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Green Tree Python Care Sheet

Green Tree Pythons are one of the quickest rising stars of the hobbyist who loves collecting exotic pets. It should come as no surprise that the Green Tree Python likes to spend a lot of time in the trees. However, these snakes aren’t always green as the name suggest, because they’re a very colorful breed. They actually can come in a very broad variety of colors and different breeders will try to breed different colors to make their collection unique. You’ll find different colors in both the wild and in captivity, so depending on which color you like, it’s easy to find something that interest you.


However, there is only one recessive morph for the Green Tree Python, and that’s the albino. When juvenile Green Tree pythons are born, they are commonly a bright yellow color or some have been reported to be born as red or black. In rare cases, some of them have even been a dark brown color. However, as they mature to an older age, their color will adapt and change into a brighter green color. The majority of adult Green Tree Pythons are bright green but some of the adults do keep their color they were born with.


It’s not uncommon to find adult Green Tree pythons with bright-yellow or even to see blue green tree pythons. It’s been said that every single green tree python has their own unique color and their own unique look to them, to make it easy to tell them apart when you’re breeding them or collecting. One of the most exciting things about owning this particular brand of snake is watching the colors change over time and taking pictures as a progress meter.


When they were first discovered, green tree pythons didn’t get along with captivity well as it was becoming difficult to breed them. Now however, it’s becoming more common to find them in homes because breeding them has gotten easier and more successful. When you’re looking for a breeder or going to a store to buy a green tree python (we highly recommend going to a breeder), ask about the origin of the snake you’re buying. The majority of green tree pythons will come from Indonesia but there are some state side bred pythons.


You need to be careful when you buy green tree pythons that come from Indonesia, because they might be infected. They might be healthy at first or appear healthy on the outside, but over time, parasites will grow inside of them and could eventually end up killing the snake. It’s best to find a breeder state side because a million things can happen when a pet is being shipped half way across the world and over an ocean. A healthy hatchling will be anywhere from about 8 inches to 10 inches long. However the adult green tree pythons can catch tremendous growth spurts and will measure anywhere from 4 to 6 feet in length. Females will be on the upper end of this scale, being slightly larger than their male counterparts.


Also, you’ll notice that males will tend to be a bit more slender than the females to help tell them apart. If you take great care of a green tree python, it can live up to the teens usually, but some people have reported having success with green tree pythons living up to 20 or more years when in captivity.




There are a few different housing and shelter options for the green tree python but the best option many owners have agreed upon is the cage. Not only does the cage allow you to see your pet better, but it’s great for air flow as well. Arboreal snakes are generally kept in either a cage environment or glass enclosures that have a front opening on them. Which one you pick and like will really depend on your personal preference. However, depending on the type of enclosure you pick, you may need to do some modification to help with the humidity level.


Most owners have said that the juvenile green tree python is a bit shy and generally hides from everything around it, so it’ll be best to start them in a very small enclosure. However, the only downfall with this is, you’ll have to eventually upgrade their enclosure and buy them a bigger one. You will be able to get away with a 1 foot by 1 foot enclosure for a baby green tree python. Just make sure that the enclosure is at least 1 foot tall. However, when they become adults, you’ll need to upgrade their enclosures as they’ll need more room.


For an adult green tree python, you’re going to need a minimum of 2 feet by 2 feet, but it’s highly recommended that you at least get a 3 feet by 3 feet enclosure. It should be 2 feet tall. While the enclosure should be moderately tall, most new snake owners think that a green tree python needs a large enclosure because of where they like to spend the majority of their time. It’s a large misconception for novice owners that they need a very large container, but they don’t.


It doesn’t really matter the overall height of the cage because the snake will make adequate due whether it’s a 2 foot tall enclosure or a 10 foot tall enclosure. What they like to do is choose the highest point in the enclosure as long as there’s some kind of sturdy perch there and rest on it. The water source will generally be in a bowl and located on the enclosure floor. One of the major problems with poor housing structure though is that if you place a green tree python too high in an overly large container, they may not come down to drink.


Some believe this is because the animal is lazy and some people believe that they can’t seem to find a water source when they’re in captivity if the water isn’t in close proximity. You’ll know when a green tree python is active and awake because they’ll be zipping through whatever trees or shrubbery you have provided them. They like to move around a lot and are a generally very active species. While they like to travel horizontally, you need to make sure that they can reach the ground.


The best general rule for a green tree python to go by is to make sure that they can reach the ground from the highest perch in the enclosure. This makes sure that they will get an adequate amount of water and won’t give up on trying to get a drink if it’s too far out of reach. It’s not uncommon to watch a green tree python zip from branch to branch slowly climbing their way to the top of the enclosure on the highest branch.


You have to make sure that whatever enclosure you go with has sturdy branches. When the snake likes to rest, it doesn’t exactly have the best ability in telling if a branch is sturdy or not. When they’re in the wild, they’re usually in relatively large trees, so stability isn’t much of an issue. It’s your job to make sure that whatever is located in the enclosure is sturdy enough for the snake to be on without falling. These particular snakes don’t weight a lot so it’s relatively easy to support their weight.


When a green tree python is resting, you’ll notice that they like to coil themselves around a perch and they’ll lay their head smack dab in the middle of the coil. Snakes generally aren’t as active in the day time but some species like to roam around in the day time. The green tree python is more of a night time explorer and will be exploring a lot more at night than it will in the day time.


It’s not required to have a full on jungle in your enclosure but for cosmetic reasoning, some people like to make it look as realistic as possible, just so that they have something nice to look at. To achieve this, you can consider the possibility of adding some fake plants into the enclosure as well. The only thing you have to do is make sure that any kind of surface the snake can climb is sturdy or else you might injure the snake. Fake plants won’t only make the place look nicer but it’ll also add some help to control the humidity in the enclosure.




The housing for a green tree python is relatively straight forward and they can easily be stored in a 24 by 24 inch enclosure. However for the adults, something a bit larger will be needed to suffice them. For adults, you may need to go with a 36 inch by 24 inch enclosure. The enclosure should be 2 feet tall to provide them with plenty of roaming room and to add perches. You’ll also want an enclosure that allows you to put heat panels in the roof. There are a lot of different heating panels out there, so you’ll just have to search for the one that suites your needs.


You’ll find that the majority of the time, a green tree python will stay perched all day and all night. You’ll need branches and textures inside of the enclosure that are at least the diameter of the snake’s body so that it can relax on. You’ll want to scatter them throughout the enclosure, such as placing one right below the heating panel (6 inches below), to give the snake a basking spot.


If you have baby green tree pythons, then it’s best to keep them in plastic or Rubbermaid tubs. Some people have been known to keep them in shoeboxes as well. The most common options for decorations inside the housing are plants and vines. Some people like to use what’s called Pothos plants because they’re very hardy and they aren’t toxic. Not only that, but they aren’t fragile to the light and won’t be harmed by it as well.




During the day time, a green tree python is going to require that the temperature be moderately high because they like to bask a lot. Also, it’s required for survival and even the nighttime temperature needs to be moderately warm. There should be a heating gradient between the general vicinity of the enclosure and the basking area. You’ll want the enclosure to be in the 80s during the day and with the basking area getting up to the very low 90 degrees.


In the nighttime, your temperature may drop to 75 degrees but keep an eye on your snake if the temperature drops below that. However for babies, it’s recommended that you keep the temperature at 80 degrees even at night. There are numerous different methods out there for heating the snakes but they’re arboreal snakes, meaning that they’re likely to spend their time in trees or above the ground, rather than on it.


A green tree python isn’t very likely to benefit from placing heating pads under the tank because they never touch the ground (rarely). What you can do instead is place what are called ceramic heat emitters inside the tank. Some other cost effective options are infrared heating bulbs and basking bulbs as well. There’s really nothing better than the other, it’ll depend on your personal preference on what you want and what kind of look you want for your enclosure.


If you go with something such as a radiant heat panel, you should only use it with a high tech and trustworthy thermostat. You need to make sure you religiously monitor the temperature in the enclosure to ensure that the heaters are working as intended.




The substrate used in a green tree python cage is relatively straight forward and it should be something that promotes a healthy level of humidity. However, you also want to make sure that it’s resistant to mold and fungus as well. One of the more popular choices is what’s known as reptile bark, but you can find a good cheap source of bark at about any pet store. Ask for substrate for snakes in the bark or mulch department for recommendations.


If you can get a hold of cypress bark, then you’ll be in business as its high quality but costs a little more on the wallet. It’s highly recommended to go with cypress if it’s available to you in your area or if you can order it online. The majority of the time, you’ll find your snake coiled among horizontal branches, as it would be nearly impossible for them to coil themselves along vertical branches and stick there. This is why the substrate doesn’t matter as much but you should add some sticks and other types of perches into the enclosure on top of the substrate.




This is where the majority of new owners get confused, because while they do like to drink the water that form on their coils, they still need to have some water readily available for when they become thirsty. A nice and sturdy water dish should be on the ground within reaching distance of the highest perch and the snake’s length. You’ll have to do some measurement to figure that one out.


Even if they don’t use the water from the bowl, it will aid in helping with the humidity and if they aren’t drinking directly from the bowl, then make sure to mist the snake to ensure that they’re getting water droplets on the coil. The problem with these types of animals is that they always have access to a steady supply of water via droplets in the rainforest. In captivity, they rely on these water droplets because that’s how they’re programmed and what they’re used to.


A watering schedule will vary highly based on the type of enclosure that you have provided the snake. Also, the humidity will come into play because that will determine just how many water drops are formed inside the enclosure as well. To play it safe at first, monitor your green tree python’s hydration and make sure you’re giving it access to water at least twice a day, just to be safe.


Just like the rainforest, you need to make sure that every area of the enclosure has some mist water droplets on them. If you want to know whether or not the humidity is at an adequate level, then all you have to do is monitor the shedding process. If the shedding is smooth and there’s not issues or left behind skin, then the humidity is probably just fine and you’re misting just fine as well.


As far as feeding, the green tree python will feed on a wide variety of different pray ranging from birds to small rodents. It’ll be much easier for you to feed them small rodents which are easily available at pet stores. However, in captivity, the most common option for a green tree python feeding is the common feeder mice. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to handle, so that’s the best most common option and best option for new owners.


A baby green tree python however is recommended to be fed pink mouse which are small rodent like mouse creatures solely used for feeding small exotic animals. The adults however have no problem taking on a rat or an adult mouse (but you should be careful when handling these as they can bite and do carry diseases if you’re not careful).


The feeding schedule should vary from snake to snake but only by a few days. You should offer something of appropriate size for your snake, once every week or 10 days.




Different owners have reported different defecation rates in their green tree pythons because this rate depends on a few different factors. This will depend on the age of the python, the gender of the snake and other factors such as the overall health as well. The females however will defecate far less than the males will and young animals will defecate more than the mature pythons.


You might notice that your adult will start tail hanging prior to when they start defecating. This usually isn’t a problem and just the beginning of the process. It’s a common rule that if you want to be safe, you shouldn’t feed your snake until you know they defecated from the last one. If you’re not careful though, this can result in your python being severely underfed so you need to monitor your feeding habits accordingly and make sure they’re getting the proper amount of feed.


It might take you some time to learn their defecation cycle, but you’ll want to wait until they do so until you feed them their next meal. It’s also important to note when they defecate because they will do this right before shedding as well. If you notice your green tree python is just sitting there for days on end and hasn’t had any kind of movement or excrete, then you might need to handle the snake. This might help the process move a long slightly quicker and even misting it more on occasion has been known to help.


Growing juveniles will experience shedding the most, which can be anywhere from every 6 to every 8 weeks. You’ll have to pay close attention to when they shed and monitor their cycle to ensure they’re growing healthy. However, during the adult shedding cycle, it could take several months for the shed to occur and during this time, you want to make sure that the humidity is perfect. As with most common exotic pets, you’ll notice your python exhibiting this milky like appearance right before shedding.


If your snake has trouble shedding, then you might need to mist more or gently apply water to the skin to help aid the process along quicker. Irregular shedding isn’t really a huge cause for alarm and it can happen sometimes but the majority of healthy snakes shed at a regular cycle without any kind of issues what so ever. If you’re noticing issues during this process, it could be the feeding pattern, the food you’re giving it or the snake could be stressed. It’s not uncommon for stressed snakes to shed irregularly.


Handling your green tree python regularly isn’t exactly recommended because they’re better left alone as they like to be left alone in general. They don’t like to be handled regularly so if you need to handle it to assist the shedding process, do it gently and make sure you wash your hands.

Jackson Chameleon Care Sheet

The Jackson Chameleon or otherwise known as the Chamaeleo Jacksonii can be classified as a medium species of chameleon. The Jackson Chameleon is originally thought to be from three locations: East Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. However, recent studies and sightings have shown that the Jackson Chameleon has also found a home in the Hawaiian Islands as well. There are other areas relative to the area but there are no confirmed reports or not enough evidence to suggest they’re living there as well.


You can often find the Jackson Chameleon in mountain slopes that have a humid environment or where ever there’s significant vegetation. They prefer to live in areas with plenty of rainfall and plenty of vegetation. You can easily identify a Jackson by looking at the horns on top of their head. The Jackson Chameleon’s are classified a mid-size species because of their size and their distinct differences between males and females. The males have three horns on top of their heads.


However, there are three different types of species of the Jackson Chameleon. You have the standard Jackson Chameleon which also known as the Chameleo Jacksonii, the Yellow Crested Jackson Chameleon which comes from Mt. Kenya (otherwise known as the Chamaleo Jacksonii Xantholophus) and finally, you have the Dwarf Jackson Chameleon from Mt. Meru. The Dwarf Jackson is also known as the Jacksonii Merumontanus.


The Chamaeleo Jacksonii Jacksonii species or more commonly known as the standard Jackson Chameleon is by far the rarest species in the US of the Jackson family. They can grow to a total length of approximate 10 inches and are thought to originate from Kenya. You can tell the females and males apart by noticing and examining how many horns they have on top of their heads. The females should be noticeable with three horns while the males only have a single horn on their head.


In the United States, the most common species to have and find in people’s homes is the Yellow-Crested subspecies. While originally introduced from Kenya, it didn’t take long for this species to make its way over to the US and become a popular exotic pet. If they’re kept appropriately and well fed, they can grow up to a total of a whopping 2 feet in length. The male Yellow-Crested Jackson Chameleons will have three horns on their head but their females will have no horns. However, it’s not uncommon to find a female with a single small horn on the nose.


The last species of Jackson Chameleons or otherwise known as the Mt. Meru Dwarf Jackson Chameleon is easy to find and available in the United States but not nearly as common as the Yellow-Crested species. Being the smallest of the Jackson Chameleon’s, they will only reach an approximate length of 8 inches long. You can tell the male and females apart by examining the horns like the other species. The males are noted to have three very long horns that are very narrow in diameter. The majority of the females will have a single narrow horn on the tip of the nose. You’ll also notice that both the males and females have very bright yellow crests on them.


While they’re growing, it’s not uncommon for them to exhibit a dark green pattern on their skin as they get older. The species is known to live for up to 7 years but it’s not uncommon under proper care for them to live up to 10 or more years. The females even under perfect care are not expected to live as long as the males.


One of the most misconceived things about the Jackson Chameleon is that they’re difficult to handle and amateurs should seek the help of professional handlers. Not only that, but a lot of people believe that they’re difficult to keep in captivity, which they’re not. However, it’s been shown that Jackson Chameleons are actually very calm and easy to manage as long as they’re under proper care. It’s recommended that you only buy from a reputable breeder and someone who knows what they’re doing. When Jackson Chameleons were first discovered, they were in fact hard to keep in captivity because of the climate and environment they were used to. Now though, there are plenty of reputable breeders out there with a vast amount of experience with the species and they know how to keep them in captivity.




A Jackson chameleon will do relatively well in a captive environment if they’re provided with the proper amount of care and adequate shelter. However, while they make great beginner’s pets, they’re a bit more difficult to keep and maintain over the panther pets which are slightly easier.


For a Jackson chameleon, it’s best to have a screen sided enclosure that will allow more airflow into the enclosure. Sure, you can have a glass enclosure but the problem with this is that you’re increasing the risk of a respiratory infection or issues if you don’t have a proper adequate airflow system in place. It’s difficult to find a proper glass enclosure that allows stagnant air to come through and to house appropriate sized chameleons. If you’re looking for a recommendation on size, then you should know that bigger is better.


The chameleon will grow over time, so it’s important to make sure that you start out with a larger enclosure than you need as you more than likely won’t have to go back later on when the chameleon has grown and buy a new enclosure. You shouldn’t need anything larger than an 18 inch by 18 inch enclosure. While they can tolerate slightly smaller enclosures, it’s not really recommended that you get one. However, if you really want to start out with a smaller enclosure and buy a larger one later for adults, then juvenile Jackson chameleons can be kept in a 16 inch by 16 inch enclosure.


They can be kept in these enclosures until they’re approximately 12 months old and then they’ll need to be moved into the larger enclosure that I recommended buying in the first place. One of the most important rules of sheltering your chameleons is that they need to be kept separated when they become adults if you own more than one. The reason for this being, they will fight each other if you place them together once they’re adults. Chameleons in general are known to be highly territorial and will fight for any reason.


You may furnish the inside of the enclosure with some small vines and foliage, but that’s not completely necessary or mandatory. This is purely optional for cosmetic reasons. Much like some species of snakes, you should leave some horizontal branches for the chameleon to rest and bask on as well. Some people have different recommendations for the substrate, but it’s better off not to have an kind of substrate at all, as the Jackson chameleons don’t need them.


Some people may like to use paper towels or paper at the bottom of their aquariums, but this isn’t necessary and will be a mess to clean up. It’s easier to clean up the bottom of the tank than it is clean it up with paper lining the bottom.




Like a lot of different exotic pets, the Jackson chameleon will require two different forms of light. The first type of light they’ll need is a light that’s warm that allows them to bask. The second type of light they’ll need is a light that provides their skin calcium, also known as UVB light waves. Without these waves, the skin may not age well and your chameleon’s health will suffer greatly over time. One of the most common novice mistakes that some owners make is trying to put the chameleon directly into sunlight.


