enjoyed this nice warm day and sat still the entire show.  Kids had the opportunity to pet bowzer and learn what he eats,  where he is from and why they are one of the best kid friendly exotic pets in the pet trade.  He does the same at home,  basks and checks everyone out. 

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Boo the ferret had plenty of attention today.  Boo loves attention and doesn’t mind being handled by everyone.  We tired him out within 2 hours and he was a sleepy boy while not everyone got to interact with him he had a good show.  Boo is very friendly and does not nip or bite he is the absolute perfect ferret for outreach and he enjoys being in the spot light.  While the kids hung out with Boo they learned the meaning of “ferret”  which is little their.  That’s because they love to steal and stash things.  Boos all time favourite thing to steal and hide are slippers. 

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Dax the California King snake.  Dax did great today she was very comfortable being held and the longer she was out the calmer she became.  It was great having the option of letting her get used to handling and kids even got to hold her.  California King snakes are related to corn snakes and garter snakes and have similar temperament and movements.  When scared they will shake their tail pretending to be a rattle snake and if that doesn’t work they will release a musk (kind of like peeing)  on you when you pick them up.  I’ve had my California King snakes do this many times but once out of their enclosure they are very comfortable.  Dax has not been timid lately even in her enclosure. 

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Data the ball Python.  Also a great hit even with those who are afraid of snakes.  We had about 10 people get over their snake phobia today and brave holding or touching Data.  Because data is so friendly and slow moving he is an ideal snake to start out with.  He was handled by at least 50 kids and they learned something… Snakes aren’t really that scary or mean.  Especially ball pythons one of the most docile snake species on the planet (captive bred).  Ball pythons are a top beginner snake for hobbiests because of their amazing temperament.  Data will grow to be 5 feet long.  Data is also comfortable having his head touched and chin rubbed which snakes usually dislike but you can find the odd snake that doesn’t mind handling and attention what so ever. 

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Lolth the rose hair tarantula.  While I don’t let kids handle her she was handled by 3 adults today.  Rose hair tarantulas a docile species of tarantula.  While they are venomous they don’t pack enough venom to even phase a human (however like bee allergies it is suspected there are people with spider venom allergies too)  tarantulas also have tiny hairs on their abdomens they can rub or flick off if agitated… These hairs get stuck in skin and can cause skin irritation while it’s rare for a rose hair to flick hairs it’s still a possibility so special precautions are made when this spider is handled by others. 

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Rodney the guinea pig.  Rodney was pet by many kids today and enjoyed his treat of clovers and grass.  When they are given a little back scratch ( or in Rodney’s case hears bags crinkle)  they squeal in delight.  Rodney loves food and the sound of bags. 

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We had a great time showing off a few of our critters today.  It brings me great joy to be able to educate people on a diverse range of critters.  And the critters had a great time too exploring and being handled. 

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I think my issue is I just can’t say no to a rescue…and this is why and how I’ve managed to rack up 20 critters.  Snakes however,  these critters are quite easy depending on type of snake and there are breeders who have hundreds in their homes and can manage to look after them all.  My snakes,  however,  get much more attention.  I regularly handle mine and take them out for Cool photo opportunities.  Kids love to come spend time with my many critters and snakes are probably the most popular… Get a kid to hold a snake at a young age and they will likely never have a snake phobia into adult hood. 

NEMO and Mad Eye were born on may 30th (sometime during that weekend anyway)  they are boa constrictors and boas  give live birth.  There were over 40 babies born however these two (have not sexed them yet)  were both born with one eye popped out. 

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The eye 3 weeks ago looked pretty nasty.  Because they are flawed they can’t be sold so I was asked if I could take them.  Without hesitation I said yes and took my two new babies home.  I got into the car and my husband saw them. 

“these are almost perfect sunglow boas. We can either keep them or raise them and rehome  them.” I explained. 

“how big do they get? ” my husband asked.

” big” I replied.

“how big? ”

” big. ”

Boas (regular everyday red tailed boas)  can grow up to 10 feet long and through their lifetime can keep gradually growing.  They aren’t an overly dangerous snake.  Most would assume they are but boas are pretty much kittens unless food is involved.  They aren’t the largest snake you can own.  They are docile in nature when out of the enclosure.  Most snake injuries occur when people are careless and put their hands inside a snake enclosure.  With large snakes the safest way to deal with them is to always use a snake hook.  When snakes are fed in their enclosure they can expect it’s feeding time every time the door opens which is why it’s safer to have them outside the enclosure.  Bites generally occur when hands are mistaken for food or a snake is territorial. 

