Gopher/Bull Snake Care Sheet

There are around nine sub species of the snake species Pituophis catenifer. These go by the common names of Gopher Snake and Bull Snake, depending mainly on regional variation. Rather confusingly the common name Bull Snake is also used to describe certain sub species of the closely related Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus). Care for pine snakes is similar to gopher snakes so this care sheet will cover most aspects of both species, although as I own a Bull Snake (pituophis catenifer sayi) myself it is to this species I am refering when I use the term. Gopher snakes originate from the far western United States and the pine snakes across the south and east, up to New Jersey. Gopher snakes resemble rattle snakes in colour and pattern and will mimic them when threatened. The largest sub species the Bull Snake (Pituphis catenifer sayi) gets its name from the bull like snort it emits when angry. Mine used to do this when I first got it but it soon calmed down with handling and has become one of the most docile, predictable snakes I have ever owned.

Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi
Adult Male Bull Snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

Housing

Gopher snakes, bull snakes and pine snakes are the largest snakes found in north america (not including the invasive pythons in Florida).The adult size varies from 1m up to 2.3m. You are going to need a large enclosure, I would suggest a minimum of 4′ x 2′. You will not know, until it grows just how big it is going to get so I wouldn’t bother getting a smaller viv. than this. They are also very active, inquiistive snakes, so they do need the space of a larger enclosure and regular changes of layout to keep them stimulated. They really appreciate a bit of excercise out in the house and on a warm day, as long as you keep a very close eye on them you can take them out into the garden for a little explore (depending on the layout, if there is a hole to hide in they will find it). There should always be a large water bowl in the enclosure with fresh water. From experience my bull snake will only drink the water when it is fresh and every time I replace the bowl he will spend a few minutes drinking. I never see him drink at any other time so keep it fresh. It is not necessary to dechlorinate the water in the UK. I often see it stated that the water should be dechlorinated first but this information comes originally from the USA where, historically the chlorine level at the tap is significantly higher (an order of magnitude higher) than the UK. Here it is usually lower than 0.5mg/l and often only a fraction above 0. Our water treatment processes make high levels unecessary. I used to manage a water treatment works and we would have enquiries from US servicemen on whether the water was safe to drink as they couldn’t smell the chlorine!

At least one hide is required, preferably two or more. These can be placed at opposite ends of the vivarium to allow the snake to rest in the correct temperature. Snakes can only thermo regulate by using the ambient temperature around them (unlike us – we can produce our own heat) so need to move around to control their temperature. Whilst shedding, which they will do from every few weeks when young and growing rapidly and every few months when adult, place some damp moss under the snakes preferred hide. This will create a microclimate with raised humidity, making shedding the skin easier. You do not want a raised humidty constantly in the vivarium. Gopher snakes come from arid environments, so dry air (not so for some pine snakes, Florida and Louisianna are pretty humid at times!).

Substrate

Suitable substrates would include, beech chip, aspen bedding and lignocel (e.g. PR snake life) for a utilitarian set up. I have used them all and they are all fine and have the advantage that the poop is easy to spot and to clean. The darker orchid bark or “bark chips” is fine too, although it is much harder to spot the poop. For the more humid subspecies of pine snake this may be a better choice as it can help maintain the humidity. More “natural” looking substrates are also fine. Gopher snakes live in arid areas with dry, often sandy soil. The gopher snake in the shop is on PR toroise life as a suitable approximation to the natural environment and it works well. Don’t be dictated to by the “keyboard warriors” who will try to tell you what you “must” use. This is at best just their opinion, although they will try to present it as fact and at worst just something they have heard somewhere without the slightest idea as to why it should be.