While this is a form of natural light, this is the worst thing you can do to your chameleon if you have it kept in a glass enclosure. Sunlight will heat the enclosure to dangerous levels and possibly kill your pet. For basking, you should have a platform, a rock or some kind of surface setup that your chameleon can bask in. A heat lamp for basking should be placed about 8 inches above that basking surface.


A temperature gradient must exist inside the enclosure to ensure survival and longevity of your pet, because they like to be warm during the day and prefer it to be slightly cooler at night. The perfect and ideal basking temperature for the Jackson chameleon will be a nice and warm 85 degrees. However the cool gradient side of the enclosure should be 75 degrees in order to let the pet cool down. The winter weather is a concern for some people but it shouldn’t be, because they can handle extreme cold conditions.


Chameleons are able to bask in the morning immediately after a 40 degree night, and it’s important to make sure that they do have a place to bask in.




In the wild, a Jackson chameleon, as most chameleons don’t commonly run into standing water sources such as a water bowl. For this reason, it’s important that you utilize a technique that’s known as misting. In the rainforest or the amazon, most creatures live off of droplets of rain, since there’s plenty of rain during almost every season in the rainforest. The chameleon will survive by licking droplets of water off of leaves and the side of the enclosure.


All you have to do is take a water bottle, fill it up with moderately warm and clean water and spray the enclosure. Make sure you lightly douse the chameleon as well to keep the humidity levels adequate. Spray any branches or plants that you have placed inside the enclosure and that will be adequate enough for water. Don’t utilize anything such as a waterfall when you’re trying to get your chameleon to drink because they see moving water as a place to leave excrete.


Excrete can carry bacteria and all kinds of infections since parasites are prone to growing in them. If you do notice some excrete near any type of water supply, then it’s best to remove it immediately so that you greatly reduce the risk of bacteria or infection.


As far as food goes, the Jackson chameleon babies need to be fed approximately twice a day while the adults only need to be fed once every other day. They like to eat small things such as crickets, mealworms and wax worms. However, wax worms are highly discouraged because of how fatty they are. They’re more like a delicious snack to a pet rather than a main meal course.


It’s recommended that you use crickets instead for the nutrients they provide and how easy they are to come across. It’s highly inexpensive and easy to find bulk crickets for feeding. Some people get into gut loading with vitamins, but you don’t have to feed your crickets vitamins as a necessity, they come with quite a few vitamins already.




One thing you need to remember about the Jackson chameleons is that they’re mostly display animals. This means that they’re not usually handled a lot and aren’t used to that much attention. Different owners have different experiences handling their chameleons based on their own experiences but in general, most chameleons don’t really like to be handled a lot. A bearded dragon on the other hand can be handled as often as you like, because they’re very friendly and docile creatures (despite having the word dragon in their name).


If you hold them for short periods of time and not too often, the Jackson chameleon can be a very friendly pet. However, if you’re constantly holding the pet and bombarding it with attention, then you’re going to have a rough time getting it to eat, because it could become depressed. Excess handling will cause stress to your animal because it’s not something they’re used to.


It’s up to you to find out what your animal can tolerate and what they can handle but as they’re growing, try not to handle it more than once a week. Once it’s an adult and is used to you, you may be able to get away with handling it for a few times a week, but even then you might be pushing it. Know your limits and keep an eye on the feeding habit to see if there’s any decrease after handling.



Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet

The Veiled Chameleon or also known as the Chamaeleo Calyptratus (or as some people even call it, the Yemen Chameleon) is commonly from Saudi Arabia. It’s a very large species of Chameleon and is typically found in Middle Eastern parts including Yemen, as the name implies. However, recent reports have suggested that the Veiled Chameleon has also made its way state side into the United States and found a home on the island of Maui, Hawaii. You won’t find this pet wondering the city streets or out and about in a place without mountains though.


The Veiled Chameleon prefers to live in a place with coastal mountains and high slopes. Due to the nature of the Chameleon and how they survive, they prefer to live in an area that experienced a lot of rainfall. Year round water and vegetation is a must to ensure a healthy life and that they live as long as possible, which is why they prefer the coast and rainfall areas. One of the easiest ways of identifying a Veiled Chameleon is to examine the top of the head, where you can notice a helmet type texture.


Males will grow up to be a total of 2 feet in length and females will be slightly shorter than that, topping out at only 18 inches. However, while this isn’t as long as some exotic pets, it’s one of the largest chameleon species on the planet. Even more impressive that they can reach this kind of length in captivity, because most captivity exotic pets are small and their height is slowed down by being in captivity. There’s not one specific color that can be attributed to identifying a veiled chameleon, because the adults seem to exhibit a whole rainbow palette of colors. You might find some veiled chameleons that have differing shades of green, orange, blue, yellow, brown, black or other colors as well.


The amount of spots, stripes, blotches and spotted patterns on a veiled chameleon will differ from pet to pet as well. They all seem to have their own unique style and look to them. One of the most interesting and unique things about the veiled chameleons is that they can be sexed the day they hatch. Most animals need to wait until their mid juvenile or entering adulthood but not the veiled chameleon. When the males are hatched, you’ll notice that they have a small nub on the back of them which is called a tarsal spur. Females will all lack a tarsal spur.


As far as color differentiation, the males of the species tend to show off far more colors and grow into more colors than the females do. The average life expectancy for the males can be anywhere from 6 to 8 years depending on the type of care provided. Females won’t show off as many colors nor will they live as long either. They will only live an average of 4 to 6 years because of how their reproduction works. Even if you don’t actively breed them, they’re always producing infertile egg clusters.


This will take a lot out of the females and it drains their energy fast. After a while, constantly producing infertile eggs while not breeding will take its tool and progress the age of the pet faster than the males. It’s relatively easy to handle a veiled chameleon in captivity and some experts have suggested that they’re a difficult pet for any beginner. They’re not very demanding and actually very basic when it comes to their needs in captivity. If a veiled chameleon is purchased from a reputable breeder who knows what they’re doing, they’re very calm and easy to work with.


It used to be difficult to find veiled chameleons that weren’t caught out in the wild and they kept dying rather quickly in captivity. However now days, as breeders have more success, it’s becoming increasingly easier to find a private breeder in the states.




If you provide a chameleon with consistent care and adequate cage maintenance, then you should have absolutely no problem keeping a veiled chameleon in a captive environment. Sure, they may not be native to being captive if they weren’t bred, but they’re generally very docile and easy animals to handle. The very first step you’ll want to take to ensure the longevity and happiness of your chameleon is the enclosure that it will be living in. It’s like picking out your own home for your own peace of mind and quality of life.


While this is purely just a recommendation, the best type of enclosure for a veiled chameleon has been shown to be a screen sided enclosure. This is because the screen allows increased airflow to come into the enclosure and there are numerous reasons as to why this helps a chameleon grow healthier. While you can use a glass tank, it’s more difficult to find an appropriate glass tank for a veiled chameleon because of their setup. Glass tanks weren’t really bet for these kinds of pets and it’s hard to create a natural air flow inside of the enclosure without doing any kind of custom modification such as drilling.


Also, it’s been shown by recent studies that poor airflow or glass enclosures for chameleons can actually create respiratory issues such as an upper respiratory infection. These are definitely not cheap to fix and you could actually lose your chameleon as a result of it, so it’s best to play it safe with a screen sided enclosure. While you can get away with a smaller enclosure, the generally rule for chameleons is that bigger is in fact better.


To measure the ideal size for chameleon, you want to house an adult male in a screen enclosure that would be around 2 feet by 2 feet and 4 feet tall. They can tolerate smaller enclosures but the word tolerate should never be used and you shouldn’t sacrifice space because the quality of life of your pet will greatly suffer if you do. If you have a female veiled chameleon, you’re more than likely going to want to go with something slightly smaller but larger such as an 18 inch by 18 inch enclosure.


Storing juveniles and babies is a bit easier because they don’t require a high height. However, it’s best to start off with a large enclosure because after about 8 months of growth, they’ll need to be moved into enclosures that will suite their growth and size better. Some say that it’s better to start off small but this is an unnecessary cost in my opinion. Also, if you’re raising multiple veiled chameleons at once, it’s far better off to keep them separated because they will fight each other until they reach sexual maturity.




The actual housing of the structure can be different varying to your personal tastes and how much you want to spend on the enclosure. Some people want a basic enclosure with basic bare bottom substrate tastes and some people want to go extravagant. For ideal conditions though, we want to create textures and areas in the enclosure for the chameleon to hide in. For this reason, you can pick up some cheap decoration vines or foliage so that the chameleons have something to walk around on or hide under. You’ll find that the veiled chameleon likes to hide a lot.


Also, you might want to consider some stones or horizontally laid perches so that your chameleons have a place to bask on. You want to make sure to avoid the risk of a fire that your plants are plastic and aren’t made from any kind of silk material. It’s best to check to make sure that each plant is nontoxic and plastic anti-flame plants seem to work the best. It’s not common for plants to catch flame as the heater usually isn’t right next to the plants, but I’m sure it has happened before, which is why it’s essential to be careful when setting up your enclosure.


Some of the most commonly used plants are the fichus, the schefflera, the hibiscus and the pothos. These are examples of live plants that may be used inside of the enclosure because they provide two direct benefits. First, they allow the chameleon to have a place to hide and they also help with the moisture inside of the enclosure.


A lot of people like to argue over whether the veiled chameleon should have any kind of substrate or not and the general consensus across most seasoned owners seems to be a resounding no. The risk of impaction is too high among most chameleon species and it’s better off just not to have any at all. The only downside to that is, you have to regularly clean the bottom of the tank which is relatively easy with some soap water and a rag.




A veiled chameleon will require approximately two forms of light. They’ll need a heating light for the first part of the day so that they can bask and regulate their body temperature. You can also use heating rocks, heating tape, emitters, etc. to help. The next thing they’ll need is a highly specialized fluorescent bulb that emits UVB light waves. The reasoning for this is because out in the wild, the natural sunlight that they’re used to in the wild is what usually provides calcium for their skin that also helps with metabolism.


However, when in captivity, they’re usually surrounded by glass, so that’s why a special UVB light is required to provide them the appropriate level of calcium. If they don’t get this, they’ll end up with a disease known as Metabolic Bone Disease. A lot of people like the appeal to bulbs that provide both but there have been studies that show Veiled Chameleons are able to actually regulate their body temperature and their UVB exposure independent from each other.


Placement for both of these lights should be ideally placed directly on top of the enclosure. When you’re setting up the positions for these lights, you want to make sure that both lights are clear of any perches by at least 6 inches, to reduce the risk of burning a perch or plant in the enclosure. Because veiled chameleons have the ability to regulate their own temperature, it’s highly important to provide them a temperature gradient in their enclosure, which means one area must be a perfect basking warm and one area must be cool enough to rest in.


The best and ideal temperature gradient will range from 72 to 80 degrees. The reason for having a basking bulb directly above a basking spot is because that particular spot needs to be relatively warm. Placing the basking bulb here should raise the temperature to 90 degrees, which is an ideal temperature for veiled chameleon basking. This is the best ideal arrangement for achieving the best gradient and providing the highest quality of life within your enclosure for your chameleon.


The most important thing that you want to watch for is to make sure that the lower part of the enclosure is getting cooler temperatures because that heating gradient is absolutely essential. However, when it comes to night time, you’ll be pleased to know that chameleons generally don’t require a heating lamp because they adapt to the lower temperatures relatively well. As long as the temperature even in the winter stays above the high 40s, you won’t have much of an issue and no type of heat is needed.


While the temperature can be adapted to, you need to make sure that they have a place to bask at in the morning. Also, something important to remember if you require any kind of heating source at night to help keep your chameleon warm is that you want a heating source that doesn’t emit light. This is absolutely essential because they need a perfect lighting cycle or else they can become confused and stressed by the amount of light they’re constantly getting.




Veiled chameleons are arboreal, which means that they generally aren’t going to encounter a lot of standing water such as a dish. This might create a problem for some chameleons because they won’t recognize the water dish as a form of hydration. However, a lot of owners have said that their pets eventually figure it out before dehydrating to death but that’s a risky venture to take.


The way to combat this and what you can do is a process called misting. The problem is, in the wild, they’re not used to any kind of water sources except for the water that falls off of leaves when it rains. They live in rainforest type environments and always find all of their water when it rains, because the water will drop down onto the leaves and drop to the ground. Chameleons like the veiled chameleon will lick the leaves.


To mist your enclosure, all you have to do is simply spray your chameleon and the sides of the enclosure twice a day so that it can lick the sides of the enclosure to get its water supply. This will be much easier as well if you have leaves or perches in your enclosure, because you can mist the leaves and it’ll be just like its back in its habitat environment. Some people have an advanced drip system in place that can be rather expensive or inexpensive system to set up depending on your experience in engineering, but it’s easier just to mist the enclosure.


You might be thinking, why not just add a waterfall? The reason being is a veiled chameleon sees moving water as a source to defecate in. We see toilets as the main source of an area to leave our excrete in; well that’s what chameleons see running water as. If you try to use a waterfall as a means of hydration, it won’t drink from it; it’ll only create constant messes.


You definitely don’t want your chameleon drinking from an excrete filled waterfall because it’ll be filled with bacteria and as a result, it could grow an infection inside of it, or even worse, a parasite. Parasites are extremely hard to get rid of and can be extremely costly. A good amount of the time, they’re never fully vanquished and end up doing significant harm to the pet.


Veiled chameleons like to eat crickets generally. The great thing about crickets is, they’re very cheap to buy and they’re incredibly easy to find in bulk. They’re the most common item to feed house hold exotic pets because they’re almost universally accepted by most pets. When your pet is growing or if they’re juveniles/babies, then they’ll need to be fed once a day. Some owners report that feeding them twice a day has helped the growing process but be careful not to overfeed them.


However, the ideal process is to only feed them once a day. Once they grow into adulthood, you only have to feed them once every other day. Keep an eye on the eating habits of your chameleon and make sure they’re eating all the food you feed them. If they’re not, then cut back on the amount of food they’re eating, because that food will just sit there and rot if they don’t eat it. Again, parasites and bacteria can form on uneaten food.




While a veiled chameleon is growing, you’ll notice that they’re starting to lose their skin. Don’t be alarmed, because this is a completely normal process and it’ll happen at very frequent intervals. The intervals at which they shed their skin will increase over time as the chameleon ages. However, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up the old skin because a chameleon (as most animals that shed) will actually eat their own skin.


The reasoning behind this is, in the wild, leaving any trace of your skin behind is a dead giveaway to predators that you were just there. So like a Special Operations soldier, the chameleon has to leave no traces behind and will eat its own skin as its shedding. As a juvenile, you can expect a veiled chameleon to shed every 4 weeks, but sometimes they can shed every 3 weeks. This rate will vary depending upon how quickly or slowly they’re growing.


As an adult, different owners have reported different rates of shedding but the entire process may only take just a few hours from beginning to finish. The one thing you’ll notice about your chameleon before it sheds is that it may start to look a little bit milky as the skin particles on top begin to die off. Also, it’s not uncommon for a chameleon as many other animals that shed to become disinterested in whatever food you leave them. Don’t be alarmed if they don’t eat when you put food into the enclosure, because they might just be shedding, if paired up with a milky looking texture.


As an adult however, it’s not uncommon for the shedding process to take days in some cases because of the length of the body and some areas of the chameleon are difficult to get off. You’ll notice the chameleon scratching away at their own skin or trying to use corners of the enclosure or branches inside the enclosure to help scratch the skin off. Usually, they can remove the skin all on their own, but in rare cases, they might need help and need a mist. You don’t normally have to do it, but mist your chameleon right before the shedding process starts to help ensure a smooth transition.




Handing veiled chameleons is relatively easy because they take being handled very easily. They’re very gentle and won’t try to scratch the hell out of you if that’s what you’re worried about. However, they’re not very good in social situations and are very prone to stress so if you frequently handle a chameleon, he may become stressed or scared. When a veiled chameleon is stressed out, they won’t eat and they’ll spend all night hiding under whatever area is available.


Make sure that you are washing both of your hands and use sanitizer before and after handling a veiled chameleon. This is a good idea for handling any kind of animal because there are sensitive oils on your hands when they’re not washed, and not only that, but your hands have been a thousand other places during the day. Your hands are carrying a load of bacteria that can be transferred right over to the pet if you’re not careful.




Veiled chameleons are what are called oviparous breeders meaning that they carry eggs instead of getting pregnant. What happens is, a female will lay eggs in batches (or clutches) after the mating ritual is complete and then it can take a predetermined time from laying to hatching. The amount of eggs in each cluster will highly depend on a wide variety of different factors such as how much mating has been done, the general health of the female, the size of the body and other factors as well.


You can expect to see anywhere from 10 to 80 eggs in a single clutch. If you notice a female is creating eggs or you’re trying to actively force two veiled chameleons to mate, then you need to setup a nesting area. The female needs a nice and warm place to lay and nurture her eggs. If you want to go with the easiest and cheapest option, all you need is a small tub or tray with sand in it. All you have to do is place this little tub in the bottom of the enclosure and if she’s laying eggs, she’ll more than likely use it.


What you need to remember is that the sand needs to be relatively deep so at least 4 inches deep. The sand needs to be deep enough for a female to lay her eggs in, so keep that in mind when making your tray. You also need to make sure that a female is at an optimal mating age as well, because different species of animals have different adulthood ages at which successful mating can be achieved. For veiled chameleons, you need to make sure that the female is at least 1 year old or slightly younger (some people have seen results with this).


Also, the female needs to be relatively in good health and preferably not shedding or showing any signs of depression. Without being in a great state of health, the chances of successfully mating are diminished horribly. When picking a partner or a mate, you need to make sure that the male is about equal size to the female.


Don’t expect a male and female to automatically start mating though, because sometimes they’ll fight instead. Unfortunately, veiled chameleons are known to be highly aggressive when confronted by another chameleon and will be very territorial. If the female shows any signs of hesitation or aggression towards the male chameleon, it’s advised to break them up immediately. Sometimes, owners have reported signs of hissing or even clawing at potential mates which leads to a territorial fight.