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Right now these two cuties are small.  They grow pretty quick though.  Is it safe to keep them?  Absolutely it just takes responsibility and a proper locked enclosure.  Will I keep them? I guess we shall see.  But for now you can follow their progress as well as all my other critters progress on my instagram page jessgoslin  🙂 

I must say though their damaged eyes are looking much better and it seems they will just end up with empty eye sockets.  Nemo  had his first meal last week and mad Eye simply was not ready so I will try again.  Neither has shed  yet but I’m sure their shed  day should be soon. 

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Due to a recent snake attack that tragically killed two N.B boys exotic animals have been in the media non stop and there has been a war brewing between people who hate exotics and people who own them. Those who dislike the idea of snake ownership or exotic animal ownership feel that these animals should never be housed indoors and belong in the wild.  It is quite easy to throw words and insult around when one is not educated on specific species. I myself have been attacked and called immature, stupid, irresponsible and not right in the head because I do in fact own a snake as well as a few other exotics (A psychopathic iguana and a  nice little Bearded Dragon) And no I do not own the snake pictured above, that was snake brought in by a professional for a birthday party and it is a Burmese Python Which is used to constant handling.

The thing is, a ban isn’t going to solve any problems. Snake escapes and attacks are very rare and it all comes down to common sense and Responsible pet ownership. Just like someone is responsible for their dog, snake owners and exotic owners  are also responsible for their animals. This means proper enclosures, sanitary conditions, a well fed animal and knowledge on the animal that they own.

Now that snakes are in the media, the media is picking up and reporting as much snake related news they can get their hands on. A good example is the headline “Python escapes Vancouver home” A Ball python got out of it’s enclosure and the owners are searching for it. This doesn’t mean it’s outside and this also doesn’t mean that people are at risk. They probably aren’t because the breed of python that got loose is a Ball Python one of the most docile and least dangerous breeds of snakes there are. This hasn’t stopped people from spewing negative comments such as “These animals belong in the wild it’s pitiful to see them in tanks” “People who own snakes are not right in the head and are just trying to get attention-they are like ‘hey look at me I own a snake'” “People who own these things are very stupid.” “They say it’s not dangerous but it constricts, it could kill someone!” “It’s time to ban ownership of these animals”

There are thousands of households in North America that have pet snakes, Lizards and other exotics. If Everyone had to give their animals up Zoo’s could not take them all in and they can not be released back into the wild as most are captive bred and can’t even survive in their natural environment. Snakes don’t prefer open spaces either. Snakes like to laze around and wait for food which they can stalk. A terrarium the length of the snake is perfect. Being in a terrarium is just a convenience, they have perfect temperatures, they feel quite comfortable coiled up in a tank and best of all they are handed food on a silver platter.

But what about safety? It’s simple, knowledge on the animal owned, proper housing and knowing whether your house is even suitable for owning an exotic all come into effect. Large snakes need large homes-can you afford a very big terrarium? Because a Burmese Python or a Boa get quite large. Will you be able to provide and afford food? What other pets are in the house? Are there children in the house? If it gets out can it escape the house or leave the room it’s in? Do you have the proper license to own a large breed snake? Is it even legal in your town to own a large snake? Do you practice the buddy system when handling dangerous exotics? Part of responsible pet ownership is following all the guidelines to owning a pet.

Picture0028Picture0032From one Exotic owner to another I thought I’d discuss my pets, the guidelines that I follow and I want to educate people about these animals. I got all 3 of my exotics not because I wanted them out of a whim but because I adopted them. They each have a story. So I’ll start with my Ball Python. Odo is an almost fully grown male Ball Python who I got from a friend who was downsizing his snake collection. Odo was thought to be a female but turned out it was male so became useless for breeding as he is just a normal common ball python and to get specific morphs and patterned snakes you would not use him for breeding. He was not a pet prior to me owning him. When I was offered Odo I went and bought a 20 gallon Terrarium with some substrate and a heat pad. I get free rats from my workplace so he will always have food. I would not have gotten Odo if I didn’t have the money for a proper enclosure or if I was not prepared for him. I’ve always wanted a snake because I really enjoy them. For a snake that was rarely handled he is extremely easy to handle. I used to own a corn snake and the corn snake was harder to handle and I had the risk of being bitten. Ball Pythons rarely strike and they rarely constrict humans. If they do constrict a human they are easy to pull off as they are not as strong as other constrictors. Obviously I never let my daughter handle it alone as that would be stupid. I do handle the snake when I am alone and I feel that he is very safe to handle…but at the same time I never grab his tail or his face, I know from handling experience that snakes do not like their faces touched. Mine balls up and hides when he gets scared. Are Ball Pythons dangerous? I’d have to say no, there are no reported serious attacks from this breed and they are the most common breed of snake owned across North America.

