Maintenance

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When it comes to the captive care of these often gentle giants there are a great many myths, rumours and perceptions.

First and foremost it is important to remember that if the wellbeing of the animal is your main consideration with your personal safety a close second runner your method does not have to be orthodox.

Because of the many different ways to keep snakes both in terms of equipment available and also in terms of how different cultures go about the same procedures, I am unable to tell you which is the best way. That is something you need to establish with your animals. What I can do is present the basic information to you and allow you to formulate your own plan of action from there.

Certainly this brings up an important point to note. I would highly recommend that before aquiring your retic you take some time to set out an action plan. This plan should contain information on housing as the animal matures, dietary requirements and sources aswell as back up handler details. You need to ensure that your retic does not end up in a sanctuary because you failed to plan for some aspect of care.

The first thing that any prospective owner should consider is the amount of space required to adequately house a potentially 25+ foot long snake.
Freedom Breeder Rack systems, contico type boxes and custom-built vivariums are all suitable for younger animals. However, cages must be escape proof, easy to disinfect, free of sharp edges, ventilated and able to hold heat, ensuring proper temperatures. Your choice for housing reduces significantly as your snakes grow due to a lack of manufacturers willing to make such large enclosures. When the snake reaches a large size it is often easier and cheaper to make your own enclosures for your snakes. Avoid leaving unfinished wood and porous surfaces when designing custom cages, these surfaces are difficult to disinfect and often don't last as long as a finished surface. When sealing edges of your custom vivarium use aquarium sealant only as the other types can contain fungicides that are dangerous to your snake's health. When varnishing use a poly-urethane based varnish, such as "yacht varnish”, as this is also safe to use with snakes. After sealing and varnishing your snakes new home leave to "air" for a week or so with the heat switched on in order to remove fumes and let it all settle properly.
Enclosure sizes is a topic that can vary greatly depending on who you ask. Some say enclosure length should allow the animal to stretch out half its length and the width should be a third to half of the animals length. Others (including the author) work to the theory that as long as the retic can stretch out completely around all the sides of the vivarium then it is acceptable. The first method is often based on the sizes other species require.
There are some additional guides that can be used, for example when the snake reaches roughly 12 feet it will start to fill out in girth. From this point onwards an enclosure should measure no less than 3 feet (approx 1 meter) in depth, to enable the snake to coil up in the stereotypical manner. What is clear, no matter which method of minimum sizes you decide to use, is the concern to be taken when aiming for a large enclosure. Retics can often be tame and tractable in smaller more confined spaces than they are in large spaces, this is territorial behavior. If the snake feels its enclosure is it’s territory then it will defend it by biting, head butting and musking. Yet if it perceives the enclosure as a hide box then this behavior rarely surfaces. Encouraging large retics to show this behavior is incredibly dangerous for anyone that has to interact with the animal at all. While I understand the desire to provide a large space for your pet which will look out of place in a smaller enclosure I simply can not tell you how important it is to fight this urge, for your own safety.

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