Once the mating process is finished if she is receptive (this should be rather obvious), you should separate the two and allow her to lay her eggs. Unlike some of the quicker animals, a female veiled chameleon may lay eggs quickly or within the month, so it’s basically just a waiting game to see when the eggs are going to be laid. Make sure that your female is getting extra calcium to ensure that you have a better chance of successfully breeding during this time.


The ideal and best egg temperature to shoot for should be 85 degrees to keep them nice and warm. Healthy looking eyes will be bright white while unhealthy eggs that have a low chance of hatching will start to turn a bit yellowish. It can take anywhere from 4 to 9 months for the eggs to hatch. 

Red Eared Slider Care Sheet

The Red-Eared Slider or otherwise known as the Trachemys Scripta Elegans is a rather large sized turtle (some consider them medium sized). They’ve been known to reach a total carapace length of 7 to 9 inches for the males and the females can actually grow larger than the males being 10 to 12 inches. It’s not completely uncommon in some cases to have them grow 2 to 4 inches above the standard length (but this is very rare and only under certain conditions). There are four different subspecies with the Red-Eared slider being one of the four.


The other three species are the Yellow-Bellied turtle, the Cumberland turtle and Big Bend Sliders. All of these turtles make up the species we know as the slider specie of turtles. The body can be identified by the particularly oval shape and they always have a very classic basking turtle style to them. In hatchlings however, the body form will be more circular than it will oval. The dome will be mild and not too steep, the bottom will be rather flat compared to most turtle species and they have a very blunt head. The eye placement is particularly peripheral and you’ll notice that they have webbed feet with claws on them as well. Their tails are generally smaller than most species of turtle.


The shell has a unique texture and integrity which is made of the same kind of texture that your fingernails are made of. The shell is very bony and the internal structure is made of something called Keratin plates that are known as scutes. The upper shell is slightly to moderately domed (it’s been known to differ from each Red Eared slider slightly. One of the unique things about the Red Eared slider though, is that when they withdraw into their shell, they aren’t able to actually close their shell for full protection. Instead, the Red Eared slider relies heavily on deep water for protection against predators.


This is why they need to live near water because while on dry land, they have no form of defense against predators like a raccoon. The carapace of the Red Eared Slider is relatively smooth. However it has been known that in captivity, they have grown a bumpier carapace due to the protein that was being fed to them. They don’t get as much natural protein out in the wild, which may attribute to the smooth carapace texture. The hatchlings will start out with a bright green carapace and skin. The skin has a striped appearance and you’ll notice that the carapace scute pattern is very similar to what looks like a green fingerprint.


The name Red Eared slider comes partly from the appearance of the jelly bean-shaped patches that are located right behind the eyes. Oddly enough, it’s not actually the ears that give it the name but the patches close to the ears. The plastron of the Red Eared slider has many black spots or what’s better described as smudges on them. When Red Eared sliders begin to age, you’ll notice that the color of their carapace and skin become slightly darker with different coloration of the carapace. You’ll also notice that some odd patterns may begin to form or take shape on the carapace as well.


There’s a progress called Melanism that most turtle species tend to exhibit. What Melanism does is, turns the turtle darker and in some rare cases, you might notice that it turns the turtle completely black or abnormally dark. This isn’t common but it can happen when there’s excess dark pigments present as they age. It’s been noted that some juveniles have been able to obtain the same coloration throughout their entire lives but this isn’t expected as most become darker with age. You’ll find that the carapace of a Red Eared slider is very smooth and only has a mild dome in most. Soft shell turtles have a more bumpy and rugged shell because of the terrain they’re used to living in.


The Plastron of the Red Eared slider is actually moderately sized compared to most species of common house pet turtles. They have a more developed plastron than snapping turtles and musk turtles do, but they’re not quite as developed as box turtles. The plastron is also hinge-less which puts it as a huge disadvantage in the wild, because it can’t completely close it shell. However, it’s been noticed that in an environment where there’s plenty of iron or an iron heavy supplement diet has been known to darken the plastron and will give off a darker color as the turtle ages.


The head of the Red Eared slider is a very blunt head. The face is very blunt looking and the eyes are peripheral. The pupils tend to exhibit a bar that can either run diagonally or horizontally through the eyes which are light green most of the time. You’ll notice on the head that there should be a jelly bean like horizontally placed long red patch that is located right behind the eye. You’ll see plenty of green and yellow stripes behind the head and the neck, as this will vary from turtle to turtle. In most cases, you’ll see what looks like a horizontal stripe that will run up the lower part of the head and then it will fork into a Y shape. This Y shape fork will usually run down the lower jaw and will go up to their eye as well.


Not only do Red Eared sliders exhibit patterns like these most of the time, but the western painted turtles will often have them as well. You’ll notice that the lower jaw of the Red Eared slider is slightly more rounded than the following species: Cooters, Painteds and Maps3. Male Red Eared sliders are generally smaller and their domes won’t be as prominent as the female counterparts. The males can easily reach up to 9 inches as long as they’re well fed. Due to the requirements of breeding and mating, the males will be noted to have elongated front claws that will help aid them in their process during mating.


A Red Eared slider’s tail can also be a distinguishable difference between males and females. You’ll notice that the tails on females are much longer than the males but they won’t be as long as the map turtles tails. When a female fully extends her tail, the tail can go well past the edge of the carapace. While the shape of the head often remains blunt, females will tend to develop muscular and bulky looking heads as they age.


An interesting blend of characteristics can be found in some turtles where variations due occur. This happens where species have overlapping features and their living proximity ranges from one to another and inbreeding might be the suspect here. In some parts of the United States, you might see that some Red Eared sliders have red patches that aren’t as yellow but are narrower. These strange creatures can usually be found in the forests of lush area of Kentucky. There have been reports of rare hybrid Red Eared sliders that have been found along these areas as well.


Interesting enough, while most Red Eared sliders usually exhibit the same color pattern, there are actually more color morphs of the Red Eared sliders available than any other species of turtle in the world. The Albino Red Eared sliders are probably the most common turtles to own, and they can range anywhere from $125 to $200. The hatchlings will start out as a cool and calm yellow, morphing into a creamy white texture. However, Albinos despite their light texture will still have that trademarked yellow and red patch along their eyes near their ears.


You should be warned with a Hatchling Albino though, that they require a lot of food and great nutrition because they’re born with poor sight and vision. Studies have shown that their sight is very poor and that they need food placed directly in front of them for a few weeks so they don’t have to search too hard for it. Not a lot is known about taking Albinos outside or keeping them in an outdoor environment, so it’s best to keep them in a captive environment where their skin and carapace is protected while they’re developing.


Pastel Red Eared sliders are what are called abberations. They have an abnormal color patterning that can have red or orange pattern like textures or blotches on the shell. The majority of Pastel Red Eared sliders are female. No one really knows exactly how the pastel sliders are produced but there’s a lot of speculation regarding the subject, including high incubation temperatures, which is dangerous to their health. Pastel Red Eared sliders don’t live nearly as long as a normal Red Eared Slider because of their poor living conditions. They are born with abnormalities and will more than likely die early (about 50% quicker than regular sliders).


They can be very attractive and colorful to look at, but they can also be highly expensive as well. It’s best to disregard owning a pastel slider all together until more information is discovered about them and more is understood about them. The only thing we know is that they’re born with abnormalities due to birth abnormalities or poor incubation conditions.




The Red Eared slider tends to be a very avid basker and you’re going to more than likely want to invest into a platform that will allow them to do so. These are called basking platforms and they’re usually equipped with a special type of heat lamp that will help maintain perfect temperatures for basking. When adjusting the temperature settings, you want to make sure that they have a daytime temperature of 85 to 90 degrees. Also, you want to make sure that the platform surface is completely dry and free of moisture because if it’s not, it can be damaging to the plastron.


Also, if you go with a relatively small enclosure (which is highly discouraged and not recommended), then you’ll have to keep a close eye on the temperature, because it’s too easy for the small enclosures to overheat when there’s a basking platform or lamp inside of them. Monitor the temperature closely to make sure that they’re not being overheated or else you might lose your slider. It’s recommended that you use UV-B lighting since UV-B lighting will provide the proper and necessary means to convert a precursor to Vitamin D3 for the skin.


Also, D3 is used to process calcium as well, which helps their shell and plastron. As for the exact bulbs or fluorescents you should be getting, it’s best to stick with 5.0 or 10.0 tubes. Anything outside of that range is not recommended nor tested officially. You’ll want to get some kind of submersible heater for the water so that you can keep the water temperatures in the appropriate range. You don’t want the water becoming too cold to where they don’t go into it at all, but you also don’t want the water to become so warm that it could burn the turtles.


Turtles have super sensitive skin when it comes to being burned and they’re at a very high risk of being on the receiving end of a burn via hot water. If you can get a hold of one, it’s best to use a Tronic heater guard or a home-made version on the heaters for glass or even a steel heater to prevent it from being damaged. Steel heaters will be a bit more expensive but will definitely be worth the price and far more durable. Also, you need to make sure that you unplug the heater before submerging it into the water.


The reasoning for this is when a heater is in the air, it will become very hot, very quickly. This will create an unsafe atmosphere for any living animal in the enclosure, even if it’s only a couple of minutes. One of the best features of the Red Eared slider is how great of a swimmer they are. They’re natural born swimmers in the water, so for that reason, they require deep water. Of course, you don’t want anything in the enclosure that permits their escape or traps them under the water as well.


There are several options out there for aquatic substrates but they can be a bit price and they’re completely optional. These are for cosmetic reasons only and will give you more to clean, so it’s really up to you. The bare bottom enclosure is the easiest to clean when you’re changing out the water or doing maintenance, but if you must have substrate, then you’ll want to get some soft type of sand. However, some people like the gravel look but gravel aren’t recommended with many exotic pets due to the risk of impaction.


Red eared sliders rarely swallow gravel but there have been rare reports of them trying to swallow some types of substrate, and this might be due to confusing some of the substrate for food. For this reasoning, while it’s rare, it’s better to be safe with sand or a bare bottom type enclosure. What some people like to do is, and this is debatable as to whether this helps development in juveniles or not, is to provide driftwood in the enclosure. What some people might do is provide some driftwood near the surface so that the turtles can rest when they’re not swimming.


This isn’t mandatory and just like the submerged substrate, it’s completely optional. Whether or not you have to turn the lights off at night is highly debatable because there’s not enough evidence for or against it. Some animals however have what’s known as an internal circadian rhythm. These are influenced heavily by the photo period and this basically tells them when to sleep and when to be awake. Some more pricey lamps and aquatic system come with an on and off automatic switch that will cycle every 12 hours. There’s really nothing wrong with doing this, but it’ll be up to you.


Keep track of the health of your turtle if you keep the light on 24/7 and make sure that nothing bad happens to them or their health doesn’t deteriorate. A highly powerful filter will be needed for the tank, specifically for the waste that a red eared slider produces. When a red eared slider produces toxic waste, out comes a substance known as ammonia. These are nitrogen based wastes that are extremely smelly and toxic. Believe me, it’s the last thing you want stinking up your home or apartment, so it’s highly important that you get a powerful filter that takes care of excrete like this.


Any powerful filter will do a process that actually converts that ammonia in a process called bio-filtration. The bio-filtration process will take the ammonia and convert it to nitrate. This entire process can take up to 6 weeks at first but after that, you won’t notice much difference than a clear tank most of the time. Any filter you pick should be rated for at least double the enclosure size that you picked for your animal.


There are no real studies on what exactly ammonia does to health of red eared sliders but we do know that they can and do kill fish. Ammonia will also stink like high heaven to anyone in the immediate area and will stink up your house real quick. Now the real maintenance comes in the water change. You’re going to need to change the water quite frequently to keep a healthy habitat for the slider. The normal recommended about for a water change is about 25% every single week. This is only if the tank is sparsely populated by one or two turtles.


However, if you have a large tank, then a 50% minimum amount of water should be changed out, along with the bottom substrate to help clear the murky waters using an underwater vacuum. There are plenty of these on the internet and whichever one you pick is your own personal preference.


Now while there are abnormally large male red eared sliders out there, the common male can get away with living in a 75 gallon aquarium just fine without any issues. However, the adult females (even just one of them) will require them to be stored in a 125 gallon tank at a very minimum. The reasoning for this is because they’ll need the room for their quality of life, because if they feel cooped up at all and locked into a tight space, their health will suffer greatly. Also, this will help with the filtration process and adding a lot of water.


As for your basking areas, there is a lot of wiggle room here because there’s more than one right answer, and it’ll ultimately come down to a style choice. The floor or “substrate” can be anything from sand, to gravel, to smooth rocks, flat rocks, drift or anything that basically can support the weight of a red eared slider. They don’t particularly weigh a lot, but you want some substrate that isn’t abrasive and still sturdy enough to support something medium sized. While adults can live and grow healthy in smaller tanks, it’ll look like a prison cell for inmates due to them needing a lot of room.


If you would like to house additional red eared sliders, then it’s highly recommended that you increase the size of the tank accordingly. You’ll have to do some measurements based on how many sliders you plan on housing. It’s not uncommon to fit two red eared sliders into the same tank but you should be warned that if you house a female and a male together, it’s highly possible that the male will sexually harass or assault the female. The standard unit for measurement should be adding one half of the enclosure size per slider that you add to the tank.


Hatchling red eared sliders will more than likely be better off to start out in a 20 gallon aquarium with long glass. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it’s the recommended size for optimum growth. As a very rough estimate, assuming you don’t buy the entire thing whole, you can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $400, depending on the type of materials you buy. This estimate includes the tank, the stand, the hood, the UV-B build, the basking lamp, the bulbs, the filters, the submersible heater, the substrate (if you choose to get any) and any other accessories. However, if you decide to go with something such as a 70 or 100 gallon tank, then you might be looking at $1,500 or more.


What you’ll need is a simple and sizeable enclosure that can do the job. You’ll also need a basking lamp to make sure they have an adequate place to bask in. You’ll also need bulbs for those lamps (there’s different recommendations for this) and you’ll need UV-B lighting. The technical name for this kind of lighting is fluorescent hood. Also, you’ll need to look into getting a submersible heater since these pets are more water bound than most pets.


Don’t go cheap on the filters, because when people buy cheap filters for their enclosures, the place will start to stink up really fast. Find a filter that has a rating for at least double the maximum tank size. It’s far easier on your wallet to buy all of these items one by one rather than buying an entire system setup somewhere, because they’ll charge you an arm and a leg more.




For ideal temperature and heating conditions, you want to make sure that your air temperature is at a very moderate 70 degrees. Some people have gotten away with going up to 80 degrees, but low 70s seems to be the safe spot. That’s the air temperature. The basking temperature however can be a bit higher because Red Eared Sliders like to bask in warm temperatures. For basking temperatures, we recommend 85-90 degrees. If you do go up to 90 degrees, remember to keep it low 90s or you’ll risk burning out the pet.


You’ll have to keep a close eye on your water temperature as well. Unlike some breeds of pets, you actually need to make sure that the water temperature for hatchlings and juveniles is warmer than it would be for adults. For the adults, you’ll want their water temperature to be a nice and moderate 72 to 76 degrees. As for the hatchlings, they require a slightly warmer water climate with temperatures ranging from 78 to 80 degrees as the ideal temperature.


When Red Eared sliders aren’t in captivity and live in the wild, they’ll encounter a wide range of climate changes across the range. For this reason, if you have the equipment and the budget to control the temperature, these pets are great outside pets and survive just fine. It may be more work than it would to place them in an inside enclosure, but it’s far more appealing and they thrive better in captivity when there’s an outside enclosure. If you live in the southern part of the United States or some other warm climate countries, you’ll find that it’ll be easier to raise these pets and keep them alive for their expected life duration.


It’s common science to see people adapt to the environment that they live in overtime and to get used to the temperatures they stay in. One thing you have to understand about the Red Eared slider is that they have adapted to and are used to living in the warm climate. If you choose to raise them in an area that gets snow or go further north, then you might lose them in the winter if you choose to keep them as an outside pet. People in areas that experience cold winters need to have an inside enclosure with an appropriately warm enclosure to adjust for the season.




Red Eared sliders will go throughout their lives being omnivores which start out as carnivores. Basically this means that as a juvenile, they’re going to prefer live and meat type foods, but as they grow into adults, they’re going to want something more along the lines of plants. However, there are some adults and some breeders have noted that they can feed their adults meaty foods without any issues. Also, you can offer adults’ meaty foods and non-meaty foods a majority of the time and the adults will take it, as long as the foods are offered at the same time.


One of the most important things you need to remember is that like a dog, these turtles will keep eating anything protein based as long as you keep feeding it to them. For this reason, you need to make sure you’re controlling their protein intake and making sure you’re not feeding them too much. The symptoms of being overfed include extremely fast rapid growth and a shell that’s arched more than usual. If you start to notice rapid growth, it might be time to slow down the feeding process.


Also, overfeeding has been suspected to cause some health problems such as kidney damage and liver failure in these turtles as well. In short, overfeeding turtles will more often than not, shorten their life span by a significant amount. It’s important to make sure you’re keeping a close eye on the turtle’s diet to ensure not only that they’re eating it all but that they’re growing at a healthy rate and not growing too rapidly.


Here are compiled and small lists of the foods they eat: They tend to eat Mazuri, ReptoMin, Feeding Fish, Gut Loaded or Normal Crickets, Cichlid Sticks or Pond 10. Some of those aren’t as common as others but there is a number of different edible food choices out there that provide them a healthy dose of protein and allow them to grow optimally. Other food that they’ll eat includes worms, krill, blood worms, crayfish, shrimp and even aquatic plants.


A lot of these are relatively inexpensive as well. Some of the aquatic plants that they’ll eat include anacharis, weeds, hyacinth, lilies, lettuce, fern, pondweed, starwort, milfoil, frogbit and more. If you’re looking to feed your turtles a diet that’s rich in vegetables, then you might want to look into some of the least expensive options such as squash, beans, beet, collard, squash, zucchini, leaves, endive, romaine, leaf lettuce, kale, escarole, dandelions and mustard greens. These lists are just a small sample size of some of the foods that they’ll eat and that are healthy for them as well.