Heating

For smaller snakes a heat mat would be OK but especially if the mat is floor mounted, a larger snake may cause “thermal blocking” (completely covering the mat with its body) so I prefer a ceramic heat emitter with a suitable heater cage to prevent the snake burning itself. A suitably rated pulse proportional or dimming thermostat gives the best level of control over the output of the heater but a simple on/off stat (correct wattage rating) will do the job but with a few peaks and troughs in temperature. A temperature range of 30-32 celcius at the hot end to 24 celcius at the cold end gives a good target range. Allowing the temperature to drop lower overnight gives a more realistic representation of the natural environment and having a lower overall temprature duiring months with shorter days can stimulate them to come into breeding condition. However for basic care the normal temperature range will suffice. Having a thermostat is essential. Reptiles can tolerate lower temperatures for some time, simply becoming less active but over temperature can kill them very quickly. The thermostat prevents this happening. Have a seperate temperature guage as well. Thermostats have been known to fail so knowing what the temperature actually is can be vital.

Lighting

UVB lighting is not necessary to keep your gopher snake healthy and active. However a day night cycle does help this diurnal snake replicate normal behaviour patterns. Also, you want to be able to see your snake so some form of lighting is beneficial. I like to use LED lighting. This has two advantages, the LEDs produce hardly any extra heat so do not interfere with the control of your heating system or cause burns if touched by the snake and they last many tens of thousands of hours longer that an incadescent lamp or even an energy efficiant fluorescent tube/lamp. You can use the other types of lighting but if using incadescent or halogen, the lamp must be protected by a cage to prevent burning. Energy efficient lamps don’t genreally produce enough heat to burn, which is after all why they are energy efficient.

Feeding

As the name “gopher snake” suggests, these snakes eat mainly small rodents in the wild. In captivity you will have no trouble feeding defrosted mice and rats. Size the food items appropriately to the snake, generally not more thatn 1 1/2 times the snakes head diameter, although that is a guide and they will take slightly larger. It is illegal to feed live vertebrate animals to other animals in the UK, unless the animal in question is at risk if not fed live food. There is no way this could be claimed for any gopher snake. All the specimens I have ever come across are good feeders on defrosted mice/rats. Feeding live rodents is a bad idea in any case as they bite back and could well end up injuring your prized snake. There will always be someone who insists they have to use live. I have a few words to describe these people. Pop in and see me in the shop if you want to know what they are, I can’t publish them here. Defrost the food naturally, not in a microwave. This can heat up the inside of the food and activate necrotic bacteria and give your snake food poisoning. Once defrosted, pop the rat in a poly bag and stick it under your arm to raise to blood temperature and the snake will feed. In the 16 years (at time of writing) I have had my bull snake it has only had two bouts of not feeding, one lasting five months and one three months. Both times were as an adult and there was nothing wrong with the snake. If your snake misses a feed I would leave it for a couple of weeks before attempting again or you may just waste a few rats.

San Diego Gopher Snake
San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens) Feeding On A Small Defrosted Mouse

Lifespan

In the wild, gopher snakes have a lifespan of around 15 years. Captive snakes suffer far less risk and stress throughout their lives (or should do if you are looking after them properly). No predation, environmental controls giving all year round good weather and food on a plate. This leads to much longer lifespans. The oldest I have heard of was reported to be 33 years old. 20-25 years is common. Mine is currently sixteen and is just as active as when he was two.

So gopher snakes (and bull snakes), make excellent first snakes as an alternative to the commoner corn snake or as a next snake for something a little larger and more active. They are much less commonly avaiable however so you may have to shop around to get one.

Angell Pets Current Livestock List

Time to post a new current livestock list for Angell Pets Hucclecote store. All are on our website but it’s good to put everything in one post from time to time. I have added a couple of “coming soon” items this time as the arrival of these animals is fairly imminent (next week or the week after). We are a little light on spiders this week  but we will be getting some more very soon. I haven’t added these to the list as I haven’t decided which we are getting yet.

