The starter kit described below is only designed to house a Corn snake, Rat snake, King snake or Milk snake for up to one year from birth or when the snake requires more than one defrosted fuzzy sized mouse. After this time more space and heating will be required.
Choosing a place in your home for your snake and vivarium is very important; firstly it must be in a warm room or the vivarium’s heating will not work effectively enough. Secondly do not place your vivarium near sources of heat such as radiators or direct sun light, nor should you put it in a cold or drafty place. Thirdly do not put your vivarium in busy areas of your home like hallways, play room or rooms with loud noises.
The size of your vivarium can be important too. Too big and your animal may get insecure and aggressive or reclusive and refuse to feed. A small simple plastic tank roughly 15” long by 10” wide by 6” high is a good size to start.
Heating your vivarium will be done with the use of a small heat mat (6”x11“) placed outside and under your vivarium covering half the base area, any less than half and your snake may get cold, any more than half and you could over heat your snake. Your heat mat should be left running 24 hours a day. Do not place your heat mat on any surface that might be stained by the heat created by the mat without first protecting the surface.
Cover the floor of your vivarium with a thin layer of orchid bark and spot clean when necessary, do a full tank clean at least every 8 weeks or sooner if you feel it is necessary. Do not use soaps, detergents or household disinfectant. Specialist disinfectants are available if required.
Make sure you provide your snake with a hide and a water bowl. Do not place the water bowl over the heat mat. Normal tap water is fine. Also make sure the hide being used is not too heavy or while digging it could crush your snake.
Your snake should only eat once a week, only the size of the meal and the quantity of the food in each meal will change. Your snake will probably start with the smallest food available (pink mice).
Defrost your food naturally; do not defrost your snake’s food in the microwave or in hot water. Make sure your snake’s food is thoroughly thawed and place in the tank. Check your snake directly after feeding to see the size of the lump in its gut, if there is a lump then the size of the food is correct. If no lump is present then the following week feed two items of the same size food. Continue to check the size of the lump in your snakes belly and when no lump is present directly after feeding, move on to a single mouse of the next size (i.e fuzzy mice). Continue with this routine until your snake reaches adult size. In the event of your snake not feeding, remove the food the following morning and throw away, do not re-freeze or try to feed your snake until the following week.
After you first get your snake home, set up its new enclosure. Give it about half an hour to warm up, and then place your snake in its tank. For the first three to four weeks (or until your snake has had at least 3-4 feeds with-out problem) leave your new snake alone as much as possible. Do not handle it and keep it as quiet as possible. This settling down period is very important to your snake’s acclimatisation. If it is not allowed to acclimatise properly your snake may become reclusive and not feed or it may become defensive and aggressive. After the first few weeks you can start to handle your animal. Do not over handle your animal as it will still be nervous. When handling your snake, never grip or restrain your animal. Allow it to move freely over your hands and through your fingers. To begin with, handle your animal near to the ground encase it slips or falls.
If you are ever in doubt about the health of your snake call your supplier and if you are still in doubt go and see a recommended specialist veterinarian. Below will be listed a brief guide to help you help you know what to look for in a sick snake.
During shedding your snakes eyes will glaze over and its body colour will appear duller, this appearance will last up to a week, before it sheds. Always check your snake after it sheds to make sure all of the skin has come off. If your snake does not shed completely call your supplier or a vet for advice on how to remove the un-shed skin and how you may be able to prevent it in future.