Consult with your breeder or the origin of which you got the pet to see what kind of food they were previously feeding them so that you don’t have to break them into a brand new food type. Some breeders and pet owners prefer to use a brand name food that usually will include ReptoMin (which is one of the more notable brands). Obviously, this isn’t mandatory and many of the self-claimed perks by the brand are just marketing tactics, but they do offer some benefits as well.


A good portion of the diets offered by some of these name brand products are about 70% carnivorous meaning that they’ll not only please juveniles but adults as well as it offers both. Remember, adults don’t commonly eat meaty foods but if they’re being offered herbivore foods and carnivore foods simultaneously, and then you’ll have a higher chance of getting them to eat it.


Don’t rely solely on these brand name foods though just to provide all the nutrition that a red eared slider needs to grow healthy. You’ll also need to round out that diet and feed them something completely meat with a lot of protein such as an earth worm or crickets. Crickets are by far, one of the most common meals for household exotic pets. A lot of exotic pets prefer live bait, meaning that they want bait that’s moving around rather than standing still.


Not only that, but crickets are extremely cheap to buy and incredibly easy to find. You can buy crickets in bulk at the same price that you can buy a couple meals of the brand name stuff that doesn’t get you many meals at all. You’re getting a far better bargain and deal with the crickets. Remember, it’s best to include some kind of herbivore meal into whatever you’re feeding them, even if it’s just some leaf lettuce. You can look up the specifications of certain kinds of lettuce for lettuce that’s high in fiber.


Fruits aren’t typically recommended as a snack or main nutrition course for red eared sliders because they don’t commonly encounter fruits out in the wild nor do they eat them. It’s not impossible to get turtles to eat fruit, but it’s hard to break them into and if you only feed turtles fruit, they may not eat at all since they’re not used to the food type.


Why not feed turtles mice? This is a common question asked by brand new pet owners, because people want to feed them hairy products like cheap bulk mice. The reason for this is, red eared sliders and most turtles don’t eat anything with hair out in the wild. They’re not used to eating food with hair on it and it’s not common to try to get them to eat it. It’s also not recommended because they may stop eating if you suddenly change their diet to something they’re not used to. Hair is very hard to digest for these animals and could lead to the formation of hairballs inside of their intestinal track.


As far as sticking to a recommended feeding schedule, you want to make sure that you pick a schedule and stick to it, because you don’t want to confuse the turtle. At the time that a red eared slider is born, it’s going to depend on you for survival and for the first 6 months of their life. That’s something you need to consider if you ever think about trying to breed them.


For the first 6 months of their lives, you’re going to be feeding them commercial pellets (at least that’s what’s highly recommended). Any kind of pellets for turtles or small meaty foods will ideally do. You can get away with feeding juveniles earthworms or crickets as well, but they need to be small to be easier for digestion and consumption. The feeding schedule is basic and straight forward. A juvenile red eared slider only needs to be fed adequately once a day to grow healthy. You want to make sure their appetite is getting quenched, but you want to make sure at the same time that you’re not gorging the turtle as well.


After that first initial 6 months, you can then move on to feeding every other day. The reason for this is, they’re used to their digestion track by then and being a turtle, they don’t need to eat as often because of how they digest food. They’re also great at storing food as well. While it’s not mandatory, you can offer them some small chunks of leaf lettuce or other herbivore food as well if you please. You really don’t have to do this, even when they’re adults but I guess there’s no real downsides to doing this as well.


This is the hardest part of owning a red eared slider. While you’re feeding them for the first year, you have to pay close attention to their growth cycle and make sure that they’re growing adequately, because you don’t want them to overgrow or grow too fast. Overgrowing or growing too fast will greatly shorten their lifespan tremendously. While feeding them, especially for the first 6 months, you need to keep track of their appetite, how much they’re growing and what their activity level is.


If you begin to notice that your turtle is starting to rapidly grow, the shell is starting to become deformed or a severe lack of activity in your turtle, then there could be a couple of things wrong. First, you might not be feeding your turtle enough each serving or you might need to change their diet. It’s been known that an undesired diet over time can depress the turtle and cause them to stop eating later on. There are rarely any reasons that you would ever need to take a red eared slider to a veterinarian. Not only that, but working on a turtle is hard, because the second strange hands get near them, they’re going to withdraw into their shell.


If you notice some shell deformities, then protein might be the reasoning for this and to combat this, all you have to do is simply cut back on the amount of protein that they’re being fed. If you don’t cut back on the protein intake, what might happen is you’ll either damage the intestines of your turtle or they’ll have a permanently deformed shell. While a permanently damaged shell may not be life threatening for most turtles, it’s more of a quality of life thing.




This is a very common question among the reptile community and people who own red eared sliders. Most people want to know if their animal is hibernating and if they’re supposed to hibernate at all. The short answer is no, red eared sliders in fact do not hibernate. However, what they do is a process called brumate. They will tend to stay in the water for longer periods of time and during those winter seasons; they’ll need less air and surface time as they usually would.


Depending on the turtle and the season, red eared sliders will tend to brumate at different variations. For example, in a winter climate and environment, they’ll go to the bottom of a shallow pond or lake and will become inactive. During the winter months in climates they live, the temperature may drop down to 50 degrees in October, and during this time they’ll go to the bottom of a shallow surface and stop eating. Not only that, but they’ll stop defecating as well. Their breathing will slow substantially and they won’t do anything. It’s not uncommon to find them during the winter months under rocks or stumps bromating.


However when the weather is warmer in a climate during winter, they will come to the surface more often. They like to bask during those winter months as long as the temperature is around 70 degrees during the winter season. If or when that temperature drops again to 50 degrees, they’ll return right back to the brumate state. The brumate state will generally end around March or April, with some rare reports stating that owners didn’t see their turtle come up much at all until May.


The energy requirements of a red eared slider are significantly less during the brumate process because the body isn’t processing much and isn’t utilizing much energy.




If you’re looking to breed or mate red eared sliders, you should be warned that each individual slider will require special attention and care if you want it to live a long and happy life. It’s better off to breed a different pet rather than a red eared slider as your first pet, due to the special requirements of breeding them and maintaining them as juveniles. While sliders make great first time pets by their selves, they do not make great first time breeding pets.


Generally, you’ll find that the courting or mating process will occur between the months of March and July for the sliders if you have a female and male together. The mating will differ from most pets that you’re used to though, because this mating ritual will actually take place under the water. It may seem weird but the usual ritual for these animals goes a little like this:


Around or during courtship, the male will frantically swim around the female and continuously flutter the back side of his claws. He will continue to do this around her face and her head. It’s believed by researchers that the reason for this is, the male is directing pheromones towards the female and that’s why he uses his claws, but no one knows for certain why exactly this happens. Then the female can either agree to the mating ritual or not. If she agrees, then she will swim to the male’s general direction and will sink to the bottom.


If she’s not as receptive and doesn’t take kindly to the idea, then she may become aggressive to the male and you will see a fight break out between the two. It’s more often than not that the female is receptive but it does happen. While the courtship process can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, the actual mating process only takes about 10 minutes total.


If you have two males in the same tank, you should be worried if you start seeing signs that one is trying to be courting to the other male in the tank. What’s happening here is they’re not being courting at all but he’s actually trying to initiate a fight. This is what a male red eared slider does when they want to assert their dominance over another turtle. If you notice the courting process going on between two males, it’s best to separate them or stop the fight before it happens, due to the risk of one turtle becoming damaged or hurt.


Young turtles don’t commonly go through the mating process when they’re younger than the age of 5. It’s not uncommon to see them try, but maturity sexually usually happens once they reach 5 years old. They may or may not be able to mate before that time. If the mating ritual was successful and all went well, then the female will start to change her behavior slightly. You’ll notice that the female will begin to bask a lot more because she now has to keep her eggs warm. Eggs need a lot of warmth in order to grow and hatch accordingly.


You may also notice some drastic or severe changes in diet because the process will alter the foods she’s normally able to eat. It’s really not uncommon to notice that some foods aren’t being eaten as much as usual. The amount of eggs that a female can lay will really depend on certain factors such as the body, the overall health and the size of the turtle. It’s not uncommon to have 5 or more eggs but it’s been reported that a female can lay up to 30 eggs.


A female is able to lay five different clutches in a single year of eggs. The clutches should be spaced anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks apart with varying times. The time between when the eggs are laid and mating may be as little as a couple of days or it could actually be several weeks before this process takes place. The eggs production is rapid and the female is almost instantly ready to lay eggs once she has mated. Interestingly enough, the actual fertilization of the eggs isn’t a process that takes place during mating. This process will occur during the actual laying of the eggs.


You’ll notice that she’ll be roaming around the enclosure scratching at the ground and looking for a suitable place to lay her eggs. She’ll spend a couple of days doing this depending on her fertilization cycle and if mating was actually successful. The female won’t spend nearly as much time in the water as usual. During the incubation process, it could take up to 100 days and as little as 50 days for the eggs to actually hatch.


However, if your eggs were laid in the winter and the hatchling come out in winter, then the hatchlings will more than likely spend most of their time in the nest until the temperature is warm again.    

Pacman Frog Care Sheet

The Pac-Man Frog or otherwise known as the Ceratophrys Ornate is one of the most basic exotic frogs and a great pet for beginners. The sudden surge in popularity is because of just how easy they are to care for and their basic care needs. They also have a very unique look to them. The Pac-Man frog is originally found and originated from the South American rainforests. However, breeders have come up with Albino Pac-Man frogs which are inexpensive due to their basic care needs and how easy they are to manage.


The only downfall to owning a Pac-Man frog is that they’re known as one of the laziest species of frog on the planet. They’re not exactly the most active amphibians that you can own but they’re a wonderful first pet to have for beginners. You can expect the average Pac-man frog to live up to 10 years if they’re kept in great conditions and their upkeep is generally done well. You’ll notice that they don’t seem to move once they find a spot they enjoy, because they’ll spend a majority of their day sitting in one spot.


The only time you’ll more than likely see them move out of their favorite spot is to catch some spotted food or to use the restroom. After all, no one wants to go number two where they sit all day. One of the most interesting features about the Pac-Man frog is that it has no neck. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the head is joined to the body without the use of a neck. This has been speculated to allow more room for bigger pray.


This is where the name Pac-Man comes in, because they have a very large mouth that makes up for the lack of a neck. Even more resembling is that two big eyes will appear above the large mouth as well. While they’re known for being more colorful than the standard pet frog, they will generally stay green for their entire lives. You can tell females apart from males by noticing the base and the width of the frog. The females will be slightly larger and rounder than the males.


Pac-Man frogs have been known to be slightly anti-social and don’t really like being handled. That’s why, it’s recommended that they be left alone and not handled at all, because they’re one of the very few species of frog that actually own teeth. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t handle them, but use caution and make sure that you wash your hands every single time before and after you handle a Pac-Man frog. You may not realize it, but there are plenty of sensitive oils on your hands that aren’t safe for the frog and could cause harm if it comes into contact.




Unlike your common backyard or stream frog, the Pac-man frog is what’s known as a tropical frog. This means that the species are used to areas that get a lot of humidity and for this reason, the Pac-man frog is going to require a lot of humidity. To best make sure they’re getting the proper amount of humidity, the frog should be kept in an enclosed type of habitat. An aquarium will ideally work best.


The best kind of aquarium to get is one that has a screen lid that doesn’t come off easily, to prevent escape from any pet you might be housing. Also, this screen lid allows for proper air flow and ventilation inside the enclosure. If you don’t want to buy an enclosure, then you can use a plastic tub that you’re not currently using or ever plan on using again, as long as you create a lot of small holes that allow for proper ventilation.


The good news about Pac-man frogs and having aquarium enclosures is that they’re not great climbers and there’s a very low chance that they’ll be able to escape from the top. It’s still not advised to leave the top open because while it’s hard for them to climb, it’s not impossible. A lot of owners have reported watching their frogs climb up the corners of an aquarium so it’s best to watch out for that and to have a lid that’s shut very tightly. If you’re looking for the perfect size, then you need to consider a couple of factors.


First, exactly how many frogs do you plan on putting into one enclosure? How big are these frogs and do you plan on breeding them? If you only plan on housing one frog inside of an enclosure, then you should be just fine with a 10 gallon aquarium, a slightly larger 15 gallon or a better 20 gallon aquarium. A 10 gallon aquarium is the bare minimum and is efficient but it’s highly recommended that you get a 20 gallon aquarium as soon as possible, because you’ll have to anyways once they grow larger.


If you’re thinking about housing Pac-man frogs together, then this probably isn’t the best idea. Pac-man frogs are best known as anti-social and are best kept alone by themselves without anything there to bother them. It’s not uncommon for new owners to try storing two Pac-man frogs into the same container and to have them fight, trying to eat each other. Remember, Pac-man frogs will literally try to eat anything you put in front of them (including another frog).


As for the substrate material, you’ll want something that will help with the humidity. The better that the substrate can hold in the humidity, then the better it is for this case. Also, you have to remember that this particular species of frog likes to burrow down into substrate so you need to provide the proper substrate at least a few inches deep. People have reported that they had the best luck and the best look with something such as coco bedding.


Some owners like to use soil such as potting soil but one of the major downsides here is that it will become very soggy and it’s going to be a mess to clean up later. There are a lot of other bedding options, but some of them are very messy. Shredded paper is an iffy one because the frog MAY or may not try to eat some of the paper and it’ll be kind of disgusting to clean up once there’s a lot of excrete in the enclosure. Paper towels rip up too easily and become too much of a hassle to pick up once they’re wet, so those aren’t the best option.


Whatever you do, make sure you don’t use a material such as mulch or chunk moss. It’s highly frowned upon and may actually lead to the death of your frog. This is because it’s way too chunky and remember, a Pac-man frog will try to eat anything that it thinks it can eat, so if sees a piece of mulch that it mistakes for food, it will try to eat it. The risk here being, that it may block the intestines if swallowed and cause impaction.


Also, never, ever try to use any kind of material such as cedar bedding or any sort of pine material what so ever. This is usually material that’s sold for small mammal pets such as gerbils and hamsters and while it make work great for them, it’s not great for frogs. You don’t have to provide a lot of decorations or things for Pac-man frogs to play on, because as long as they have a place to burrow down, they’re more than likely happy. They like to find a nice spot in the substrate and burrow down into the substrate and sit there. This not only provides a sense of security but the species is particularly lazy.


If you really want, you can decorate your frog’s cage with things such as vines, plants, rocks or small trees for your pets to sit on. They may like hiding spots but they like the burrowing into the substrate the best. The general maintenance of an enclosure is relatively easy and only requires you to do basic tasks. The water in an enclosure should be changed at least once a day when they get watered so that you can remove bacteria and other nasty materials floating around in the water.




The ideal temperature for a Pac-man frog will vary depending on the time of day as with most animals. However, the most important thing that you have to remember is with the lighting. You need to make sure that you’re ensuring they have a day and a night cycle inside their enclosure. The best and easiest way to do this is with an automatic timer, unless you plan on doing this manually every single day. It’s recommended that you allow Pac-man frogs to have 12 hours of light per day and the other 12 of darkness.


Since your enclosure will more than likely feature a lamp inside, you’ll need to make sure that the core temperature of the cage during the day doesn’t exceed 85 degrees. It’s ideal to make sure that the temperature stays in the range of 80 to 85 degrees during the day and at night; you want to make sure temperature drops down to a basking cool 68 to 78 degrees. There are heaters out there that do this automatically, but make sure you have a high quality thermometer to constantly check when you first set your enclosure up to make sure the right temperatures are being hit.


The humidity will not only ensure that they have a smooth shedding process, but it will prevent them from burning up and improve their quality of life as well. There are plenty of tools for checking the humidity but if you want to make sure they’re at the ideal spot, go for 70%. You can go as low as 50% humidity and all the way up to 80% humidity, but it’s generally recommended that you stay at 50%.


Another important housekeeping tip to remember is never to place your glass enclosure or whatever kind of enclosure you have directly in the sun. Too much sunlight exposure to your frog will kill it because the enclosure will become too hot. As far as frogs go, it’s highly recommended to have a day and night cycle by using an automatic light switch or doing it manually. It becomes unhealthy if your pet never sees any kind of night time and not only will this confuse your frog, but it might eventually kill it.


If you’re not making use of a heating lamp at all, then you need to make sure that there’s some kind of daylight source (other than the sun) that will provide the day time light. Not everyone has to use a heating lamp and some people have gotten away without using one at all because their enclosure in their home was the perfect temperature without using one.


You need to make sure that they get an exact 10 to 12 hour cycle because irregular cycles in exotic pets have been known and shown to cause depression. Depressed animals will stop eating and will eventually die. Take a note of the time the light is being turned on and try to stick to that schedule if you can. It’s not a big deal if you miss one day, but it’s best not to make a habit of that and cause stress to your frog. Alternative to a heating lamp, you can use a heat mat as well. These usually do the trick and are a common household item to use with exotic pets.


If you’re having trouble maintaining the perfect humidity at around 50 to 80 percent, then try using a spray bottle and mist the enclosure every once in a while until the humidity starts to level out. You may want to tweak the heating mat/heating lamp settings as well to ensure that it’s not getting too hot and messing with the humidity.




Pac-man frogs tend to eat live insects more than any other type of food out there. While owners have gotten away with feeding Pac-man frogs things other than live insects, they do best with this type of food. Ideally, you have to track how much you’re feeding your pet each session and track their growing habit as well, because that will determine how much you should be feeding your pet.


The feeding schedule will honestly depend on how much you’re feeding the Pac-man frog and a couple of other factors as well. How big is your frog and what’s the body type like? Obviously, a larger frog is going to require a larger meal and you have to give an adequate meal to compensate for the appetite. What kind of food is the frog already used to eating? If you bought the frog from a breeder or pet store, then this is a useful question to ask, as you don’t want to switch up the diet of the frog.


Switching a diet suddenly cold turkey can cause your Pac-man frog to stop eating altogether and lead to depression, which can lead to death as well. Like most exotic pets, you can follow a routine and general feeding schedule by the age of the frog. If it’s a baby, then you’ll want to feed it once every single day and to make sure it doesn’t miss a meal. Every meal is essential for a newborn frog to grow and to get all the nutrition it needs to remain healthy.


