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Choosing a Pet Snake

March 1, 2021

Are you consi dering adopting a pet snake? If so, you’ll need to take care when picking your pet. If you have a lot of experience caring for reptiles, and are able to rehabilitate a sick snake, great. Otherwise, you’ll want to pick one that is in good shape. A local vet offers some tips on this in this article from Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO vet clinic, serving Louisville and surrounding areas. 


B  ody Condition

Your snake should feel firm and supple, with a good layer of muscle. You generally shouldn’t feel or see bones sticking out. The snake should also move gracefully.


Scales

Healthy snakes have smooth, shiny scales. Your potential pet should not look dull. You’ll also want to check for lesions, burns, or scratches. Another thing to look for would be small dark specks, which would look rather like coffee grounds. These are mites. While mites can be treated, their presence alone is an indication that the snake hasn’t been cared for properly. 


Eyes

You’ll also want to look at the snake’s eyes. They should be clear and bright, not red or watery. They also shouldn’t have any discharge or dried crust around them. 


Nose/Mouth

Discharge from the mouth or nostrils is a red flag. The snake’s gums should be pink, not greyish or green, and it should also breathe quietly through his nose. Also, look for any sort of swelling or asymmetry.


Dirt

Snakes are quite clean. You shouldn’t see any dirt, urates, or fecal matter on them. This would generally be a sign that a snake has been kept in a dirty tank, and/or may have been too weak to move out of its waste. This can also be a sign of parasitic infestations or other medical issues.


Behavior 

Finally, observe the snake’s behavior. Even if it’s not the most active snake you’ve seen, it should be alert, and flicking its tongue to collect information about its surroundings. Many snakes also don’t like being picked up, so it’s not a bad sign if it tries to move away initially. 


Tips

Even if you choose a snake that appears healthy, it’s important to have your vet examine it. This should be done soon after you adopt your scaled buddy. 


Do you have questions about snake care? Contact Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO animal hospital, serving Louisville and surrounding areas. 

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