Invertebrates

  • Fruit Beetles
  • Deaths Head Cockroach
  • Madagascan Hissing Cockroach
  • Headlight Cockroach
  • Indian Stick Insect
  • Giant Spiny Stick Insect
  • Giant Prickly Stick Insect
  • Dwarf White Woodlice
  • Tropical Grey Woodlice
  • Giant Orange Woodlice
  • Argentinian Star Tarantula
  • Cameroon Red Baboon Spider
  • Flame Rump Tree Spider
  • Guyana Goliath Birdeater
  • Hati Hati Purple Tarantula
  • King Baboon Spider
  • Malaysian Earth Tiger
  • Mexican Red Rump Tarantula
  • Togo Starburst
  • African Land Snail
  • Giant Malaysian Shield Mantis *COMING SOON*

Amphibians

  • Alpine Newt
  • Whites Tree Frog
  • Albino Horned Frog *COMING SOON*

Reptiles

  • Rankins Dragon
  • Chinese Water Dragon *COMING SOON*
  • Leopard Gecko “Montanus”
  • Madagascan Giant Day Gecko
  • Kotschys Gecko
  • “Kastanie” Corn Snake
  • Milksnake
  • Kenyan Sand Boa
  • Common Boa
  • Carpet Python
  • “Chocolate” Royal Python *COMING SOON*
  • Marginated Tortoise

Birds

  • Timineh African Greyt Parrot
  • White Faced Cockatiel
  • Grey Cockatiel
  • Budgerigar
  • Java Sparrow
  • Zebra Finch
  • Yellow Canary
  • Orange Canary

Mammals

  • Fancy Mouse
  • Dumbo Rat
  • Syrian Hamster
  • Gerbil
  • Guinea Pig *COMING SOON*
  • Lion Lop Rabbit

Fish

  • Coldwater *COMING SOON*
  • Temperate *COMING SOON*
  • Tropical *COMING SOON*

Please note our list changes daily. For example if I had writeen this before opening this morning it would also have contained guinea pigs in stock and a Yemen chameleon, so please get in touch to see what we have in our Angell Pets Hucclecote store on any given day. Alternatively visit our website.

 

The Angell Pets Team

Current livestock list growing

Following on from our move to Hucclecote we are now growing our list of livestock in store and available to order. Every now and then I post the current list. I don’t do it too often as it changes almost daily but a quick post of what we currently have is often welcomed by our customers.

We do not have birds or fish at present. We can’t stock birds until we have finished painting because of the fumes and the area where the fish are going has only just been re-plastered ready for the tanks to go in. Obviously the tanks have to be matured before we can put fish in them.

Please note this list is only what we have in store and does not include the much larger range available to order.

So here is the current list as it stands today, it will be changing tomorrow.

Mammals

gerbil

Reptiles and Amphibians

Cave gecko

Spiders

tarantula

Other invertebrates

mantis

The Angell Pets Team

 

 

Current Livestock

Our livestock list changes daily but every now and then I like to post a current list just to keep everyone up to speed with the types of animals we stock or can get. It is a bit of a double edged sword. If I post everything we can get, we are flooded with requests for animals that are not currently available. If on the other hand I post just what we have in at present, people get the impression that this is all we can get. So we have all our current stock on our web store (although it cannot be ordered from there, you need to come in for livestock) and I post a current list from time to time on here so people can see that it is changing regularly.

Here is the list as of today. Please note that it could well be very different tomorrow.

FIsh

tropical fish

Amphibians

phantasmal dart frog

Reptiles

common boa

Invertebrates

tarantula

Birds

african grey parrot

Small mammals

gerbil

ferret

If you are after something you cannot see, do give us call. We have an extensive list of breeders we can call on.

 

The Angell Pets Team

New Year – New Stock

The New Year is well underway and we have a lot of new livestock in store and even more available to order. Every now and then I post what we have in our shop so now would be a good time for an update.

