Posted Dec 20, 2013
I'm far from a snake beginner, but until Fran came around I'd never managed to share my home with a Western Hog Nose before. I'd seen videos of their hilarious reactions online, but had never had the pleasure. When Fran came to our sanctuary and rescue as a rejected gift, she gave me the opportunity to care for an example of these beautiful creatures in person.
Unfortunately I think Fran was a dud - she did not put on a show of aggression or fear, and didn't do the passing out thing. Quite the contrary, Fran greeted everyone who handled her with curiosity and affection of a sort that only a snake can show. When she came to us, she was a baby still and probably learned a lack of fear due to being handled by so many people in such a short period of time.
Her coloring was striking and beautiful - I could stare at her scales for hours, watching the patterns. She had clear eyes and an interesting little "snout".
The hardest part about caring for Fran was the initial tank setup. Finding the right substrate, setting up adequate hiding spots for her and making sure the temperature stayed just right was a challenge for me. The temperature, especially, was tough to get. We ended up with substrate heating and a heat lamp on one side of the tank, with a cooler end where she could go and lounge when she wasn't basking. It seemed to work out well for her and she never showed any signs of distress. Once the tank was set up, maintaining it was easy.
If you're faint of heart, I'd advise against these guys because of dietary reasons. Fran's diet was dead baby mice, as she was so tiny. They're small, they're pink and they don't take up much room in your freezer, but warming them and feeding them to the snake is a bit of a gross experience. Nevertheless, it's interesting to watch as the snake devours its food and can be a good lesson in the food chain for those who need a reminder that there's always something bigger and badder out there, ready to devour you!
Fran left our rescue for the local nature center, where she spends her days educating the public that snakes aren't all "scary" or "bad". She's the perfect ambassador for her species - easygoing, friendly, highly visible. They have her in a larger habitat and are taking good care of her as she lives out her life in luxury. Not all snakes are so lucky - please, please, PLEASE do your research before getting an "exotic" pet like a snake, lest they end up in a rescue or worse because you changed your mind or can't take care of them properly!