When the frog is an adult, you can get away with feeding it only once a day. There’s no real reason to feed it snacks or meals in between meals because this can lead to overfeeding. Now, since you more than likely don’t breed your own insects and like most people have no desire to, you’ll have to make regular trips to the pet store to pick up live insects. The good news is, they’re relatively cheap and insanely easy to find, so buying them in bulk won’t be much of an issue.


If you’re looking for the best type of food to feed a Pac-man frog, then you can go by this following list. This is a small sample list of food that a Pac-man frog will eat from the best food to the worst food (all are decent choices). First, you have your crickets which are the most budget friendly and high in protein. Being that they provide great nutritional value is what makes them so popular and alongside being very cheap, they’re the most common choice for most exotic pets.


You can also feed Pac-man frogs roaches but roaches creeps the majority of people out and no one wants to handle them. It’s not very common to find roaches in a pet store for feed because of that reason and they offer no real value or benefit in terms of vitamins for your pets. Earthworms are also a decent choice but it’s highly debatable for a long term diet plan because most experts say that these not only offer no vitamin value but can fatten up pets that feed off of them.


It would be wise not to get into a habit of letting them eat off of earthworms but you can find them easily via fishing shops for cheap and in bulk. Moths are another wonderful choice but these aren’t as easily accessible as the other options are. The majority of frogs in captivity aren’t quite used to moth meals so it might not be the worst idea to try them out, but this isn’t a recommended meal to get them hooked on. One of the less interesting decisions is what’s known as meal worms and wax worms. While these worms may be great for getting fish to bite on to a hook, they’re a terrible choice for your pet.


These worms are very high in fat and will definitely shorten the life span of your frog or any exotic pet you choose to make a habit out of feeding them worms. The least favorite and least taken route is pinky mice. Pinky mice are small pinkish mice that snakes and other live bait lovers love to eat, but I don’t recommend them for Pac-man frogs. While Pac-man frogs may eat them, frogs generally don’t like to eat largish prey like mice and they may have trouble digesting them. This is something that you should try at your own risk and monitor their intake.


Now, there is a tactic called gut loading that a lot of people debate over and there are some good things about it. However, it’s a lot of work and it’s not absolutely necessary. The majority of gut loading lovers at companies that sell vitamin supplements and powders to use while gut loading and there are two major methods of gut loading. First, there’s the traditional method of just simply sprinkling powder type material or vitamins onto crickets and second, there’s the method of actually feeding crickets vitamins.


The way to do this is to simply have your crickets in their own container that you plan on feeding to the frogs, and to feed them small fruits or vitamins. After about half an hour, you can then feed the crickets to the frogs so that they get more nutrients. This isn’t mandatory and some people might say that it’s simply not worth the effort to gut load crickets because of all the work required. Your frogs will get just the right amount of nutrients from feeding the crickets raw as well.


It is a good idea though in theory, to have your prey with nutrients inside of them so that you’re getting double the benefit, but it’s not 100% necessary. These frogs thrive in the wild without their prey being gut loaded and they thrive just as well in captivity without anything being gut loaded. You should take caution on meal worms because some owners have reported that frogs had trouble digesting them. They’re a bit fatty and their exoskeletons aren’t exactly the easiest on frog’s mouths, so they have trouble actually digesting them.


If you really feel like digging up or buying some worms, be my guest, but it’s best to avoid using them altogether. Wax worms are by far the worst choice of a treat for your frogs or any exotic animal. These should be left for getting fish onto a hook and nothing more. These are very high in fats and are considered desert to your pet. If you really want to treat your frog to a desert, then there’s nothing wrong with doing it every once in a while, but remember not to go overboard.


As far as calcium and vitamin supplements go, there is a long debate on this that varies from owner to owner, but I’m going to tell you right now that it’s not necessary. Yes, it can help and yes, it isn’t going to hurt but if you really want to do it, then here’s how. First, you need to buy some kind of vitamins in the form of dust (at least dust powder is the easiest way to do it) from the pet store. All you have to do is simply dust the food you’re about to feed the frog (if in this case it’s crickets, then this is gut loading that we mentioned earlier) and feed it to them.


If you do feed the frogs supplements, then remember that you don’t have to do this at every single feeding and it’s not recommended. Certain vitamins will actually do more harm than good if you don’t obey the recommendations on the label of the product and overdo it.


One thing you need to be aware of is wild insects. While to someone curious, it might be fun to watch your pet eat a wild insect you caught by hand, this is a terrible idea. The reasoning behind this is, you have no idea what could be inside of that wild insect or what could be wrong with it. It could have a disease, it could have a parasite, it could get your frog sick or kill it if you pick the wrong one. It’s like picking berries in a forest, you have to know which ones to look for and which ones are poisonous. Don’t feed your frog insects or anything that you caught by hand. You either have to breed them or buy them at the store.




As almost all other types of reptiles and amphibians do, the Pac-man frogs will periodically shed their skin. This is something that happens frequently and every single year. It’s important as a pet owner for you to do everything that you can to help assist them with their shedding habit so that they have a smooth shed. Left over skin can become infected, so it’s important to make sure they shed all of their skin when they do.


One of the main things you need to do is make sure that there’s plenty of moisture inside of the enclosure. This will not only help keep your pet cool but assist with the shedding process. Be sure to spray some moderately warm but not too hot water in the cage when they start shedding. You can tell when Pac-man frogs are about to shed by observing their behavior, as you’ll notice some differences.


First, you’ll notice that they will start to yawn more than usual. The next thing you’ll notice is that their appetite will greatly diminish and they won’t be eating nearly as much. Frogs tend to do shedding a bit differently through. Rather than peeling off the entire surface of the skin at once, they tend to scratch off their own skin and actually eat it. The reason being, when they’re in the wild, they have to eat their own skin so they don’t leave any tracks or traces for predators.


If you notice your pet scratching at their own skin and eating it, don’t be alarmed, it’s not a cannibal, it’s just eating the old skin and it will happen at least once a year. The cycle will vary differently between species and it’s hard to predict an exact date for Pac-man frogs.

Collared Lizard Care

Sexing Collared Lizards

Young collared lizards males and females look very similar. As they mature males become larger that the females and often more colorful. You can also determine gender by looking at the enlarged preanal pores that males have.


Do not house more than one male together because male collared lizards can be very territorial. Collared lizards can grow quite large and need a sizable enclosure to be able to roam comfortable. A tank of at least 30 gallons for a single lizard will be required.

For temperature, 70° F at the cooler end and 90° F at the warmer end with a basking area of between 100° F – 110° F. Rocks in the basking area will allow them to regulate their temperature correctly. Even at night the temperature should not drop below 70° F. Either undertank heating or bulbs can be used. Humidity should be kept low at all times.
For substrate sand like calci-sand or natural play sand is best.
A hide can help the collared lizards control temperature and avoid stress. Rocks for baskings are useful as well but climbing elements are not required.
The enclosure should be cleaned weekly to remove waste.


Young Collared Lizards should be fed daily, as they grow you can move to feeding every other day. The bulk of their food should be in the form of crickets, meal worms, wax worms and other gut loaded insects. A calcium and multi-vitamin product can be used as well as directed by the product. Be sure the insects are sized correctly to avoid harm to your lizard. Remove any insects that go uneaten.
Clean water should be provided at all times.

King Snake Care Sheet


King Snakes are known as one of the most popular breed of snakes in the herpetoculture known as Lampropeltis. They also tend to share a lot of similarities with milk snakes as well which make them very common when grouped together. They mainly inhabit various areas of both North and South America. A large majority of snakes in the Lampropeltis genus tend to be from region of South America as well. There are multiple different varieties of king snakes out there and one of them being the California King Snake.


The alternate name for the California King snake is Lampropeltis Getula Califoniae. Right next to the California King Snake in popularity, you have the Grey Banded King Snake or (also known as the Lampropeltis Alterna). There are many other various breeds out there but these are just two of the most common type of King snakes out there. There are a few things that both the King snake and the milk snake both share that pet owner’s new and old love. Both type of snake are relatively easy to handle, they’ve been known to be relatively easy to breed with high success rates, and for those who choose snakes for their cosmetics, King snakes come in a wide variety of colors.


Choosing which King snake is best suited for you will ideally depend on what you want to do. Do you just want a pet that you can own and look at every once in a while? You’re more than likely going to want an adult because it’s less work and it’s less to worry about with a fully matured adult. If you’re looking to breed, then not only should you do some prior research to make sure you know what you’re doing but you want to make sure you’re getting your breeding snakes from a trusted source that takes great care of their pets as well.



One of the most difficult parts about choosing a home for this pet is finding out exactly what size cage you would need because King snakes don’t just come in one particular size. They can come up to a different variety of sizes so instead of having a baseline cage height and width, you’ll have to choose your home for the snake based on the individual snake or snakes you plan on housing. There are some pros and cons to using small and large cages for both adults and young.


When snakes are young, housing them in a small caging unit may make king snake care relatively easier food wise because they’ll be able to find their food a lot easier. However, as these snakes grow, they’re going to need more room and you’re going to have to constantly upgrade your housing if it’s not appropriately equipped to let these pets grow into full sized snakes. However, most pet owners prefer to only keep large cages so that they can get used and adapt to an environment they’ll grow into their entire lives. Sometimes, it can be hard introducing your pet into a new environment when you buy a brand new cage or lay out a brand new housing environment.


To get a decent idea about size proportions, if you’re raising by king snakes, you should be fine with using just a 10 gallon aquarium or cage. However, if you wish, you may even start out with a five gallon enclosure but you should be warned that it’s not going to last very long and this will ideally depend on just how small your snake is. Also, as stated earlier, this will highly depend on how often you really wish to purchase a new enclosure. King snake care is relatively easy and picking a habitat is easy as well, they’re not too picky and seem to do okay in most types of enclosures.


For adults however, you’re more than likely going to want something that’s at least twenty gallons. If you plan on breeding King snakes, then you might want to look into a 30 gallon enclosure at the minimum to ensure that you have plenty of room for breeding and development. How do you judge the size of a good enclosure for a king snake? The ideal size will be able to fit a thermal gradient in the enclosure. So what’s the big difference between an aquarium and a cage? Well, one of the most and foremost differences is the weight between an aquarium and a cage. Aquariums tend to be larger and heavier than the counterpart enclosures, cages. Their bulk and weight is what keeps many professional breeders away from them.


If you’re planning on starting a breeding company or owning at least 10 king snakes, then you’re going to want to use what’s known as the rack system. The easiest way to describe what a rack system looks like is to picture some chest drawers. That’s ideally what a rack system will be where you can slide the enclosures in and out and access which snakes you need to access at any time. On a rack system, there’s going to be a few different rows of cages stacked up vertically. How you accommodate your king snakes will ideally depend on how many there are and how large the snakes are but most owners prefer to only keep 1 to 2 per rack. One of the main concerns of the rack system however is that there’s no lid on the majority of them so that’s why you have to be careful and cautious if you decide to go with a rack system.


The official “lid” of a rack system is ideally the top of the enclosure rack when the drawer is pulled out. When you push the rack back in, the sides sliding in should align perfectly with the top of the next rack or the enclosure. Any good rack system should have a heat tape on the back of the enclosure which should help spread heat throughout the entire enclosure. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not only picking out a system that has adequate heating but you want to make sure there’s great heat spread in the enclosure which can be found with a thermometer. Another use of the thermometer besides measuring and monitoring heat conditions is to prevent the hazard of a fire popping up. Many breeders swear by the rack system for efficient monitoring of their daily habits and to make sure that there’s a thermal gradient providing adequate temperature in the enclosure.



Covering the bottom of your enclosure is relatively easy but with proper king snake care, there are actually quite a few choices you can use here. There are only a couple of different things that you should avoid at all costs because of the harmful chemicals inside of the substrate and those are pine shavings and cedar shavings. These products are known to be relatively harmful to snakes and can be deadly if used inside your enclosure. The main problem here is that have a risk of getting the shavings stuck in their mouth when they eat because of the aromatic oils inside the shavings. So, it’s best to avoid using cedar or pine shavings altogether and using one of the many other alternatives.


One great choice that’s recommended for king snake care is sterilized reptile bark. One of the main reasons that new pet owners like this substrate is because it’s easy on the eyes and it’s great to look at. However, one of the other benefits behind the bark is that it’s very easy to clean as well. It’s easy to spot any kind of waste left behind and all you have to do is lift and scoop when you want to clean out the tank or do what’s known as spot cleaning. The best part is, you don’t have to replace this substrate constantly like an alternative such as newspaper, you can get away with replacing sterilized reptile bark only once a month.


One of the other alternatives is what’s known as aspen bedding. Not only does this include the nice benefit of making it easy to spot clean but your king snakes will be able to burrow as well. Snakes like to hide and they like to burrow during certain times, and while it isn’t essential to allow them to do this, it’s just a nice bonus for them to have. If you’re on a shoestring budget or you’re still not sure what kind of substrate you should use, then maybe you should try a less common household option. Some household options may not be as great to look at, but they still serve their purpose and what they’re supposed to do.


If you have any old newspaper lying around or get newspapers on a consistent basis, then you might want to consider using newspaper. One of the benefits to using newspaper substrate is that it’s easy to spot clean but however, you’ll find yourself cleaning out the newspaper a lot of and putting it back in. So what’s the big deal about allowing a snake to hide and providing the right type of substrate that allows them to do so? They aren’t exactly going to die if you don’t provide them with a hiding place, however, these snakes like to feel secure, and especially when they’re brand new to their environment and everything looks brand new to them.


However, a hiding spot doesn’t have to be made out of substrate and often at times, it isn’t. You can be creative with this one, you can pick and choose whatever you want or even decorate it to blend in with the environment you’ve created in the enclosure. A lot of people have been creative with this one, and here are just a few examples of some hiding spots you can provide. First, you can cut out a cereal box, and open up a suitable sized hole for the snake to come and go as they please. Some people like to use shoeboxes as well but this will really depend on the size of the enclosure you’ve chosen for your snake. It may not be mandatory to provide burrowing ground but providing a hiding spot is absolutely essential for your pet.


If you don’t really feel like making a hiding spot or place to keep away from the cool, then you can always purchase a pre-made plastic one from the pet store. The majority of them is made in plastic and is already decorated, so all you have to do is set it in the tank. It really will depend on your own personal preference as to what you think looks the best. While these may cost more than making one on your own, the good news is, that they’re easily cleaned and maintained as all you usually need to do is wipe them off when they get dirty (which is very rarely). Some people prefer to have only one hiding spot for their king snakes but some people like to put two hiding spots inside of an enclosure (one in the coolest spot of the cage and one in the warmest spot of the cage).



Feeding your king snake is pretty easy and cost effective because like all other snakes, they’re carnivores, meaning they only eat meat. Feeding your snakes effectively may really depend on the size of the snake but ideally you want to be feeding your baby king snakes some pink mice. Pink mice are small in nature and aren’t going to harm or fight back against your snakes. Feeding habits and how much you should feed change based on the owner but if you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, you should be feeding them once or twice a week.


However, once your snake begins to grow or as any snake begins to grow for that matter, the prey that you feed the snake will need to grow as well. There are a lot of different theories on how to measure the optimal size for a snake’s food but what you ideally want to do is to take the diameter of the widest point of the head (which should exclude the head) and focus on that. It’s not uncommon for king snakes to eat other types of snakes that are the exact same size so as long as something is smaller or the exact same size as the snake, it’s a good bet that it will eat it.


Also, that brings up another point that you should be housing snakes individually, especially if you’re breeding babies and you might want to look into obtaining a rack system to store your snakes if you’re breeding. One common problem that new owners have is that their king snake regurgitates food and if you’ve never seen what this looks like then I don’t recommend doing a Google search on it because it’s not exactly pretty. This however is a very common problem when a King snake is held captive and is nothing new. This shouldn’t be cause for alarm if it only happens once or twice but if it happens several times or continues to happen then you might need to examine the eating pattern or food.


Usually this happens right after the snake is eaten its food and the number one cause for regurgitation is because the snake is handled too much right after eating, which is why you should leave it alone after eating, much like you don’t go swimming right after eating. Also, your snake might regurgitate food if the prey is far too large for the snake, if the food you fed it was infected or if the temperatures aren’t ideal. King snakes need heat in order to properly digest their food and if it’s too cool, then that’s the risk you’re going to take.


When feeding your king snakes, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out the kind of things they eat. While the most common thing to feed snakes when they’re in captivity is pink mice, in California the California King Snake breed often likes to feed on Rattlesnakes. One thing that you might want to look for when purchasing a baby king snake is that they were fed a certain kind of pinky mice. You don’t want mice from the wild that might be ridden with disease or infections, you want to make sure the snakes were raised eating unaltered and domestic mice. The majority of the time, a breeder has fed baby king snakes at least once and they should tell you if they haven’t.


Some other breeds have had issues when it comes to getting them to feed in captivity such as the grey banded king snake. This particular breed is notorious for having difficulty eating when they’re first in captivity, so make sure you know for sure that the pets have been fed domestic pinky mice at least once before you buy them, so you don’t have to worry about them not being used to the food. Now the type of prey that you should feed them can vary from what person to person says but it’s been proven that the best type of food is frozen prey that has been thawed out for eating. Also, freshly killed mice are the best as well for efficient eating.


One more benefit to feeding your snake dead mice is that they don’t bite. When you try to pick up or handle live mice, they’re more than likely going to try to bite you, especially if you’re feeding large mice to your adult snakes. Also, while this doesn’t happen often, some snakes have succumbed to bites from mice when they’re trying to feed, so you must watch carefully if you decide to feed your snake live bait. It’ll be much more efficient in the long run if you plan on raising your own mice instead of constantly going to the pet store and buying fresh mice. While it may seem more costly and it will be at first, you’ll save money in the long run.


Sometimes, you may encounter the rare problem that a snake doesn’t seem to want to eat its food. Snakes not wanting to eat can be caused by a wide host of things but the most common cause is poor environmental conditions. So the first thing you’re going to want to do is check on the temperature and the living conditions to make sure they’re correct. Then, you’re going to want to make sure the snake isn’t going through a shedding phase. After you’ve checked for that, make sure your snake isn’t ill or pregnant because that will cause the king snake to stop eating as well. Now, you may rarely encounter issues where even with all the right conditions, your snake refuses to eat.