931175_10200680677273737_1949095850_nBowzer is a Bearded Dragon. The reason I got Bowzer is because I already had all the stuff for a proper enclosure and he was up for adoption at my workplace. Bowzer could not be sold to a petstore because he has half of a tail and missing some toes. His Brothers and sisters bit his tail and feet resulting in being what we call “Almost perfect”. Bowzer loves to eat Dandelion greens and superworms. Bowzer is very friendly and Bearded dragons make great pets for first time lizard owners. Children can handle them and they like to latch on to shoulders and just hang out. Bowzer is not dangerous at all and most Beardies have funny personalities. He has a nice big tank but really likes his basking spot the most. They only run when they chase food or you take them out of their enclosure and allow them to roam.  Mine usually just mozies on if I pace him on the floor but if I throw a worm in front of him he’s lightning quick.

420796_3143836389248_970591665_nGarek is a female 4 year old Green Iguana. We also adopted her and she came with her very large enclosure. Garek is not friendly and we’ve tried to handle her to make her friendly with zero success. She’s honestly the most vicious thing I have ever owned. She slaps me with her tail, hisses ate me and lunges at me when I go near her. She’s miserable! Why do I own her? Because her owners could not house her due to having to move and the people who owned her before they did neglected her. She’s scraggly and has constant eye infections because of being abused.  She looks much more healthy now though as she has gotten a lot of TLC for the 2 years I have owned her. She loves her dandelion and collard greens and berries are a great snack.

382262_10200360346585670_911153845_nIf you don’t plan to have an exotic animal or any animal for that matter forever then don’t get one PERIOD. My iguana is not friendly at all, she won’t go out of her way to harm us but she’d bite given the chance. I still love her regardless because there’s nothing that brightens my day more than seeing her peeved off look when I look at her. She may be miserable and demanding but she’s still our iguana and we intend to house her until she dies of old age…and because she’s so grumpy I’m sure she’s got plenty of years left.

What exotic ownership comes down to is proper ownership. Unfortunately there are bad owners out there and the same goes for owners of cats and dogs. People are the issue not the animals. If anyone is not housing an animal properly they need to be reported for the safety of the public and the animal. There are many more responsible owners out there who adore their animals. We’re not weird or stupid just because we own snakes and lizards (Okay maybe some are because I’ve met a few strange reptile owners in my lifetime) we just simply enjoy these beautiful creatures. And remember before you judge an animal owner or an animal do some research first don’t just immediately jump on the band wagon and spew negative comments. How would you like it if someone called you an idiot for being a cat or dog owner? Reptiles make wonderful pets, some species not so much but people own them anyways for whatever reason. There probbaly does need to be bylaws for certain animals (Larger snakes, Crocs, monitor lizards, Caymans etc) but if people show that they have the proper equipment to house one then why not? Don’t go and try and own a dangerous exotic on a whim though, they are much better enjoyed in Accredited zoos and facilities.

Making these animals illegal will do more harm than good. Firstly people will release them into the wild. Secondly zoos can not and will not take in everyone’s snakes as there are literally thousands of them in Canada. And Third people will house them illegally anyway and the reptiles will not get proper veterinary care due to the fact they are illegal. A large percentage of snakes owned in Canada are captive bred, particularly Ball pythons as they are bred specifically to get specific colorings.  And for those considering a pet snake please go to a breeder so you know you are getting something that was captive bred.

Own an animal of any kind? Be responsible.

936445_10200673404851931_547697410_n               I really wanted a fun and educational Birthday party for my daughter’s 7th Birthday, so I totally jumped at the opportunity to have reptiles and a professional handler show up to give a hands on educational presentation for the kids.