Birds

red canary

African grey (Timneh)

Cockatiels (coloured)

Budgies (rainbow)

Canary (green)

Canary (red)

Java sparrows (silver)

Zebra finches

Chinese painted quail female (white)

 

Mammals

rabbit

Rabbits (mini lop)

Guinea pigs

Rats (dumbo and top eared)

Mice

Gerbils

Syrian hamsters

Reptiles

cave gecko

Cornsnake (amelanistic)

Cornsnake (ghost)

Milksnakes

Common boas

Kenyan sand boa

Carpet python

Royal python (pastel)

Bearded dragon

Leopard gecko

Flame crested gecko

Chinese cave gecko

Kotschys gecko

Madagascan giant day gecko

Yemen chameleon

Marginated tortoise

Red Eared Slider Turtle

Yellow Belly Turtle

Musk Turtle

 

Amphibian

phantasmal dart frog

Phantasmal Arrow Frog

Whites Tree Frog

 

Spiders

brazilian black

Brazilian black (juvenile)

Brazilian red rump (sub adult)

Costa Rican big bstd (sub adult)

Curly hair (spiderling)

Giant white knee (juvenile)

Haitian brown (spiderling – large)

Hati Hati purple (spiderlings – large)

Mexican red rump (spiderling)

Mexican red leg (spiderling, sub adult)

Mexican pink (sub adult)

Mexican rose grey (spiderling)

Socotra Island blue baboon (juvenile)

Thai zebra (adult female)

Togo starburst (spiderling – large)

Trinidad chevron (spiderling – large)

 

Insects

mantis

Deaths head cockroach

Fruit beetle

Giant spiny stick insect

Indian stick insect

Cameroon Mantis

Griffin Mantis

Other Invertebrates

Yellow rabbit snail

Red onion snail

Fish – Coldwater

Assorted Goldfish

Zebra Danio

Leopard Danio

Pearl Danio

Glowlight Danio

Butterfly Plec

Fish – Tropical

Bronze Corydora

Endler Guppy

Splendid Rasbora

Galaxy Rasbora

Albino Halfbeak

Lampeye

Cherry Barb

Glowlight tetra

Blonde Guppy Female

Clown Loach

Black Lyre Tail Molly

Orange Lyre Tail Molly

Mixed Lyre Tail Molly

We will be getting more fish stock soon.

The Angell Pets Team

 

 

 

 

 

Free food for a month with ALL complete set ups

From now until the end of December we have a fantastic offer on. Buy ANY complete set up, for any animal and receive one months food FREE.

pet shop gloucester cornsnake

We have a range of set ups for birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates to suit all budgets.Complete set ups include the housing, relevant equipment for that animal, substrate, decor where relevant, the animal itself and now, in addition, one months food FREE.

rankins-dragon
We have set ups for budgies, cockatiels, finches and canaries, parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats and mice, gerbils and hamsters, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, day geckos, crested geckos, chameleons, cornsnakes, milksnakes, boas, pythons, frogs, tarantulas, mantids, stick insects and many more.

hog island boa
All our set ups are put together by the most experienced and qualified team in Gloucester so you get all the correct and  best equipment for your new animal. You can contact us here or on Facebook or on 01452 501882 to find out more.

Exo Terra

 

The Angell Pets Team

Reptile Boarding

Our Reptile Boarding facility here at Angell Pets has grown rapidly in popularity since being launched a couple of years ago.

reptile boarding

Most of our customers, lucky enough to go on holiday each year, are returning to book their animals in each time and new people are hearing about our reptile boarding service and using us for the first time. Peak times are now booked up months in advance. For example Easter and August this year were both virtually fully booked two months in advance.

small animal boarding

We have some space this summer left in July and September with a few odd days only in August for reptile boarding. We do have a little space left for birds and small animals but not much.

reptile boarding

Hermann’s tortoise

If you wish to take advantage of our excellent reptile boarding rates and have your animals looked after by top qualified staff please do book now to avoid disappointment.

Contact us on 01452 501882 to reserve space.

