Pet Snake and Lizard Care Sheets, Tips and Hacks

Snake Hacks features pet snake care, tips, and hacks targeting both those new to the hobby and those who’ve been around for a while. This site mainly focuses on nonvenomous pet snakes including popular colubrids, select pythons, and boas. Some other reptiles kept as pets are included as well.

Snake Hacks welcomes those new to the hobby!

The beginning

It’s always best to start at the beginning. I’ve been keeping reptiles and amphibians since the early 1980s. To this day, my mother tells a story of when I was three or four years old. She would take me for a walk around the block where a neighbor had a very large snake.

It was either a boa or a python. He would allow it to roam freely on his front lawn. All the other kids were afraid of the snake, I was not. I would approach the snake while the owner yelled at me to stay back. My recollection is foggy, but I can still flash a vague picture of the snake in my mind.

I’m not really sure how I got into reptiles and amphibians but I think it may have had something to do with a television program from the 1970s. The Land of the Lost was a trip. I loved that program and they don’t make television like that anymore.

It featured dinosaurs and reptilian humanoids known as the Sleestak. It was then that I began to develop an appreciation for scales. For a show intended for children, it offered complicated themes of inter-dimensional doorways and time travel. Heavy concepts for a young mind. 

The first steps 

If you like dinosaurs and reptilian humanoids as a child, what’s the logical conclusion? First, it was toads and turtles I found locally. Then lizards, frogs, newts, salamanders, and tropical fish. My mother tells another story of when I would travel to ponds, swamps, and creeks with a pillowcase.

Whenever I would come home she would run to the window to see if there was something in the sack. On a good day, there was. It took me a while to convince my parents to allow me to have a snake but once they did, I got hooked. When I turned 16 (which was the legal age to get a job), I left my uncle’s plumbing business to work at the local pet shop.

Introduced to the reptile industry, I met all kinds of characters. While much of the industry has changed drastically since then, some things have not.

Controversy in the reptile industry 

There is certainly no lack of controversy when it comes to the reptile industry. It’s always been this way. So many people have different opinions about reptile husbandry.

Bullsnake
Bullsnake

What’s the right way of doing things and what’s wrong. Have you ever noticed that there isn’t a single reptile ‘celebrity’ in the industry without his (or her) fair share of infamy?

Sometimes they deserve their infamy while other times they don’t. Honestly, I can’t think of a single person who has made a name for themselves in this industry who hasn’t received major criticism. Especially once the internet came along. The internet has been both a blessing and a curse for many.

Variable Kingsnake
Thayer's kingsnake

The purpose of Snake Hacks

I don’t claim to have all the answers and learn something new every day. Still, I have lots of experience with the subjects I’ll be covering. Snake Hacks is a website about reptiles I have successfully kept over the years while solving their problems that have come up along the way.

This is what has worked for me and it might work for you too.

I know there will be people who disagree with the views expressed on Snake Hacks, that’s to be expected in such a critical and competitive scene. It’s also not a problem, everyone has their opinion and there are different ways of achieving the same result.

I’ll also honestly admit to the errors I’ve made over the years in hopes that you won’t make the same ones. That’s where the idea behind Snake Hacks came from.

The opposition 

As if fellow-hobbyist bickering among ourselves isn’t enough, we have people out there who absolutely and indiscriminately hate snakes. These people would like to see the snake keeping hobby banned altogether. They are also the type of people who will purposely run over a snake with their car when they see one attempting to cross a road.

Do you know what the most dangerous animal on planet earth is? If you guessed humans, you’re correct. No animal on earth has caused more damage to nature and our ecosystem than humankind and its selfish endeavors.

When you think about it, wild snakes do a great service to humans. Many species feed on disease-carrying rodents. If you don’t think rodents pose that much of a threat to humans, I suggest you read about the Black Death that wiped out 60% of Europe’s population. Maybe then, with a new appreciation for snakes, you’ll allow them to pass across the road safely like you would a cute, plague-carrying squirrel. 

Their debate. A snake cannot be considered a pet

As for addressing the debate on whether snakes are considered as pets, this also comes down to ignorance. Some people simply cannot see past keeping a dog or cat as a pet because they don’t understand, or see the value in keeping a reptile or amphibian.

Yes, snakes and lizards can make good, even affectionate pets like cats and dogs. That doesn’t mean they are kept the same way cats and dogs are. They’re still reptiles with certain limitations needing specialized care. Not to worry. Once you learn the ropes, it’s pretty easy.

Of course, being a reptile keeper comes with its own responsibilities. They’re not toys and should never be bought on a whim. Do your research.

Very important: You should always have a setup for your new reptile or amphibian completely ready to go before you get the animal. With the internet, care sheets are everywhere; there’s really no excuse for being unprepared today. 

Storytime along with some common sense 

This reminds me of a story back from my first job at the pet store when I was 16. The owner took me in the back room on my first day. Curly tail lizards were hot sellers back then and I had a few of them.

Using a curly tail lizard as an example, he stated that while I may know more about curly tail lizard care than he did, he knew how to sell a curly tail lizard. He instructed me to always sell the lizard first. If the customers didn’t have money for lighting or heating, they could come back another time. This is wrong on so many levels.

At the time, we were in New York and it was winter. Keeping such a lizard without proper heating and lighting will indefinitely lead to failure. The owner of the pet store could have made more money selling the equipment necessary for the lizard’s survival.

He also wouldn’t have to replace the dead lizard returned to his store after a week. There were many of those. An intelligent business owner? I don’t think so. While he’s now retired, this approach is still practiced today by some.

Pet Snake Care Sheets, Tips and Hacks

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