GROOMING

Grooming is most important when your snake sheds her skin. If the temperature and humidity are right, and if all goes well, she will take care of this herself. Usually, a snake will shed once a month or so. Expect the process to take upwards of a week. If there are any problems, or worse- she hasn’t shed in a long time, she might need help.

A common cause of sloughing problems is dry air. Raise the humidity in the tank, and add a box partially filled with dampened paper towels, moss, or other soft substrate material. This might be enough to solve the problem. A little bit of gentle rubbing under the chin might also help. Are there enough items in the tank for the snake to rub on? She needs some smooth rocks and branches for this. After all, she doesn’t have hands.

At this stage – having tried the dampened paper towels, raising the humidity, and providing rubbing places – if your snake is still not able to complete her sloughing, take her to the veterinarian.

HOME ENVIRONMENT

A good home environment for a snake is one where she has enough time to herself that she can relax and digest her meals, but where she is tended appropriately even after the novelty of a pet snake has worn off.

HANDLING

Many pet snakes learn to tolerate being handled, but you should not even attempt to try hand-taming her until she has successfully eaten at least four meals in her new home. Wait until there is no bulge from her meal before trying to touch her. Start slowly, and place both hands under her belly to support her weight. Only handle the middle third of her body, unless a veterinarian instructs you to do otherwise.  There are some medical reasons to hold her head or tail, so if the vet tells you to (for example, for cleaning the snake’s face), go ahead. In these cases, support her body with your other hand.

REGULATION & LICENSING

A license is required to keep snakes as pets in Australia. Each state and territory has a different set of regulations governing reptile ownership so it’s important that you understand the requirements set down by your local authority:

If you considering a move interstate in the future be sure to check the license restrictions for keeping snakes in your destination state or territory. The classification systems vary significantly between jurisdictions and a snake that is legal in your home state may not be legal or require a very different license type in another state. The last thing you want is to have to say goodbye to your snake because you are no longer able to keep him.

WHERE TO NEXT?

What is the next step? If you’re still considering a snake, find out whether your housing arrangements allow for them. Do you live in a rental flat? Check with the landlord. Go to the licence site that was mentioned above, and check out the requirements. Then read about the kinds of snakes that are legal with a beginner’s licence. Is one of these right for you?

Pick a species and buy a terrarium of the right size. Set it up, and check the temperatures and humidity for a week, to make sure the snake will be safe. Then it will be time to bring home your snake.