The Angell Pets Team

Hog Island Boa Care Sheet

Hog Island boas are an island variety of common boa. The two main differences are size and colouration. Hog Island boas are naturally hypomelanistic (low in black pigment). This allows the other colours to stand out more, giving a lovely muted pattern of light browns and pinks to orange and even blue. Adult female common boas may reach 12 feet but it is very rare for a Hog Island boa to get above 6 feet and males generally reach 4 feet. Common boas would make great first snakes if it were not for their adult size. The smaller size of the Hog Island boa makes it a great alternative to the often fussy royal python as a choice of first snake. This Hog Island boa care sheet sets out the basics for you.

hog island boa

Housing

Obviously the other “advantage” the Hog Island boa has over the larger commons is that being smaller, they require less space, allowing for a smaller enclosure. The old rule of thumb, length of vivarium plus depth of vivarium equals length of snake shows a three foot vivarium large enough for all but the largest specimens and a four foot enough for even a large female. So for someone wanting a boa but without the space (or the funds) to house a large common, the Hog Island boa makes an obvious choice.

As to keeping a smaller Hog Island boa in a small box until it is bigger and more confident. Can you? Well, yes you can. Do you have to? Well, no you don’t. If you want to house a young Hog Island boa in the vivarium that will last into adulthood and beyond, that is fine. Just ensure there are plenty of places for it to hide away in different areas of the viv.

Heating

The Hog Island boa comes from the tropical Cayos Cachinos Islands off the coast of Honduras. So they need heat and a reasonable level of humidity (although not wet). Around 29C at the hot end and a humidity level of around 60% is fine. I prefer heating with a ceramic heat emitter and this must have a cage around it to prevent contact with the snake and consequent burns. Due to the smaller size of the Hog Island boa you could use a heat mat (mounted on the end wall of the viv. to prevent thermal blocking). Which ever you use, a thermostat to control the temperature is essential. Over heating will damage a snake much more quickly than under heating. Of the two methods of heating mentioned, heat mats and on/off thermostats are cheaper, whilst ceramics and pulse proportional thermostats give a finer level of control.

hog island boa

Lighting

The Hog Island boa generally does not require specialist lighting but why have a snake in a vivarium and then not be able to see it? I find the best modern solution to be LED lighting. Most are neat, quite stylish, don’t generate heat so don’t need to be guarded, can come in a variety of colours (some will automatically change from day to night lighting if you want to be flash), are low voltage inside the viv, are energy efficient, last the lifetime of the snake so don’t require regular replacement of blown lamps…As you can see I am quite sold on them. However properly guarded incandescent lamps can be used (but take the heat generated into consideration) and fluorescent tubes work well but will need to be replaced occasionally.

hog island boa

Substrate

I prefer bark chips (orchid bark) for a Hog Island boa. The dark colour sets off the snake well and this substrate works well as a holder of moisture, helping to maintain some humidity. Other substrates can be used, aspen, lignocel, beech chip, cage carpet etc. Humidity can be maintained by positioning of the water bowl – at the hot end increases humidity as the water evaporates. Water should be changed daily anyway so it will not be there long enough for it all to disappear. In the end the choice of substrate is yours, most cost around the same so that shouldn’t be a factor. Whatever you want for your Hog Island boa.

Decor

As with most snakes, a hide of some description is a must so the Hog Island boa has somewhere to go when it feels the need to be secure. More than one is better, so the snake can choose the temperature of the hide it wants to use. A hide is also a good place to put some damp moss for localised increase of humidity when shedding. Some form of branch is good (environmental or habitat enrichment to get all professional) to allow climbing behaviour. Aside from these it’s your viv. so it’s your choice. Silk plants are an attractive addition to a vivarium (real plants work too but you may spend more time looking after them than the Hog Island boa) and of course a skull always looks good with a snake coming out the eye socket. No? Just me then.

