Hoping to start in reptiles - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-02-2015, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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Hoping to start in reptiles

Hello! I've been tentatively thinking about getting a reptile sometime in the near future, depending on how well scholarship money for colleges goes. I recently attended a reptile convention to actually see some of these guys, and I think I'm really starting to get interested in this family. I was most interested in an Irya Jaya Carpet Python. Does anybody have experience with these guys? Would they be good for beginners? How active are they as adults? I held a juvenile and she was pretty active, while her adult sister was much calmer and was only moving a little bit in her pen. Are they good feeders? Also, how much would you say you spend on feeding (say, per month)? I know it depends on where you live, but it's definitely something for me to consider. Also, does anybody here feed their snakes chicks (whole) consistently? I heard their poo is really smelly, is it true? Is it easy to get snakes to take new food? I keep hearing consistency is key to getting them to feed, but it also seems like some people will randomly give their snakes treats?
Also, can anybody give me a good link or explanation on what exactly to keep snakes/reptiles in? A lot of people use aquariums, but I've heard that's not good to use since it releases humidity or something?
Lastly, does anybody know how to ease somebody's fear of reptiles? If I am getting a snake, I'd be living at home for college. My dad brought up that he doesn't like reptiles after I brought up the subject (which I never knew, oddly enough). I know I'll never forcibly change him, but is there anything I could do/say that have worked for others in convincing them to keep a reptile? He already knows how responsible and etc I am.
Thank you all so much for your help!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2015, 02:03 PM
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why don't you start with something simple like some leopard geckos or a bearded dragon? they are common, you might even be able to adopt one through a local shelter (check petfinder online). that would be a good entree into reptile keeping, and would be a benign enough critter to break your dad in. snakes are more likely to intimidate people, and in reality far more likely to bite you and make your dad's fear even worse. start simple until you gain experience and your dad is comfortable. just some thoughts...
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2015, 11:28 PM
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The best Beginner snakes are corn snakes and ball pythons. Both are very docile and easy to care for. Most snakes need one appropriate sized mouse/rat once a week, you can buy them frozen and thaw them out in warm water, corns and balls with both take frozen food without question. The best thing to keep them in is a breeder rack in a sweater box, although corns will do great in an aquarium and balls you will need to watch the humidity, but it won't take much. I was personally fearful of snakes and jumped in head first to get over it. If you decide on a ball, tell your dad the reason they are called ball pythons is they tend to curl into a ball rather than strike when scared. Also both corns and balls come in many morphs that can be bred together and sold for quite a bit of money, so maybe your dad can be financially motivated to enjoy them.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2015, 06:20 AM
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@TheDrake- I'm going to have to disagree with you. I have a Corn Snake and a Bearded Dragon and the Beardie is 10x harder to care for than the snake. Beardies have need very specific lighting, a varied diet, multiple kinds of feeder insects, specific supplements, and usually they need more room than most easy snakes. Plus, there's no reason someone cant start with snakes if that is what they are interested in.

@Warbler- Some common beginner snakes are Corn Snakes, King Snakes, Spotted Pythons, Western Hognoses, and Milk Snakes, but that doesn't mean you can't get an Irya Jaya Carpet Python, as they aren't the trickiest of snakes and don't grow too large. I don't have personal experience with them, but your best bet on care would be looking up online care sheets and visiting forums dedicated to snakes, pythons, or Carpet Pythons. Here is a good sheet to start off with- http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Care...on-Care-Sheet/ Some general advice: use an under-tank heater, ALWAYS use a thermostat, invest in a good thermometer, and get an animal that is already eating frozen thawed food.

On the subject of food, most people only use one type of feeder, and their snakes get it according to their size. My juvenile girl is feed every 5 days, but when she is an adult she will be fed every other week. Usually Carpet Pythons eat rats, which are very easy to find frozen that you can thaw and reheat.

It depends on the snake what you can and cannot house them in. Snakes that need higher humidity don't do well in aquariums, but snakes with normal or lower humidity do fine. You can also use plastic bins from Walmart or Target that are appropriately sized and have holes drilled into them for ventilation. Many companies produce premade cages that you can order and they are usually very good at keeping in heat and humidity. Animal Plastics is one of the largest companies and they have a large array of available designs.