If this becomes the case, then you might want to take it to the vet and have it checked for illness because they’re might be something you don’t know about going on. It’s really not uncommon for some snakes to refuse to eat in the winter time so this isn’t something you should be too worried about, because even with the best environment and living conditions available, it just gets too cold out, it’s hard to digest food and snakes aren’t interesting in eating sometimes. Also, during the cool season, you shouldn’t have to worry about feeding too much because this is usually when they’ll go into hibernation.


While feeding, the king snake will stop eating for two weeks prior to going into hibernation. Not only that but the snake will require a warm spot that it may remove anything and everything from the digestive tract before it begins the hibernation process. You’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature during this time and make sure you’re lowering it gradually over time to a steady and cool 60 degrees. 60 degrees is basically the lowest that you’ll want it to go to. While the snake won’t be eating during this time, you’ll want to make sure that it has access to plenty of water as well.



Handling your king snakes is actually very straight forward and is relatively easy compared to some other breeds that tend to be aggressive when approached by their owners. You’ll find that adult king snakes can be very laid back and very relaxing to handle, which allows you to simply reach in and pick your snake up. However, the babies at times may seem to be nervous, but they shouldn’t give you too much trouble as a result. One common mistake that new owners make is that they handle their new snake too much and end up stressing it out. If you happen to notice that your king snake suddenly changes their appetite, starts eating less or has a sudden behavioral change, don’t handle it for a while.




This is the most important and most vital to your pet’s health and safety, because without the appropriate temperatures they can’t survive adequate in a captive environment, nor can they breed. If you’re not careful about this part, then you’re going to want to consult with someone who knows what they’re doing to make sure you’re temperature is adequate for the cage but we’ll do the best we can help to help you out at keeping the cage warm. The best environmental conditions have to be present if you want to have a shot at breeding because if they’re not, the offspring won’t live very long.


If you’ve ever owned other pets or you’ve ever known anyone that’s ever owned any other type of pet other than a reptile, then your views and perspectives on what it takes to raise one of these pets may not be perfect. You see, raising a reptile and caring for them to ensure they live the longest life possible is far different than that of other pets such as a dog or a cat. Reptiles are all cold blooded, which means they unlike other animals don’t possess the ability to regulate heat from their body like warm blooded mammals. Basically king snakes rely on a very basic animal instinct when it comes to keeping cool or becoming warm (they simply go where the temperature feels right).


If it’s too warm, they’ll move to some shade or a hiding spot and if it’s too cool, they’ll simply move to a spot where it’s warm, which is why when you’re providing king snake care, you have to make sure that your snake has an adequate cage that has both warm and cool spots for both occasions. In the wild, reptiles go where they feel good and they learn to adapt in the wild, and it’s far easier in the wild because of the wide range of space open out there in the world. However, while in captivity, that freedom is gone and we must provide them the correct temperature and living conditions. The best thing you have to do is to provide them with a heating gradient so that they have plenty of options available.


The first and most essential part of a heating system that you’ll need is a good thermometer that’s preferably digital. You want something that can withstand heat and that’s as accurate as possible. Having a thermometer that’s even a few degrees off such as the old standard models might cause some undesired results or make miserable living conditions for your king snakes. The best temperature that you should be shooting for should be around 85 degrees but it can go up to 88 degrees at the absolute highest. This is what you’re going to want to shoot for on the warm end but when you go over to the cool side of the temperature gradient, you should be at a steady 72 degrees give or take a couple of degrees.


Now, at night, it’s not harm if the temperature does drop down to around 65 degrees but you have to make sure that if it does drop down to this temperature that he snake is warm during the day and temperatures resume to normal optimal temperatures. Now a lot of people have problems spreading heat throughout an aquarium and for that, the most simplistic and cost effective solution would be to get what’s known as an under tank heater or (UT). These under tank (UT) heaters are very effective and work a lot like a heading pad, working to spread the heat around evenly. To install an under tank heater, all you really have to do is simply apply the adhesive that should have come with it to the bottom of the aquarium. Then, simply slap the heater on and set the optimal temperatures for your enclosure.


Some people prefer to user under tank heaters because not only are they highly effective but they’ll work at night as well and you won’t have any bright lights annoying your king snakes. The second choice you’re going to have which is a more cost effective solution but less heat effective is what’s known as a heat bulb. The first thing you’re going to want to make sure you do when installing a heat bulb, is find a nice spot for the bulb to hang that the tank isn’t going to have any kind of access to. If it does, it might burn itself. There are a lot of different methods for doing this and a lot of people have switched to under tank heaters just to save themselves the hassle or running the risk of burning their pet or the house down with over tank bulbs.


One thing you’re going to want to pay attention to is the wattage of the bulb. The wattage essentially will determine just how hot the enclosure will get so don’t go nuts if you’re raising a king snake in a tiny enclosure or it may become what too hot way too fast. The correct temperature from each bulb will vary per enclosure, so that’s why you’re going to want to mess around with the distance from the bulb to your enclosure and the placement. This is where a digital thermometer comes in so you can measure the different areas of your cage, to makes sure both sections are adequately warmed or cooled.


Unlike a lot of other reptiles or pets kept in a cage, king snakes may not stop eating if the temperature is warm but they’ll be susceptible to burns if they get too close and they need the warmth to help them properly digest their food, so make sure they have the proper temperatures present before putting a snake in the cage. Also, when it comes to heat rocks, some people have wandered if it’s ok to use them and no, it’s not ok. While heat rocks may be effective for their general purpose and what they do, the main problem behind these heat rocks is that they’re accessible by the reptile and you run the risk of getting the pet burned.


Also, you need to take humidity into account as well. Keeping an eye on the humidity will essential to the survival of your pet, so make sure that the humidity stays around 50% (as low as 40% and as high as 60%) to be safe. Also, when the king snake is about to shed, humidity plays an important factor as well because this will assist it in the shedding process. All reptiles shed and it’s important to make sure they have a healthy and smooth shed or other issues may occur during that time.

Garter Snake Care Sheet

Garter Snake


One of the most important and foremost areas of owning a reptile is to provide not only a proper cage for a garter snake but to make sure you pick one that’s high quality as well. Basically, the priority list for ensuring that your snake stays alive for as long as possible will go from housing to food. There is also a lot of misinformation out there regarding certain aspects of raising and owning a garter snake that I hope to clear up. This might be a lengthy care guide for some or more than what they’re used to but as the garter snake is one of the most popular reptile pets out there, there’s a mound of information on them as well.


First, there are two common mistakes when it comes to housing a garter snake or effectively taking care of one. First of all, it’s highly common for brand new or inexperienced owners to provide their gecko with a cage that way too big for what they actually need. It’s not uncommon for people to go the extra mile and buy 50 to 70 gallon tanks all for one small pet which is a horrible idea. Some people even think this is a good idea because their pet should grow into it and while that is true, there are limits.


When you have a baby snake, you definitely aren’t going to need a 50 gallon tank, that’s way overdoing it. Also, while a garter snake can be commonly found near the water at their natural environment, you won’t find them too wet and they really don’t like to be in the water that much, so you can rule them out as being aquatic animals. Ideally, you don’t need a huge cage but all you really need to make sure of is that a cage is not only clean, but it’s constantly dry and that it’s not easily escaped. Also, you need to take a special note of the cage size and to make sure that you equip the cage with the right furniture.


What Should The Cage Size Be?

When you’re picking out a cage, the main problem you want to avoid is picking out a cage that tends to be too large or too small. If your cage is too small, then you’ll run into the problem that the snake won’t be able to move around, it won’t be able to do any exercise and the health will drastically decline because of this. However, if you have a cage that’s too large, then the snake’s going to feel very anxious all the time and insecure. Yes, snakes do have those emotions and it affects their behavior.


If you’re looking for a guideline to go by when you’re comparing the length of the garter snake, then what you want to do is take the actual length of the snake from the tip of the tail to the head and make sure that the tank’s height plus width is longer by quite a decent margin. This doesn’t mean you need to go nuts and buy a huge tank, but you want some wiggle room for the snake. Some people say that you should have space that’s twice the length of the snake just in width but all that really isn’t necessary.


However, another guideline to go by is that if a snake is up to three feet long, then an aquarium tank that’s two feet long and two feet high really would be just fine.


Now the common confusion comes when it’s time to pick out a cage for a baby snake because it ideally shouldn’t be larger than five gallons (but some people have gotten away with larger). If you really want to condense and save space, you could even get away with a tank that’s smaller than five gallons. You have to determine the size of the cage needed by their age and their size, and if you’re housing a snake that’s less than a year old, then you really don’t need a cage that’s larger than five gallons.


However, once a baby garter snake grows into a male, they can reach up to two feet long and that’s when you’ll want to consider upgrading to a 15 gallon tank, as this is the perfect size. Now, if you’re looking to store a breeding pair together or you’re looking to just put together two snakes, then you’re going to want a 25 gallon tank because they should still have plenty of room even with the both of them. If you want to provide more room, then you have to do it within reason. Really though, if you’re just using an cage, then you’re not going to need much more room.


However, if you’re using a planted terrarium instead for whatever reason you can upgrade to a slightly larger one. I would recommend that you go no further than the 35 gallon tank mark.


How To Prevent Escape

A snake running around about your house is more than likely one of the last things that you want and the scary part, they’re highly effective at escaping because of their anatomy. They can squeeze through some of the smallest holes and if there’s an escape route, they’re going to find it. This is why they’re very skilled at getting out of cages. One of the most important parts of garter snake care is to make sure that they can’t escape their cage and that the cage is secure. Ideally how they escape is, they will find some of the openings in the cage if it hasn’t been inspected properly.


You won’t know if a snake can get through a hole until it’s too late because they’re very determined, they don’t just give up. If a snake has the will and the ability to make it past the eyes, then the rest of the body will compress and allow it to escape the enclosure. This is why cage inspection is one of the most important things that you’ll do when you’re selecting a cage or adequate housing structure.


Also, if you have a cat around the place anywhere, your cat will more than likely become the happiest cat ever as it detects a new meal. Not only that but if you live in an apartment then your landlord will more than likely be less than pleased with you depending on the type of lease and what kind of pets you’re allowed to have. Also, I doubt your immediate neighbors are going to be too thrilled that you were too careless to inspect a cage and now there’s a garter snake running around the community.


So no matter what kind or brand of cage you get, you need to make absolute sure that it’s 100% escape proof and that you inspect nearly every inch of that cage, you want to be sure that there are absolutely no holes or gaps anywhere that’s accessible. First, check all of the lids on the cage and make sure that they’re not only firmly attached but they’re secured tightly as well. You don’t want a lid to just be sitting on there, you want to make sure that it’s a snug and tight fit.


Garter snakes may not be as strong as a python or boa but they are still moderately strong enough to push open faulty lids and will do so if they find one. You should never underestimate the ability of any kind of reptile no matter how small the animal is because one of the main things you should know when researching garter snake care of any kind of reptile care is, some of the smallest pets might surprise you with their ability. When you’re dealing with an aquarium made out of glass, it should come equipped with a screen lid and usually these are snapped onto the sides or top.


If the snake can fit in between the grilles where it snaps down, then it’s going to get out, so you need to make absolute certain that there are no gaps like this on the aquarium outlet. Or if there is even the slightest gap, then use your best judgment and make sure that if the snake were to try to push through, that it wouldn’t be able to get past the eyes. However, when you’re housing a baby snake in an aquarium, they more than likely will be better off equipped with a screen lid rather than a grille.


Now there are some brand name cages out there that tend to be plastic and these will work fine but aren’t used much because sometime they have electrical cable holes that are often overlooked. Inspect them thoroughly and make sure that there are no holes your snake can get through when inspecting it. Young snakes seem to do ok in these plastic enclosures but remember, while the garter snake isn’t the strongest breed out there, it can push through moderately shut lids.


Also, if you plan on using something such as a rubber maid or some kind of container, then you’re going to want to thoroughly inspect the side of the containers and to inspect all around the area for any kind of holes that may be present. Overtime, dragging Rubbermaid or other containers across the ground may have created holes you didn’t even know existed. Especially when other huge containers stay stacked on top of them for so long, they can become cracked or have holes created in them.


Furniture/Decorations In The Cage

When it comes to decorations in the cage, some owners don’t have any and the garter snakes do just fine, but they really don’t require much as for furniture. All you ideally need is a cage that’s strategically placed in a place that’ll get the right temperature, some basic logs and some plants and you’ll more than likely do just fine. However, it gives a nice cosmetic appeal if you add some realistic looking things that appeal to the eyes in there. The snake really isn’t going to care though as long as it gets to eat and go about its day.


Really, the needs of a snake boil down to having a cage and having some water supply. Tying directly in with the decorations, the snakes only need a place to hide and they’ll be just fine. That’s really all they need to feel secure and most people call it a shelter but some people call it a hiding box. Your box or shelter will be relatively small and it will be solid enough to place inside of a cage. You don’t want it to fill the cage too much but you want it to be large enough so that the snake can curl up inside of it.


It’s hard to plan out but the best and most ideal hiding place is one where the snake can touch the sides of the hiding spot when it’s curled up but that’s a hard goal to achieve, so just stick with providing an adequate one to get the ball rolling. Most people like to use common and generic pet store doodads such as some logs or some boxes that they’ve cut holes into but you can make your own as well and make something creative. However if you decide to go with something such as cardboard or a box, you’ll have to replace it completely if it gets dirty because remember, those kinds of shelters can’t really be cleaned, they have to be replaced.


One of the other important features to have in a cage that’s absolutely essential is owning a water dish so that it has a steady supply to fresh and clean water. You need to make sure that the water never ever runs dry and that is to be kept fresh. You don’t want your snake drinking out of dirty water that it has been defecating into or that dead prey is floating around in, so change it accordingly with whenever you need to change it. The snake doesn’t only just drink from their water bowl, but when they feel the need to, they’ll go into the bowl to cool down as well, so keep a fresh supply of water.


When a snake feels overheated or they feel hot on a particular day, you might find them spending a good majority of their time just soaking in the water bowl. Garter snakes will often be found near aquatic conditions out in the wild but you don’t want to keep them in aquatic conditions inside of a cage, a water bowl will do just fine as the only source of water. The only thing that really brings them into the water in the wild is that their prey tends to go into the water, which is why they spend a good amount of time there in the wild.


One of your main concerns of the cage is keeping it dry because if you fail to keep a cage clean, then you might end up giving your snake blister disease which isn’t fun to treat. Newborn snakes however need to be carefully watched because what can happen with them is they can end up drying out which in turn may cause some shedding problems due to some dry air, which is something you’re going to need to keep an eye on. In this particular case, it might benefit you to provide what’s known as a humidity box inside the cage. All this is, is a box that contains some dampened moss which helps raise the humidity and keeps the snake a little moist. The best boxes for this purpose will have a hole on the top and on the bottom to help the cage as well.


Ideally other than that, anything else you add into the cage is purely cosmetic and you don’t actually have to do it. Things such as branches from trees, some rocks for cosmetic appeal and other things you can add in the cage are completely up to you and not necessary.



Substrate essentially is what will be covering the floor of the cage and it’s the material that you put on the bottom of the cage. There are so many different kinds of substrate out there that sometimes it can be hard to choose, especially for a brand new pet owner who knows nothing about the stuff. You have a wide variety of safe and perfectly efficient substrates for garter snakes, which range all the way from paper towels to even butcher’s paper. Basically, anything soil based or anything that would ideally fit inside of a terrarium will work.


Now, if you want to get fancy, you can even use things such as shavings which are aspen. However, the one thing you want never want to use is what’s known as cedar shavings because they’re harmful to snakes. Some people have even gone as far as adding indoor carpet looking substrate to their cage but I really don’t recommend this one because it’ll be highly difficult to clean and change all the time. Now you’re going to have to make a decision here between easy to clean and looking pretty.


When you have a naturalistic looking environment, it may look great from the outside but it’s not exactly fun to clean. However on the other hand, you have paper towel type substrate which looks awful but all you have to do clean it is simply pick it up. One of the drawbacks for lazy people when doing proper garter snake care is that they tend to expel their nutrients quite frequently and something you’re going to have to deal with when you own a garter snake is that they’re going to defecate a lot. For lazy people who refuse to change the substrate often and clean the cage will more than likely stink up the house and have to deal with the wretched smell it produces.


This is why a cage must be cleaned out quite frequently, so you’re going to have to pick between easy to clean or looking great. However, no matter what kind of substrate you’re using, the good news is that you’re not really going to have to change the cage more than once a week and that’s really it. Of course, If you’re housing more than one garter snake (which isn’t recommended for new owners), you’ll make some messes faster and might actually to clean the cage twice a week. One of the many other reasons that you’ll discover below which I prefer a mouse diet over the meal worm diet is because they’re not as messy and they don’t defecate as often.


Using paper towels really is the easiest way to substrate the cage and the easiest way to spot clean as well. It’s extremely easy to go through the cage and spot where the mess is when you have paper towels laid down. Also paper towels can be used to clean the glass as well and they’re relatively cheap at just about any kind of market or general store that you go to.



Now when it comes to temperature, all snakes and reptiles alike are going to be cold blooded, which is why keeping an optimal temperature is going to be one of the utmost importance. What being cold blooded essentially means is that they tend to need all the heat they can get in order to keep their metabolism high and in order to lose weight. They rely on temperature essentially to lose weight. When a snake becomes too cold, you’ll notice some behavior changes such as they’ll move around sluggish and they won’t be able to eat their food effectively.


You’ll notice that they may even regurgitate food which isn’t pretty to look at (this is just another word for throwing it up) and when a snake is pregnant, it’s absolutely essential that there’s enough warmth in the cage or enclosure to digest as much food as possible. While the room temperature might be at a certain temperature, the garter snake needs to be just a little warmer for it to function properly. If you live in a very heated area such as a home that requires constant air-conditioning or central cooling, then you’re going to have to make sure that it’s a little extra warm in the enclosure.


