Over the last 10 years reptiles have become very popular as pets. Not surprising as they do not require the same exercise as dogs or horses, they sometimes only eat every 2 weeks or even less and are hypoallergenic! But do snakes actually make good pets?
This really depends what you want from your pet. If you want something to cuddle up with you on the sofa while you watch TV, then maybe a snake is not the best idea, although they are happy to be handled if they are purchased from being young, they do not have the domesticated traits we have come to love with our dogs/cats/rabbits etc.
That being said snakes can make a fantastic pet for the right kind of person. Although they require very little maintenance, just a quick spot clean daily to check for poo (they only do this a couple of times a week at most) and a change of water, then a full clean out about once every 4- 6weeks, they do require some specialist care. Snakes belong to the group of animals known as reptiles, that many people refer to as cold blooded. This however is not an accurate term for a reptile. Rather than having cold blood they rely on their environment to control their body temperature whereas mammals and birds use energy from food to do this. So, they need to have specially heated enclosures. Now depending on what kind of snake you get will dictate what kind of heating set up you get, the majority of our smaller, more commonly pet species are happy with a wooden vivarium, long enough for them to fully stretch out, with a heat mat heating up one side of the enclosure and a cool side. Pop in some nice hides all around for them and some nice natural looking items and you have yourself a happy snake.
Feeding wise snakes consume whole prey, and what you give them really does depend on size. If you are not sure contact the pet shop or breeder where you purchased your snake and they will be able to help. The most common food types are usually frozen mice/rats/gerbils etc. So, if a snake is the pet you are thinking of make sure you have a space in the freezer at home to store their food. When it comes to feeding the food will also need to be defrosted fully before offering.
Snakes once accustomed to being handled can be handled daily with no problem, just be careful they do not become too cold while outside of their enclosure. In a normal central heated house, they can be out for 30 minutes no problem. Care needs to be taken not to twist their bodies as their spines can become damaged.
I have seen many children fall in love with pet snakes and enjoy watching them grow from little worm size wriggly things to fully grown adult snakes (this will depend on species, but for example the common corn snake can grow to 5ft). they can live for up to 15 years or possible more, once again depending on species. So, they make a great addition to the family. But as with any animal the important thing is to do your research before buying and seek a reputable breeder/pet shop. If you are unsure contact your local vet or rescue centre as they may be able to advise you and point you in the right direction!