Feeding

Apart from an Amazon Tree Boa I had once (there is always one), every boa I have had has been a good feeder. The Hog Island boa is no exception. I have heard that they can go off their food if they feel insecure but if you have the correct set up in your vivarium this is not going to happen. Mice for smaller specimens is fine but I would get onto rats as soon as possible as larger ones are going to need larger food and there is a possibility it could get habituated to mice. Not the Hog Island boa examples I have had though. They eat anything (well not really anything but you get the point). As with any snake, don’t feed too large a mouse or rat though. There are a lot of risks associated with this, from refusing food to regurgitating later to damage to the insides of the snake from sharp rat claws etc. It’s just not worth risking it for no perceivable benefit to the snake. I feed once a week on smaller food up to once every two weeks for larger. The snake will let you know. Oh and I always use tongs for feeding. A nice smell of rat coupled with a nice warm hand can result in a snake striking at the wrong thing. A Hog Island boa is no exception to this potential confusion.

Handling

The Hog Island boa is quite a docile snake and certainly doesn’t seem to mind being handled (I can’t speak snake so I wouldn’t like to say they enjoy it). As with all snakes, the more secure they feel the less likely to try to escape, strike etc. The more points of contact on its body, the more secure the snake will feel. Always approach a snake from behind, never from in front of its head. The Hog Island boa has a lot of very highly tuned sensors (nostrils, eyes, tongue and Jacobson’s organ and heat pits) Continue reading

Exo Terra Approved Supplier

Exo Terra, along with all the other Hagen brands such as Fluval, Marina, Glo, VivExotic etc. was starting to suffer from poor after sales support from some of the on line sellers of their products. The brand recently took the decision to regain control over who could sell their products to ensure buyers could be confident the seller knew what they were selling, could give advice where needed and provided after sales support and of course, actually held their products in stock.

Angell Pets have been through Hagen’s (Exo Terra parent brand) rigorous approval process and have obtained approved supplier status. This is because we stock the products, have access through a number of routes to replacement stock, have qualified staff that are able to give advice both on the products and the animals associated with them and are able (and willing!) to give after sales support to customers that use our on line web store and our “real” shop in Gloucester.

You can tell if a supplier is approved and therefore able to sell and support Exo Terra products because they will display the logo. If this logo is not displayed, don’t buy from that “supplier” as the products have not come through the official channels.

exo terra

The Exo Terra range is a well known and respected brand within the hobby and is constantly being reviewed, updated and improved. This is why we are proud to be listed as approved Exo Terra (and other Hagen brands) stockists.

Exo Terra

If you wish to buy an Exo Terra product you can go on line to our web store and order that way, call us on 01452 501882 or drop by the shop in Gloucester. If you have any questions regarding Exo Terra products or keeping any animal do feel free to contact us by any of the above means or using the contact form on this site.

exo terra

 

The Exo Terra range is quite large (the full Hagen brands range absolutely huge!) and we do not claim to have every product in stock at all times. Those we do not currently have are only a few days away at most however so if you need an Exo Terra product that you cannot see on our web site just call us and we will order it in for you.

 

Don’t forget, local Exo Terra customers also benefit from Angell Pets’ FREE LOCAL DELIVERY service on all purchases.

The Angell Pets Team

 

Pet Shop Gloucester tips on general snake handling

Pet Shop Gloucester tips. Just a brief post on 5 top tips on handling NON VENOMOUS snakes from your favourite Gloucester pet shop.

  • If your snake has just fed, DON’T HANDLE IT. Handling a snake after it has just fed can be at best unpleasant and at worst dangerous. Snakes swallow their food whole and rely on strong stomach acids to break it down. Whilst this happens relatively quickly, for the first 24 – 48 hours the snake has a large, hard object in a small, confined space. In the wild they would lay up during this period and allow the acids to do their work. Handling causes the snake to move around and this puts pressure on its stomach (or in the case of inexperienced handlers they may actually squeeze the area). This action can make the snake regurgitate the meal (if it hasn’t already as a threat response), bringing up the very strong stomach acid with it, which can cause damage. Even worse, if the snake doesn’t regurgitate and the meal is still undigested other internal organs can be damaged by the pressure, if handled roughly (or dropped). Then of course there is the risk to you. Even a docile snake may strike when it has just been fed or is digesting its meal. It knows you shouldn’t be picking it up even if you don’t.
  • pet shop gloucester reptile boarding