However, you need to make sure that it’s not too warm because when it gets too warm the opposite happens and they become depressed and may not eat or stop eating altogether. So you want to make sure that it’s vital to keep in touch with the correct temperatures. The ideal temperature inside of a snake’s enclosure is going to be anywhere from 75 degrees to 85 degrees at the high maximum for at least the garter snake. However, the reason you want differing temperatures in the cage is because you want the snake to have the option of cooling off or getting warm.


What this is called is a temperature gradient, where you make one area of the enclosure warmer than the other and the easiest way to do this is with an overhead light bulb. First and foremost, you never ever want to use hating rocks or what they call hot rocks as pet stores because this can have bad results for your pet. If your pet decides that a rock looks great and it wants to go on top of one, it will burn itself and potentially melt the snake if the rock is too hot. That’s why it’s better off just not going with any kind of “hot rock” no matter how much the pet store tries to pressure you into buying one.


Some of them may be placed inside of a plastic container but the problem with this is, nothing is stopping the snake from wrapping around the container and over time, it may acquire some burns from the rock and you’ll have one angry garter snake if this happens. Another thing you want to watch out for is direct sunlight because while in captivity they can’t handle direct sunlight as well as they could in the wild. They’re used to the room lighting and the overhead lighting that you’ve provided in the room when they’re born in captivity, they’re not used to the kind of light that you’re trying to give them when you expose them to direct sunlight.


Now, some people will say they prefer to use a heating pad under one side of the cage and while this does work, it can be a little more costly than your other options, so use it if you want. There is plenty of different commercial type heating pads out there or off brand pads that may cost a little less as well. Some people have said they’ve had success with electric blankets as well but I’ve never seen the point of these outside what people say about them. However, fluorescent bulbs will generate little to no heat when they’re turned to the lowest setting and they’re completely safe for snakes.


Now, you’re going to want a thermometer as well as this should be common sense. I’m not talking about going down to your local Wal-Mart and just getting the cheapest thermometer that you can find but you want to make sure you get a digital one so that you can take the most accurate results possible. Usually the more expensive ones will give you a better reading and a lot of them will stick right on the side of the enclosure. Generally, when you’re reading the temperatures of the enclosure, there’s really only two numbers that you should be looking for.


You want to make sure that it only goes to a minimum of 70 degrees and a high of 85 degrees. Some people say 87 is the optimal temperature on the hot side but this will vary from owner’s experience to others. You’ll have to find what works best for you and what’s easiest to maintain in your particular case. However, don’t let the temperature get anywhere near 90 degrees or over because this is when the temperature starts to become potentially dangerous and might end up killing your snake.


Now what most snakes including the garter snake do when they’re just too hot is they like to escape to a water dish which I hope you haven’t placed in the hot section of the gradient or else you might be making the water too warm to serve its purpose. It’s fairly easy to tell when a snake is overheating because it’ll just run around the cage with its mouse open kind of like it’s in a race, so you should get it into water immediately if you see it doing this.



Feeding a garter snake seems to be one of the most commonly asked questions in the community and a lot of people give the wrong answers. A lot of people who work in pet stores who just guess or the people on various forums who insist they just eat crickets are wrong. There are quite a few different things that the garter snake can eat but there are also some things you need to watch for, which is why you must be careful what you feed it.


The first things we’re going to discuss are mealworms which I highly do not recommend. First of all, if you feed your garter snake mealworms, then you’re going to have to make sure you’re cutting up the mealworms into segments and that’s not enough to reduce the serious risks that come with mealworms. Bad mealworms are one of the top reasons that your snake may come down with a parasite infection which is covered in the health section of this guide. Once your snake has a parasite infection it’s almost nearly impossible to get rid of them in some cases.


Sure, there’s medicine available and there’s surgical options available, but this is only available in special cases, is expensive and the medicine more often than not plain doesn’t work. When you’re dealing with a parasite infection, they’ll try to push medicine on the snake but it more than likely will have no effect or the parasites will keep coming back. So it’s really advised that you stay away from mealworms just for that reason alone. However, that’s not the only reason I advise you to stay away from them.


The second reason is that they’re not very high in vitamins or nutrients that helps keep your snake alive. So what’s the most recommended and top food that you should be feeding your garter snake? The answer is simply mice and you can go about this in two different ways. First, you can feed your snake live mice which has some risks on their own and they can be filled with parasites but you should be alight f they’re captive bred and taken care of.


However, the safer and better option is thawed mice. Sure, some snakes will prefer to have live food that they can chase down and hunt, but it’s much better to be safe and rid the food of all potential parasites living inside of it rather than to feed it live mice and run that risk. As we said, getting rid of parasites is often complicated and most of the time it doesn’t work.


There’s also a fish platter, but I highly do not recommend utilizing this because it’s one of the highest rates of parasitic infection, so it’s best to steer clear of it. Feeding can be done once a week once they’re fully grown adults or once every couple of days ideally but when they’re just babies, you’re going to want to make sure you’re feeding them every single day because they require constant nutrients. Don’t try to feed them any kind of food that’s too large to swallow or that common sense would rule out.


Vitamins are a very touch and go subject with garter snake care because while some people recommend them, there’s an equal amount of people who can tell you they’re really not necessary. However, this will really depend on the diet and the eating habits of the snake, so if you’re feeding earthworms to the garter snake, then you should be wary because they’re very deficient in calcium. Your snakes won’t be getting a correct amount of calcium in their diet if you’re only feeding them earthworms, and if you’re feeding them fish fillet, it’s not going to be anywhere near complete on the nutrition scale.


Now while it’s not absolutely necessary because they survive in the wild just fine without it, but if you want to ensure that your pet is the healthiest it can be, then you might want to consider adding some natural minerals to it’ diet, considering that it’s living off of fish or mealworms. Really though, you only need to do this a mere once or even twice a month as it isn’t really required at all and they get this benefit from most other meal groups.


If you’re looking for the best maximum results, then you’re going to want to use a combination of Vitamin B1, some calcium that usually comes in powder form and some Vitamin D3. These will be the most helpful to your snake and to ensure they grow up at a healthy rate and stay healthy. There are multiple stores and sources around the internet for purchasing these multi-vitamins and you have to carefully select which one you want to use based on the vitamin that you’re feeding to the snake.


It’s been said in more recent reports that if you try to use calcium on earthworms, it kills them instead of just sticking onto them and being used as a meal, so if you’re feeding the pet earthworms, you really don’t have to worry about calcium. However, you might be able to keep them alive long enough to be eaten if you simply just sprinkle some powder on them rather than dragging them through it and covering them with it. This should be done immediately before feeding, but if you decide to feed vitamins to other types of food, you might have to wait 24 hours for the vitamins to digest to feed them to the garter snakes.


With all vitamins though, you want to impose limits on how much vitamins your pets are taking because while you really can’t overdose on vitamins, you’ll create more waste than necessary and you’ll just be spending more money than necessary on these things.


Health Issues

One thing that you need to be on the lookout for is potential health issues that may come up so hopefully all of those can be addressed here and all of the common issues and health problems that may be encountered while doing basic garter snake care. Some of these health issues will include some vitamin decencies, the dreaded parasites no pet owner likes, blister disease and some potential shedding problems that you might run into.


However, you might want to check with your health provider or vet on other possible health conditions because this is just a small sample of the most common health problems and there are many more out there where this one came from. There’s not a lot of decent health professionals out there that deal with snakes but you’ll have to do a search in your local area or online to find a decent one on your budget. The most serious problem that you need to be aware of and that you need to know how to react to is easily parasites.


Garter snake care requires a good deal of knowledge about parasites because it’s a common problem and it’s the most life threatening issue with almost all breed of snakes. Even in some other type of exotic pets, it’s a common problem to have to deal with parasites, but thankfully, dealing with them is relatively easy if you know how to spot the signs. This is the main reason why I never prefer or recommend anyone to feed their pet snake any kind of earthworms or fish because this is the main reason they contract parasites.


This is also the main carrier of parasites as well, and it’s usually almost a guarantee if you spend a lifetime feeding off of earthworms that you will encounter parasites every once in a while. However, in a recent study it was revealed that all wild caught amphibians were easily the number one carrier of parasites and spreaders as well. Also, you should probably stray away from live fish while in captivity because depending where they came from and how well they’re taken care of, they can be carrying parasites as well.


Now what kind of infections are we talking here? Well, there are quite a few different microorganisms out there that could potentially infect your pet such as a virus, some bacteria or even protozoan. Feeding your snake live fish usually isn’t that common though so if you notice a sudden parasite infection and your garter snake’s main diet consists of earth worms, then it’s more than likely you’ve already found the culprit. The key is to catch them before they can do what they do best and that is infect the body from the inside out. What they’re going to do early on is try to burrow into the snake’s lung. However, sometimes this process takes years and you don’t even know its happening.


It’s very difficult to predict when this will happen or how it happens but it’s definitely something you need to watch for because over the years it could be just working and burrowing its way into your snake’s lung. It could’ve been living inside of your snake for months or even years without your knowledge that anything was wrong.


One of the earliest signs that should warrant a trip to the veterinarian is the small little lumps all along the snake’s body that will appear just right under the skin. You’ll notice that it almost appears as if it’s pressed up the skin and this will be your number one sign of evidence and any skilled veterinarian who has experience working with a garter snake should be able to remove it before it becomes an issue or decides to dig its way deeper. How these are removed is simply by making a small little incision in the snake and then the worm will be pulled out and while this sounds relatively painful and serious, it’s far better to make a small hole and save its life rather than to wait for years or months down the road.


This means that the worm has successfully migrated out of the lung and that your snake may continue to live freely again. However, the more serious route is if the worm has decided to make its way and stay inside of the lung because there actually is no way to remove a worm from the lung of a snake or else it’ll kill it. Once you have a living worm in there doing damage, there’s only one thing that’s worse believe it or not and that’s having a dead worm inside of the lung because now you know for sure there’s absolutely no way to get it out.


Some people have reported that these parasitic worms can even grow up to be two feet long inside of a snake. That’s just downright scary when you think about it and if you ever encounter a worm that makes it past the six inch point, your snake has a very slim chance of living. You’ll also notice as another symptom that you might see some swelling around the lung region and it’ll become inflamed. The worm’s presence basically causes this and it’s something that you need to look out for. Another sign that you need to be cautious for or look out for is that the snake might make a slight popping sound when it tries to breathe.


Sometimes however with some parasites is that there are absolutely no symptoms at all and it can just continuously keep growing without anything you can do about it. That’s one of the downfalls of garter snake care and taking care of them because they can handle worms a lot better than other species can and you might never actually know the snake ever had a worm until it dies. Really, the main problem with a parasitic infection is, that there can be no sign or warning between the point of ingesting the food that causes the problem and the actual infection.


So you might from eating a mealworm to having a worm in the snake’s lung in a matter of one year without ever even noticing it, which is why I would highly recommend just staying away from feeder fish or mealworms. Also, if you have a batch of garter snakes that you’re breeding together then you might want to keep a close eye on all of them, especially if one of them gets sick from a batch that all of them have eaten from.


Another condition you’ll need to be familiar with that you’ll not be able to do anything about is known as SGSDS (sudden garter snake death syndrome). There’s nothing you can do about it and there’s nothing you can really do to predict it or to fix it. Some people believe that these deaths are the result of parasites and some people believe that these are the result of people improperly handling their snakes inside the enclosure and letting them live in poor conditions.


There are however, some de-worming medications out there on the market if you suspect something may be wrong with your snake or if you see any signs that a parasite infection may be beginning to take form. You shouldn’t wait and delay anytime soon, make sure that they get the medicine soon. However, just be warned that some of these worms have been proven to be resistant to the treatment options even the medicines. The best way to avoid this altogether is to feed your snake some de-thawed captivity mice and you’ll be free of any risk of parasites.


Another thing you’ll want to be familiar with is vitamin deficiency. You’ll notice the plain and clear symptoms such ass loss of coordination and you’ll notice the motor control is a bit sketchy as well as it moves around slowly and in a random pattern. At first, once you start first noticing the signs, there’s really nothing too serious about this however, if you let this go on long enough, it can be highly fatal so you don’t want to let it go on for too long or to the point of having a serious deficiency.


You have a couple of different treatment options for vitamins, and you can either start gut loading your food or start giving them some B1 vitamin injections. Commonly, people like to go with gut loading because it’s far less expensive and it’s pretty effective, but you won’t notice any symptom changes right away, they’ll take time as the vitamins kick in and boost the immune system. Also, that’s another benefit to calcium vitamins as well; they’ll boost the immune system against infections as well.



Hibernation or otherwise known as “brumation” which is the word for when reptiles go into hibernation is different than other animals. You see for the garter snake and for all reptiles, when they go into hibernation, they’re not going to be living off of the fat reserves that they eat prior to hibernation, but instead they’re going to be living solely off their metabolism. The metabolism of the animal will be completely temperature dependent and during the course of hibernation, this slows down drastically because when it gets closer to winner, you’ll notice that your snake has less energy.


Basically, the snake doesn’t really do much and it’s very cold out. During hibernation, the snake will still be awake and it’ll still be moving but it’ll be moving at a very sluggish pace compared to how quick it usually moves around and how active it usually is. The metabolism slows down to a very low level and the snake won’t really lose any weight, which is why it’s able to hold that last meal inside of it for so long and to harness that energy immediately when hibernation starts.


Now, the main question for new garter snake care enthusiasts or owners all over is that they wonder if it’s absolutely necessary to hibernate their snakes. While a lot of reptiles will require this process, the garter snake will not. It’s not really a requirement and a lot of people have no problem keeping them warm throughout the winter without having to go through that entire process and there are usually no negative side effects as a result. However, during a couple of different situations you might find that it’s absolutely necessary to brumate your garter snake. While it may be true that most garter snakes stay warm and hungry throughout the winter so that you don’t have to worry about it, there’s a few things you have to look for.


For instance, if you plan on breeding your snakes, then during hibernation is the best time and most optimal time to do it, because it’s a necessary step and part of the process. This is ideal because it boosts the fertility and the success rate of breeding. Also, after hibernation, usually this is during the springtime, but when you bring them out of hibernation, they know that it’s around the time of the year to begin the mating process. However, this will depend on a snake by snake basis so you’ll have to keep an eye on it and sometimes they aren’t going to give you much of a choice.


Sometimes, garter snakes will go into hibernation on their own and you’ll notice that instead of jumping at food as usual, their enthusiasm and energy has decreased and they may come to a halt on eating. This will ideally happen before the fall and it’ll be very noticeable when it does happen. Why this happens is, the snake knows that it’s time to stop eating because of several things going on in the room. It knows that fall is around the corner because of the light changing and the temperature in the enclosure present during the day. One thing you need to know about garter snake care, is that they’re very perceptive.


Sometimes you’ll have some problem feeders in the fall but in some odd cases, they may start eating again after a month. If this is the case, then all you have to simply do is offer the snake something else it would rather have. In all the other cases, you will more than likely have to hibernate them in order to ensure their survival or get ready for the breeding process. Why exactly do snakes stop eating during or before hibernation? Being cold blooded requires the right temperature in order to digest your food and in order to remain healthy while eating in an environment.


If a snake is too cold and finds the conditions too cold, it won’t be able to digest it’s food which is why it goes into hibernation early usually with one last large meal in its stomach. However, before the snake even has a chance to digest it, it will more than likely putrefy. This is why you want to make sure that they don’t in fact have anything in their stomachs before they burrow or go into hibernation because you don’t want them to have any side effects from keeping good but sometimes you can’t help it.


Now it doesn’t really matter who starts the hibernation process, whether it’s you or the snake, the process is relatively easy and not something you really should be too concerned with. The first step is to stop feeding the snake if they haven’t stopped eating on their own and they’re continuing to eat the food you put in the enclosure. Then you want to wait a solid to three weeks so that all of the food gets out of the garter snake’s system and the process can begin shortly after.


Now, this part may not be the most sanitary or fun, but what you want to do to ensure that all of the system is cleared out before hibernation is to give the snake a bath in some mildly warm water and what this does essentially is encourages the snake to defecate into the water clearing out its system. Ideally all you have to do then is find a place that’s going to have a cold enough temperature. Perhaps right near a window with a nice draft will do the trick or you might even make use of a fan if you have one available. In most of North America, Winter alone will be cold enough to start hibernation unless your house is always at a crazy temperature like 85 degrees.


Some people report that the absolute highest end of hibernation can be at around 55 to 60 degrees and even that is debatable. You could even go to 40 degrees without injuring or hurting them, which is more than likely more ideal than the reported 60 degrees.



Now, a lot of people are afraid of snakes and refuse to touch them but you shouldn’t be too worried because a lot of them are actually quite docile and easy to work with. They’re easy to be around and while they may become uneasy at first, they’re generally easy to handle. Part of garter snake care is taking care of it well and if you do this, then they’ll be easy to handle, but if they’re stressed out or underfed, then they may present some issues when you try.


The garter snake in general is known as a very gentle creature when it’s kept in captivity or when it’s captive bred. They really don’t mind when their owners or people try to handle them and all it boils down to really is, picking them up and letting them slither about inside of your hands to get used to you. Now, while you may be frightened because of your experience with other snakes, it’s highly important to remember that garter snakes are not constrictors like a python or a boa is.


Their first line of defense isn’t going to be to squeeze you to death like some species of snakes can and will do when they’re frightened. So if you have any experience holding a python, a boa or a corn snake, then you might be a little concerned and anxious, but I assure you the snake is just as frightened or anxious too and more than likely isn’t going to try to attack anything. So with that in mind, this means two things when you’re handling a garter snake.


First, you have to make sure you’re giving it more support as it requires more. It’s not going to be able to hang on the same way as a breed that constricts will and will have trouble staying in your hands above the ground if you don’t support it. You need to pay more attention to the snake you’re holding and you need to ensure that it doesn’t take a fall to the ground because depending on where you’re standing may hurt a little bit. So for this reason, until you’re used to the snake, it’s best to sit down on the floor and handle it in your hands slightly above the ground.