The program is called Reptile Feeders Outreach and is offered by The Norwood Ontario Reptile Feeders. Reptile Feeders is the largest supplier of live reptile food in Canada. They take great care in producing all sorts of live reptile food from rodents to worms. Chances are if you are a reptile owner and buy food from a petstore it probably came from the Norwood Reptile Feeder facility. They also sell supplies as well as reptiles and furry critters. All of the animals that attended the Outreach birthday party came from the facility and are frequently handled as well as spolied rotten.

575562_10200673423972409_81376157_nThe party started off with a few rules #1 wash your hands after handling animals #2 don’t scare the animals. The kids, although crazy and loud were actually not able to scare the animals. The professional handler started off by bringing out the smallest animals first and the kids had a blast. The above picture is a party attendee handling a Leopard Gecko. All of the kids had the oportunity to either touch or hold the animals (Most of them anyway)

482570_10200673409252041_477072569_nAurora (The Birthday Girl) handling a White’s Tree Frog. She got the honours of getting to handle this cute little guy. Because Frogs absorb moisture through their skin it is not recommended that too many people handle them because they can absorb bacteria through their skin. White’s Tree frogs are native species to Australia and live in trees where they get their mosture from the rain and dew.

942979_10200673401211840_2068876638_nThe tortoise was pretty neat, they can live up to 100 years old and they are very friendly. The kids tried to scare the tortoise so she would hide in her shell but they were not very sucessful, however when Aurora tried to feed her some fresh Kale she hid, likely because she was offended that it was not strawberries. Kids learned the difference between a Turtle and a tortoise and were told that if they ever see a turtle crossing the road to always make sure to help it across in the direction they are headed. Snapping turtles can be picked up by the back of the shell near hind legs where the head can not reach and “whellbarrowed” safely across the road.

942229_10200673406291967_1403262956_nThe one Lizard all the kids wanted was the Bearded Dragon. Bearded dragons are easy to handle, quite lazy unless food is introduced and are great for kids who are first time lizard owners. Reptile feeders has lots of cute Bearded dragons for sale. The kids got to see the bearded dragon eat a nice big juicy hornworm and they thought that was great. There was smiles all around when Simba the Bearded dragon was handled by all the kids.

48018_10200673400131813_237543122_nWe had snakes of all sizes attend the party as well. The first snake the kids were introduced to was a corn snake and after that a beautiful Ball Python (Above) The kids really liked the Ball python because it had a very cool pattern which is known as Piebald. Piebald means that an animal has an irregular colour pattern, usually darker spots on white. Piebald pythons are specifically bred to look like this and are worth more money than a regular patterned Ball Python. The rarer the pattern on a snake the more valuable it is. Ball Pythons are lazy snakes and don’t slither too much so the kids felt more comfortable handling a calmer snake. Even kids who came to the party afraid of snakes left boasting that they got to hold a snake.

603431_10200673391731603_1697982124_nLast but not least, what’s a party without a very big snake? Reptile feeders brought an albino Burmese Python and the kids had an opportunity for it to slither on their laps. No worries, kids are much too big for these snakes to eat and the snake was probably not very hungry anyways. The Burmese pythons eat rabbits (but not live ones). Snakes smell with their tongue and see temperature so if their food is heated up they can smell it and see it. All snakes no matter how big or small eat meat only. Pythons are constrictor snakes and they suffocate their meals before eating. Another cool fact kids learned was that Pythons lay eggs and Boa Constrictors give birth to live young. Pythons can make great pets too but they need lots of space as they get very big and they are banned from certain townships and cities.

Reptiles can live a very long time so if you give them a home be prepared to give them a loving home. Kids also can get bored with pets leaving their parents to look after them. Reptile ownership is not for everyone but if you are prepared and you enjoy looking after neat creatures then a reptile can make the perfect pet. Don’t forget that adoption is still the best method when it comes to any animal.

Looking for cool party ideas? Try an educational one. Reptile outreaches are great and the kids will remember the experience. It has been a week since the party and all the party attendees are still talking about how cool it was to get to learn about and handle reptiles. You can book a party in the Kawartha Lakes area by going to http://www.reptilefeeders.com/outreach or check online for your nearest outreach program. Zoos and sanctuaries also offer outreach programs for birthday parties and special events. I can guarantee you will not be let down, it was absolutely fun and not a single kid had a bad time.