My mother isn't fond of reptiles either and my father won't go near my snake, but for the most part it isn't an issue. They mainly stay in my room and only come out if I'm hanging out with them in the living room or if guests want to see them, but this is pretty rare. I've found exposure is the bast way for people to get over their fear, but they have to want to overcome their fear. Originally my mom shouldn't even touch my Beardie, but now see likes to feed him collard greens and has even held my snake. Just offer him an out of sight out of mind deal with the chance to get up close and personally if he chooses, but don't force interaction. The worse thing you can do for someone that doesn't like snakes or other reptiles is force them to be near them when they don't want to.

Lastly, are you going to college soon? Will you be living in a dorm? Please be aware that snakes take up a lot of space, and you're potentially looking at a 3 or 4 foot cage, which wouldn't fit well in a dorm room. Also, snakes live 15-20 years on average, so you need to make sure that you'l have the time, money, and room to house a snake far after college is over.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2015, 07:39 AM Thread Starter
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TheDrake-I'd prefer not to get a lizard right now, but thank you for the advice (I do love them though, especially when they're babies!). Beardies are a little too high maintenance for me, and I'd like a reptile that still allows me to focus on my fish and my schoolwork.
Balls are a little too shy for my, though thank you for the suggestion. The reason I'm more drawn to IJ Carpets is because I've heard they tend to be a little more active while still staying relatively small and keeping that python look.
JellOh-Thanks for the advice. Yes, I will be going to college very soon, but I'm still not sure on whether I'm going away to a dorm, or will be commuting from home. If I go to a dorm the college doesn't allow snakes, only fish, so no snake there. Is the only reason to use a UTH instead of a heat bulb because of humidity issues? That's what I've been hearing a lot.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2015, 07:29 PM
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Humidity and the type of heat that snakes use are the main reasons. Bulbs can really dry out a viv especially if you're aiming to keep the substrait damp. Beardies warm themselves using the sun and actually can't recognize heat coming from below them. In a similar fashion, snakes recognize belly heat and are drawn to it. Also, and this is a personal preference, I don't like the red night bulbs you would have to use when heating a tank at night, so under-tank heaters are a nice, discrete way to warm up your vivarium.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-08-2015, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, thanks! That makes it much clearer. Can you do a vivarium style tank with snakes? I can't seem to find many pictures of one, I'm assuming it's because snakes are more likely to crush plants?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 06:24 PM
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I actually work with reptiles for a living

Yes, snakes are smelly. Some are worse than others. Some snakes can musk kind of like a skunk. Thankfully, captive bred snakes that are used to handling rarely musk.

My first recommendation would be: do not get a snake if someone in your household is at all uncomfortable with them. Snakes are absolutely escape artists, and even if you are very responsible and think you will never leave the cage door unlocked, accidents happen. At work we once lost a 18 foot Burmese python for half a day; and we are professionals with over 90 years experience between the four of us (found the Burm underneath our boss's desk, who is terrified of snakes: Murphy's Law says that is exactly where you'd find a giant snake lol). It is, in my opinion, irresponsible to take over the care of an animal when you are dependent on the goodwill of the person who is afraid of that animal for shelter and lodging. What if the snake does get out accidentally? Will your father then demand that you get rid of your snake? Make sure you go over with your dad the real possibility of escape, and the steps you plan on taking to 1) prevent it and 2) how you would deal with the situation if/when it does occur. Recognizing and planning for worse-case scenarios is absolutely required when caring for any animal.

Snakes can also live a very long time; I currently work with a Pueblan milksnake who was hatched in 1989. It is extremely difficult to find an rental property that will accept a pet snake, since snake phobias are so very common. This is not to say, don't get a snake, but please have a plan for what you will do if you are unable to find a property that will allow you to keep your snake.

Speaking of college; please consider the ongoing costs of a snake; both money and time costs. Every little bit adds up, and there are times I had to scrimp myself to feed my animals through college. Add in vet bills, and there were semesters where I was unable to pay my tuition because my animal needed emergency care. My own self, I wish I had waited to add animals to my life until after I graduated. You really can't know the drain on your time and finances until you are actually taking full-time college classes. Some days I barely had time to brush my hair and teeth, let alone soak my milksnake who was going through a bad shed. If I even noticed she was going through a bad shed. We both made it through, but it wasn't easy by any stretch.

