A lot of reptile enthusiastic friends and family that follow us are forever counting on us to help them get them the right snake for a pet.
We have been instrumental in helping all of them to date. So we decided to pen this.
It is because we thought that we needed to tell you all that if there was one (yes, just one) pet snake that we could recommend to anyone that wanted to hear it, it would be Elaphe Obsoleta LIndheimeri or what is commonly known in the pet trade circles as the Texas rat snake.
Why Texas rat snake?
Why not the Texas rat snake! It is long, beautiful, and amazing. It is active and adapts to a wide range of habitats across its geographical range. It is a great climber and hunter. It can even swim in medium to deep water!
The Texas rat snake hunts smaller animals and birds at brilliant speed, and that is probably why the bird population near and around its habitats decimate to deficient numbers. However, as pets and farms, this snake is amazingly beneficial to farmers because it keeps the population of farm pest in absolute check.
If you are looking for a beauty to awe you and your friends and something that is going to keep you watching it for all the antics that it is capable of, please do yourself a favor and do not settle down for anything else except this beauty of a snake. We will take the guarantee if anything is amiss. (You will not need it ever; still, just in case we need to assure you that this snake is the best pet you can ever keep)
The snake is common within its geographical range:
The three states that the snake is commonly found are
- Louisiana and
Fortunately, there are no laws and regulations still that are averse to collecting the snakes from the wild. But like always, we will recommend that you go for the captive-bred ones that can be acquired form reptile stores over the internet or the friendly brick and mortar pet shop in your neighborhood.
Captive-bred snakes are used to live in captivity right from a tender age and carry very few or no parasites within them that makes it a safer proposition in homes with children or young adults.
Size and life expectancy of the Texas rat snake
At the time of hatching, they are only about a foot long. With time they grow to a maximum of five feet irrespective of their gender. The average life expectancy is in the range of 10 to 15 years, even though we have heard of snakes that live up to 20 years too!
The early establishment can be handled with the just hatched being housed in a 5-gallon glass terrarium. In time, you will have to shift it to a 20 gallon to ultimately 55 gallons till the time it has grown its optimum size. The length of the reptile terrarium must be a minimum of 3 feet for free movement.
The snakes love to entertain with all their skills, but they will also need their space. Care to give them a lot of hiding places when anxiety and consciousness suddenly creep over them.
And for heaven’s sake, do not even forget to secure the lid to the cage tightly or else 99 times of the 100 you will wake up to an empty enclosure. Heartbreaking no!
A newspaper is always the best bet for a substrate because then you have to collect it and dump it when your pet makes a mess. But in case you are the hard-working type that loves aesthetics more than making it easier to go for wooden shaving from your DIY projects or any other that you can lay your hands on. Only steer away from scented and/or oily wood variety because it can harm the snake on ingestion.
Lighting, temperature, and UV radiation requirements
Snakes need to follow a day and night pattern to be able to distinguish when winter is setting in. That will colossally help them in restricting their diet and also when they are intended for breeding in captivity.
If you cannot remember to switch on lights in a twelve-hour pattern, you can set a timer for that purpose and if you think that even that is a chore, try and set up the cage near windows where it is easy for the snake to discern from daylight streaming from outside.
Texas rat snake can easily adjust its body temperature to suit its habitat. Therefore there is no urgent need to install any UVB radiations. However, a heating light may be set up on one side of the cage so that it can move around on one of the two sides when it requires. The light side of the cage can be set at a temperature between 80 and 85 F, and the one where there is no light can be pegged at 70 -75 F.
Shedding is not the best of times to begin anything new!
Shedding is a difficult period for all snakes, during which time you must take enough care to keep a sufficient amount of water in a clean dish. Clean the dish and refill water every day. The dish should be big and full enough that it can soak inside and not topple it when it is pulling itself out.
You will realize that the shedding process is beginning when it becomes reclusive with itchy skin and pale eyes. It is imperative that you provide it with a humid shed box that is filled with a lot of newspapers or damp tissue papers.
Finally, what to feed them!
They can be fed 5 times in a week with lizards, rodents and smaller birds. Eggs are a great supplement too. Pre killed, frozen, and warmed food is the best bet!
Hatchlings can be touchy but will settle down with time. Scoop them from behind and away from their mouth and handle them in smaller time intervals. This will help them in building their confidence in you. Avoid handling them while they are shedding and right after they are fed.
With all that, your pet snake is going to do wonders for your nerves. If snake keeping is not therapeutic, there wouldn’t be so much demand for them as pets. Here’s ciao till next time!