Acquired: Online breeder / seller
Posted Apr 12, 2015
Growing up my brother has always wanted to own a snake, but my parents always told him he can, only when he is an adult and can obtain the licence. In Australia you need a licence to own exotic animals such as snakes, lizards and other reptiles. This licence can only be obtained after 18 years of age when you are legally an adult in our country. So, when my brother turned 18 he started saving up and slowly acquiring all the equipment for the ownership of a snake and after his 21st birthday he was finally able to live out his childhood dream. He purchased a baby South Western Carpet Python. Now the snake, which is still unnamed is 13 months old and by brother could not be happier with his legless pet.
The snake is kept in my parents study so the door can be shut and the snake out of sight for house guests who are not comfortable with the reptilian pet, such as my brother’s girlfriend. This is a benefit for both the guests and the snake who no doubt would not appreciate the high pitched squeals of people when they see him.
Getting set up was pretty simple; my brother went to our local hardware store to purchase the snake’s enclosure. This needs to be made of materials which will hold heat well and so keep the snake in a comfortable environment. Our python is house in a simple shelving unit with melamine and MDF on the externals. Door is Perspex which an acrylic as this holds heat better than glass. There is however glass across the front of the shelving unit so we can actually see the snake. The purchasing of a heat amp and thermostat to regulate heat is an essential as the snake will be uncomfortable if it gets too cold or too hot.
Our experience has been that snakes are quite easy to look after, requiring 1 feed a week but increasing food intake before winter as they tend to eat a bit less during that time. We feed ours dead mince, which we keep in the freezer. I've heard it is better for the snakes to feed them live mince to have them stalk and capture it as naturally as they would in the wild, but constantly having live disease free mince on call is a demanding and expensive ask and can be quite confronting for the owner. In order to keep it as realistic as possible we move the mouse around in the cage to make it look alive; playing with it the same way you might play with a cat with a toy on a piece of string – only we use long tongs, and remove the tongs when it looks like the snake is ready to strike.
As with any pet, a snake needs to be kept in a clean and fresh environment, with its water changed and clean every couple of days or if contaminated. We clean the cage our completely every month, however common sense is needed and if the cage is dirty and needs to be cleaned more often than that – then clean it.
We have not yet experienced any troubles or problems with owning a snake, rather I actually find it quite relaxing to lounge in the study, just watching the snake move around in the majestic and powerful way it does.
But as snake owners, you need to remember, they aren't like a dog or cat; they are their own animal. If they are being handled when they don’t want to be handled, they are not the sort of animal to just tolerate it, they will tell you. My brother has been bitten a number of times by the python, but as they are not poisonous and his fangs are still only small, it has not even hurt him. I can imagine though, if he ignored the communication from the snake telling him that he has had enough, it would be more aggressive and harder to handle. Something we have observed is that he appears to be more aggressive when he is shedding, so this is something to be mindful off and we know to handle him less during this time.
Owning a snake is very unique experience, and nothing like owning a cat or dog. Many people are not suited to owning such a pet, but for the people that are, they must have patience, a calm and mellow attitude and use common sense. Different places would have different laws and regulations, so no matter where you are living; you need to look into if there are any legal requirements for you owning a snake. Once all this has been checked and you purchase your reptilian pet, I am sure you will have a very pleasurable experience as we have had.