Carpet pythons, depending on subspecies, range from 5-13 feet, which on the higher end is pretty darn big- not Bum or Retic big, but still more than a lot of people who are new to snakes are able or willing to handle. IJ's are one of the more reasonable, at 5-6 feet, maybe 7 on the outside. I've also found carpets to be more reactive than most of the beginner snakes: more likely to mistake you for food, more easily startled. Not really aggressive per se, but... reactive. Great for people who know what their are doing, but a challenge for those that don't. The babies I have found to be particularly snappy- not all of them, but more than you'd find in ball pythons or North American colubrids. Most calm down, eventually, but I've known some truly nasty carpet pythons. They are also more likely to have medical issues than the more typical beginner snakes, and they are more demanding of their environment and care. This isn't to say you shouldn't get one- just be aware of what you are getting into!

Most snakes that will live happily in a vivarium are not considered beginner snakes. Green tree pythons, rough green snakes, etc, are all considered more sensitive than what most people are able to deal with when they are first getting into snakes. Some of them are still wild caught as well, which introduces a whole slew of other issues. An exception would be the gartersnake; they are semiaquatic and I have seen some wonderful vivaria dedicated to gartersnakes.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-12-2015, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot for the information, that's a lot of good stuff to consider! Yeah I'd definitely talk over escape with him, he'd be furious if I just conveniently happened to forget that it might/will occasionally escape and it one day ended up in his bedroom.
Can you elaborate on their environmental needs and care? Does it mean like they aren't animals where you must clean up messes in their tanks ASAP, need to include buy nutrients to include in their diets, etc?
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 12:26 AM
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Carpets are just more sensitive in general than the typical "beginner" snake; by beginner snake I'm talking cornsnakes, milksnakes, kingsnakes, gophersnakes and even ball pythons. They are more fussy when it come to humidity- as in, if it's off a bit because you were too busy to mist the cage that morning, a carpet is more likely to get respiratory or shedding issues sooner than a ball python: at least in my experience. They are also less forgiving on temperature, handling, etc. I'm sure there are others who will tell you otherwise, this is just in my own experience. They are gorgeous, awesome snakes, though. I've just seen a heck of a lot of carpets with respiratory issues, impactions, and stuck sheds over the years at the clinic due to improper humidity, temperature, diet, substrate and even cage size. There are even several "morphs" of carpet python that are known for varying degrees of neurological- and other physiological- issues. They aren't actually alone in that; this is true for cornsnakes and ball pythons, too.

Keep in mind, I don't really believe in "beginner" snakes, either; I've seen too many people convinced to start with a cornsnake before getting their dream snake, and then the cornsnake gets ignored when their owners finally do get that dream snake. I think you can absolutely start with a more difficult animal than what is typical, as long as you know what you are getting into, and are willing to correct your mistakes immediately (and are observant enough to notice them in the first place).
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by MissLissa View Post
Carpets are just more sensitive in general than the typical "beginner" snake; by beginner snake I'm talking cornsnakes, milksnakes, kingsnakes, gophersnakes and even ball pythons. They are more fussy when it come to humidity- as in, if it's off a bit because you were too busy to mist the cage that morning, a carpet is more likely to get respiratory or shedding issues sooner than a ball python: at least in my experience. They are also less forgiving on temperature, handling, etc. I'm sure there are others who will tell you otherwise, this is just in my own experience. They are gorgeous, awesome snakes, though. I've just seen a heck of a lot of carpets with respiratory issues, impactions, and stuck sheds over the years at the clinic due to improper humidity, temperature, diet, substrate and even cage size. There are even several "morphs" of carpet python that are known for varying degrees of neurological- and other physiological- issues. They aren't actually alone in that; this is true for cornsnakes and ball pythons, too.

Keep in mind, I don't really believe in "beginner" snakes, either; I've seen too many people convinced to start with a cornsnake before getting their dream snake, and then the cornsnake gets ignored when their owners finally do get that dream snake. I think you can absolutely start with a more difficult animal than what is typical, as long as you know what you are getting into, and are willing to correct your mistakes immediately (and are observant enough to notice them in the first place).
Brilliant post. Totally crushed my thoughts on getting a green tree python, but I think it's for the best given what you've said.

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