    One Of Our Reptile Boarders Being Fed

For more advice on feeding snakes come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • If your snake is shedding, DON’T HANDLE IT. It’s not so much that it dangerous for the snake (although it may lead to incomplete shedding) but with its eyes clouded over it can’t see. Would you be in good mood if you suddenly had one of your senses taken away? The snake still has other, very accurate senses, so it can and will tag you.

For more advice on problem shedding come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • So assuming your snake is not shedding and has not been fed within the last 48 hours the most important things is to BE CONFIDENT. Most people who keep snakes will tell you the snake can sense it if you’re nervous. I don’t think they have any ability to sense nerves in you at all, however they can pick up on your body language. If you go in with a hesitant hand, that’s shaking or moving in then pulling back etc. the poor old snake doesn’t know what is going on. When they are unsure of a situation they naturally get defensive and may well strike. I can and have, on several occasions, demonstrated this in the shop where I can simulate a nervous owner and get even a cornsnake to strike or conversely, be confident with a rather nippy kingsnake and not get tagged. In fact someone once brought such a kingsnake into the shop, complete with viv. (as they couldn’t get the snake out, it was so aggressive). The snake was hissing and striking at the glass. I opened the viv. picked the snake straight up and it was quite calm. The owner then hesitantly took the snake off me and promptly got bitten on the neck. Which takes us to the next point.

For more advice or demonstrations on snake handling come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Keep the snake away from your face. If a snake does bite it should only be able, at worst, to get your hand. If it gets anywhere else, guess what? That was your fault. Staring up close into the face of a snake is a bad idea. Snakes are carnivores, their senses for the most part are binocular and forward facing in order to judge direction, distance and to strike accurately. This means they are particularly sensitive to anything immediately in front of them that moves. If you wave your hand about in front of your snakes head, or worse your nose (especially if it’s as big as mine) you are much more likely to get tagged. Also all reptiles can carry salmonella. Letting a snake touch your face near your mouth (i.e. kissing it!!) is really a bad idea.

For more advice on being bitten by snakes (especially if the snake won’t let go !!) call us at our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Wash your hands afterwards. As stated, snakes can carry salmonella. This bacterium is quite likely to be found on the snakes skin. They poop in the viv and move around – it will transfer bacteria onto its skin. You will be letting the snake run through your hands, you will touch it near its cloaca (vent) where the poop comes out so you will get bacteria on your hands. If you don’t wash your hands immediately you will be transferring bacteria everywhere you touch. Salmonella is a dangerous infection, potentially fatal in infants, the elderly and immune suppressed individuals. If you are fit and healthy you will survive but you will never want to get it again. I have had the disease. It is unpleasant, debilitating, incredibly painful and will take some time to recover from. All you have to do to avoid getting it, or giving it to your family, is wash your hands, preferably with an anti bacterial hand wash. We sell them, so you have no excuse. Also some snakes carry diseases that can be passed onto other snakes, the one that springs to mind is IBD (inclusion body disease) that can infect boids (pythons and boas). It is highly contagious and always fatal to the snake. Always disinfect when moving from one boid viv. to another or any other enclosure for that matter. Cross contamination by the owner is the commonest vector for the spread of mites, for example. An alcohol hand wash will kill any eggs on your skin (it dehydrates them) as well as any bacteria and the mechanical action also helps lift dirt that is harbouring other pathogens.

For more advice on reptile hygiene contact us at our pet shop Gloucester 

I hope these tips are of use. If you have any more questions or need more advanced help with anything just get in touch with our pet shop Gloucester and we will try to help.