Second, unlike other species of snakes that will like to curl around your hands or curl around your fingers, the garter snake will tend to slither through your fingers because of how agile they are. Sometimes, they’ll zig zag through your hands if you hold them out in that motion or they’ll even go through your fingers in a zig zag like motion, it’s really fun to watch and see. If you find some garter snakes out in the wild, you’ll notice that while they may be frightened, they’re super easy to pick up and the same two rules apply, make sure you’re holding them gently because they have trouble hanging onto surfaces like the palm of a human’s hand.


The majority of garter snakes are quite tame and it’s not going to take much time getting used to, you’ll be able to pick them up right away without any complications but there’s always that exception. For instance, there are some garter snakes that tend to not be tame and tend to be the anti-social kind of snake. You have to accept the fact that if your snake isn’t getting used to human exposure and isn’t handling being held very well even after weeks or months of practice, it more than likely never will get used to you.


However, it’s still necessary to learn how to handle these snakes because there will be times that it’s mandatory to remove them from their cages such as when you’re going to feed them or when you’re going to clean the cage, which will happen quite a few times. This kind of snake may present a bit of a challenge to you but this isn’t how all garter snakes are and this is actually quite rare to encounter a garter snake like this, it’s more commonly know that they enjoy being handled and are quite fond of it once they’re used to the person doing the handling.


Reacting To A Garter Snake That’s Scared

If you’re handling a scared garter snake, then there might be a few possible scenarios here and a few different ways that your snake may act if it becomes frightened or just plain doesn’t want to be picked up at all. Again, remember that if any of these reactions occur, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your snake hates you; it just means that it needs more time to get used to you and it’s becoming frightened, that’s all. However, sometimes it means that your snake is trying to send you a clear signal that it does not want to be handled.


First, they may thrash wildly in your hands due to the shock and the scared factor. Most owners who have experienced this type of thrashing sort of experience it as a crocodile’s death roll. This is where it will be more important than ever to provide support and to make sure that the snake isn’t going to fly out of your hands or drop to the ground. It may be scary at first as the snake starts rolling around, but that’s just it trying to escape because it doesn’t like what’s happening, keep a firm grip on it and keep it steady.


Now, the next one is a little bit more disgusting and it’ll do what’s known as musking on you. If your garter snake absolutely doesn’t want to be picked up, it may musk on you and you’ll know when this happens because you’ll smell this very foul and sour odor that comes out of the snake. Also, it’ll make sure to discharge any kind of feces that it’s been saving up for you, so it’s not a very pleasant experience. It may be disheartening to smell but this isn’t serious and shouldn’t cause any complications so all you really have to do is wash it off when you’re done handling it.


The next one which is the most serious is where it could potentially bite you depending on how scared it is and how much it’s been handled lately. A lot of factors go into the snake’s decision to bite but ideally, they don’t really bite that much or at all. This rarely happens and is rarely reported as happening so the odds or possibilities of this happening are very low. Bites commonly aren’t serious and it’ll more than likely thrash about and leave musk in your hands before it considers biting you, they’re not aggressive by nature.


Now, if the snake does happen to hang on or bite you, then what you want to do is follow these essential steps. First, identify where the head is and where the teeth are because what you’re going to want to do is push the head forward so that you let the teeth out. Garter snake care is important when getting them off of you after a bite because their heads are extremely fragile and you could injure their mouth if you tend to press too hard. Biting you is more deadly for the snake than it is for you, because it could cause a mouth infection which might be expensive to treat.


When a snake is biting self-defense though, it usually doesn’t even attempt to hang on; it usually just gives a quick strike then goes on about their business. It’s kind of like a kitten that doesn’t want to be held, it’ll claw at your hand not because it hates you because it doesn’t want to be held. Now, some people believe that biting may occur because they sometimes think your hand is food and they’re not being fed like they should which may be true if you handle your garter snake right before or right after a meal. Avoid those times and give it plenty of time to digest a meal before picking it up.


The most serious thing anyone has ever reported is that they’ve ended up having some skin reactions to the saliva from the garter snake. Really this boils down to certain allergies and some people in the past said they have had medical conditions where they required a trip to the ER because of a garter snake bite but most of these are due to bites inducing allergic reactions that they didn’t even know they had. There’s a particular gland on the garter snake that make scientists and zookeepers believe that the saliva from a garter snake is potentially toxic but only from an allergic reaction. 

Corn Snake Care Sheet



This is obviously the first step to owning a corn snake or to owning any kind of reptile. You need to ensure that you have a proper structure that will fit any kind of animal you plan to put inside of it and in this case, we’re going to shop for the perfect cage for a corn snake. First and foremost, you want to make sure that the enclosure has a very tight fitting enclosure for a couple of reasons.

Number one, you want to make sure that your snake isn’t going to escape outside of the enclosure which can and does happen. Even a corn snake can slither its way out of an enclosure that looks too small to slide out of. Not a lot of people believe it can happen until they check the cage the next morning just to find that their snake is missing in action. Corn snakes are natural escape artists as are most slithery reptiles.

One of the most common causes of a snake going missing is carelessness or an owner thinking “ah hell, it’s not that big of a hole, it can’t get out of there.” It’s simple mistakes like that , that cause the snake to go missing through your house and no matter how much you love snakes, I’m not sure anyone loves the idea of a corn snake sliding around through their house unknown on their whereabouts. The next thing you’ll want to make sure of is that they have efficient air ventilation in their caging but not too much.

Some caging is bad for corn snakes because of the amount of over-ventilation that it has. When you have cages with way too much open space, you’ll run into the problem of over-ventilation which can cool a snake down way too much. This can have deadly consequences if you’re not careful because a corn snake requires a certain temperature to grow at an optimal rate and to remain healthy. More importantly, most snakes like the corn snake will only eat at a certain temperature as well which affects their mood.

Cages with screen sides may not be recommended by some but they can be used successfully as long as you have proper heating inside of the cage which will be covered in the heating section of the guide. However, if you don’t like the idea of screen sides or open cages, then you might want to consider getting an aquarium style caging system that has ventilation on top of the cage, which seems to be a preferred choice among many in the reptile community. Now, for the hatchlings, you’re going to want a different size than the mature adults but it’s not a bad idea to start with a mature cage (as some say not to do).

For your hatchling corn snakes, the ideal size for a small enclosure is generally going to be 12 x 8 inches. You’ll want to make sure that it’s at least a minimum of 3 inches tall but honestly, what enclosure for snakes isn’t 3 inches tall? I would personally recommend something that is at least 5 or 8 inches tall at a minimum but with the higher height, you’ll also have the more heating requirements and more maintenance that you’ll have to do as well, so it’s up to you what kind of cage system you want to provide.

These length cages and ventilation will be suitable until they reach up to 2 feet in length and during that time, it may be time to upgrade. However, the benefit you have with the larger tanks is that you’re going to have two separate areas where you can distinctly cool off and heat up the aquarium at the same time. With the smaller cages, it’s going to be harder to do so because of the confined space and it’ll be much harder to set two distinct different areas to heat up or cool down the cage. So while a large cage may be intimidating and seem like a great idea, it’s probably best to start with the smallest cage that you can get away with.

Also, if you’re a new owner, it’s recommended that you get the minimum sized cage you can until you get used to the maintenance involved in cleaning them and keeping them in order as well. Just remember, if there’s a hole or gap the size of a corn snake’s snout, then it will more than likely be able to slide out of it and escape, so for this reason, it’s very important that you make sure they can’t escape or that there’s no holes. Run your fingers along some questionable areas of the cage and do a thorough check before hand, before making any kind of purchase decisions.


Shelter will be one of the key and essential tools to help not only keep your cage clean but to keep your pet healthy as well for a couple of reasons. To really understand what makes a great shelter, you have to understand why a shelter is necessary in the first place. When it comes to providing shelter to any animals period, you have to consider a few different things such as location, the type of shelter used and what kind of animal they are. For the sake of this article, we’ll be discussing utilizing the best shelter available for the corn snake.

First, there’s the kind of shelter you can buy directly from the store and this is obviously the most common type of shelter. There are many different models of shelter you can purchase from the store, and some may be better than others or at least more appealing to look at. So what are some of the different aspects you should consider before purchasing or crafting shelter? First, you have to consider whether or not cosmetic appeal has any influence on you. Are you looking to build a cage for your corn snake that resembles a certain theme or looks good? Or rather, are you just trying use whatever works?

If you’re trying to create a distinct and certain theme for example, say a Jungle theme, then you’re probably going to want something that resembles what shelter might look like in a jungle. The most common choice for these types of cages are the log shelters that are relatively cheap or you can make one yourself with a small tree trunk. However, if you have a desert theme, you might want to go with a building or a sand dune for your shelter, it’s all about what looks relative to you.

So while there are plenty of options available for you to buy shelter, you also have other options available for you as well in terms of crafting. Don’t worry, this isn’t some lengthy or hard art project, these can be done with some common household objects you more than likely have laying around or a pair of scissors.

One option you have is to take an empty milk jug and to cut out one side of it. Leaving 50% of the jug in-tact, you can then cover the jug with masking tape or duct tape and paint it black. After it’s completely dry, you can then put it inside the cage and you have a shelter. Obviously, make sure that the opening hole to get into the shelter is large enough for the snake to get into, but don’t make it too large so that a lot of light gets into it. A lot of snakes don’t really like light or natural lighting. The light makes them angry and distresses them if they’re in it for a long period of time.

You can also take a cereal box and use that as shelter as well. You don’t have to paint it black or do anything special to it, but I recommend doing something or else you’ll be staring at “Trix” for a while until you replace it. All you have to do is cut a hole on the lid of cereal box to allow the corn snake to get into the box and use the place as shelter. You don’t have to necessarily cut out a bottom but it’s preferred because you want that substrate to be under the snake and not the bottom of the box. There’s no real wrong way to provide shelter as long as you’re providing adequate shelter that will hide it from the light.

They also need a place to go during hibernation and when they’re breeding, so having shelter is essential. Without shelter, you could be potentially killing your pets slowly as they will stop eating due to depression and over longed exposure to sunlight.


Picking the best possible housing for your pets is something that many new corn snake owners find difficult because it’s hard to imagine the perfect house for a snake. When you imagine where a snake lives, you imagine a jungle in the middle of nowhere, and a snake sliding along, just killing rodents and hiding in logs. There are a lot of different aspects that go into owning a corn snake because like all other animals, when they’re separated from the wild, their needs to survive go up.

Housing is one of the most important aspects of keeping them healthy because with inadequate housing you face a lot of serious risks to you and the pet. First off, if you have any kind of gaping holes or gaps anywhere in the housing or caging, then you might be running the risk of losing your pet overnight. Snakes are very sneaky creatures and just like the rodents they eat, they can slide through just about anything as long as there’s an opportunity present.

Your housing needs to have a few different essential things to make sure that you’re building a house that will not only grow a mature corn snake but make sure he grows up to be healthy as well.

First is length, as we discussed in the caging section, you need to make sure the housing area is adequate in length for the corn snake to move around and not be curled up in a ball due to lack of space. If you ever have any doubts about how much space the corn snakes are going to need, just go by this general rule of thumb: they should be at least twice the length of the corn snake and at least 5 inches high by recommendation. Everyone might have their own recommendation but it’s preferred to have a little bit of room off the ground should you have to use multiple heating lamps and to prevent overheating.

Next which is covered in a different guide is substrate and the environment. While the majority of the environment is cosmetic only, meaning you can pretty much set it up to however you like, there are some smart choices you can make here that may make the life of your pet better. First of all, you’ll have your water which should be placed closed to the shelter and be in the cool spot of the tank, and you’ll have your other areas of the cage that you’ve setup which can be setup to whatever your liking is. It’s not required to setup your water near your shelter but it’s just a better layout.

Setting up the housing layout generally falls into, whatever looks best to you and there’s no right and wrong way to do it. Some people will prefer one way and some people will prefer another.


Heating is essentially the most important part of taking care of a corn snake because without adequate or proper heating, it could die or stop eating which could lead to death. This is why it’s nearly essential to make sure that you have the correct heating precautions and parameters in place. The first thing you need to know about corn snakes is that they’re what’s called ectothermic. Basically what this means is, they don’t exactly have the ability to create their own body heat or they lack the ability to which is a fatal flaw in the animal world.

So basically what that boils down to is, they prefer to live in humid clients to keep them warm or they depend on their owner when they’re in captivity to make sure that they stay in a healthy environment. When it comes to their metabolism, this is directly effected by the temperature around them and plays a huge role in determining how much they’ll lose or gain with weight. In order to facilitate the proper metabolism required for a healthy corn snake or a snake period, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re providing the best and most accurate temperature according to the guide.

Cold blooded really often refers to how people describe snakes but they’re usually called cold blooded because when you touch them, they’re primarily cold in nature. When snakes were first discovered, it wasn’t until they were first handled that people discovered they lacked the ability to create their own body heat. Also, the fact they tend to like and live in warm climates also attributed to this speculation as well. One of the most interesting things about a corn snake is that even if your cage is the appropriate temperature, you’ll notice that if you handle or touch them, they feel cold to the touch.

When they’re indoors, the common outer skin temperature for a corn snake is about 90 degrees and can range up to 95 degrees. For this reason, a lot of new pet owners are misguided into thinking that their snakes are cold and should be placed in a more heated environment. No matter how hot it is in your cage, they’re going to feel cold to the touch, that’s just their general nature. In fact, when they’re warm and feel cold to the touch, this is the ideal condition for eating, raising their appetite and ingesting food.

One of the main tools you have to make sure that heating is appropriate will be the monitor and the thermometer. Also, it’s advised that you pick up a hand held temperature gun but some owners don’t use one. It’s not absolutely required but if you want to make sure that their shelter is cool and that one area of the cage is cooler than the other, then it’s highly recommended. A snake’s eyelids are known to protect them from harmful UV light and it bothers them as well. They can’t stand being in the light too long.

The perfect or at least ideal temperature to have inside of a cage is usually anywhere from 80 to 84 degrees at least for the corn snake. There are a few different areas of placement where you can stick thermometers but you also have to make sure you have the best thermometer for the job as well. When it comes to heating your corn snake, you’re going to become familiar with two different terms which are UT and OT. UT refers to Under Tank and OT refers to Over Tank which refers to the locations at which your corn snakes will receive heat from. However, it’s recommended that at least for the corn snakes, you use what’s known as UT heating. This is because it’s more accurate than OT heating and they receive a better portion of the heat to their body from the bottom of the cage.

It’s different for different breed of snakes and owners but for the corn snake, it’s better off to recommend that you use UT methods. However, there’s nothing wrong with using over tank heating methods and you can use heat lamps to successfully raise a corn snake without any issues. You’ll notice that on some particularly cool days or during the cooler season, they like to play in the light more and that they like to be out of their shelter when they’re not hibernating but for a good majority of the year, they’ll be lying where it’s cool.

When monitoring the temperature of the under tank heater, you want to make sure that the glass on top of the heater doesn’t exceed over 120 degrees. However, if this does go a little bit over, it shouldn’t be of great concern, because your snake more than likely isn’t going to lie down on top of the heather, so it should be alright. While some owners have complained that other breed of snakes like to burrow down too close to the heaters and have died from doing such things, it’s never been a concern for the corn snake as there’s not really any occurrences of them burning themselves or getting too close to a under tank heater.


The primary reason and goal of substrate is to absorb any kind of fecal matter that the snake leaves behind and it’s also used to absorb spilled water. Now people on a tight budget have their own little recipe and methods for making substrate, or some people even use substrate, but one of the great things about corn snakes or snakes in general is that you can use a pretty wide variety of different substrates without any harmful effects or negative consequences except for one particular type of substrate.

There’s one and only one type of substrate that you should never use for any kind of snake ever and that’s the cedar substrate. If any material of the substrate you’re considering has cedar in it, then you need to put it back and find something else because what cedar essentially does to your snake is gives off toxic chemicals and will be lethal to your pet in little time. So it’s highly recommended that unless you prefer shopping for new pets, that you stay away from using cedar substrate.

Not only does substrate make an amazing absorbent but some substrates are known to help with the awful smell that can come with fecal matter that’s just been building up. Some people prefer to use newspapers for this and while that’s fine, I definitely don’t recommend using this as a method of substrate if you’ve happened to use an under tank heater because, well you do the math. A 120 degree heater sitting there all day lit under some newspaper is just a recipe for disaster. Your issue might be a bit bigger than the snake being harmed if that 120 degrees happens to catch that newspaper on fire, so you might want to use some common sense while choosing substrate in accordance with your cage setup.

Also, among the cedar list there are two other substrates you don’t want to use especially for corn snakes. Those would be sand or gravel. There are actually quite a few decent reasons and solid logic behind the disallowance of using sand or gravel as substrate for snakes. First of all, they’re not absorbent and they aren’t going to help you much in collecting fecal matter but they sure will stick out like a sore thumb. Have you ever seen fecal matter in gravel or in sand? It sticks out but it doesn’t exactly conceal or absorb it very well.

Another reason not to use sand or gravel with corn snakes is because they’re prone to ingesting the gravel or sand and due to their size, this could be harmful. Imagine if one of the sharp rocks from the gravel got caught in the throat of the snake, you’d be purchasing a new snake. Also, sand doesn’t mix well with sunlight and can actually blind your pet if they’re very sensitive to sunlight such as the corn snake. It’s not that they can’t handle sunlight but they’re on the ground all day with their eyes only a mere inch or less from the ground and that UV light is reflected.

While some snakes can handle sand, it’s not recommended for corn snakes. So what’s the best recommendation for corn snakes and what’s the best recommendation for the majority of snakes? Mulch is more than likely your best and most preferred choice for snakes. Mulch is very cheap, economic and cost effective and it’s healthy for the tank as well. Not only that, but it’ll help make maintenance easy as well. Mulch absorbs fecal matter, excrement or anything else in the cage that shouldn’t be in there quite well. You won’t ever have to worry much about cleaning the cage because it’s really easy with mulch.


When it comes to feeding your pet corn snake, they don’t diff much from most snakes, so they’re going to prefer that you have some live bait for them. While they can eat non-live bait, some snakes are known to refuse to eat and stop eating period if you try to slowly get them off live bait and switch them to dead bait. They prefer the activity and the hunt because in the wild, that’s how they have to get their food and while they may be born in captivity, every animal still has that nature instinct.

However, if you think feeding your corn snake birds or other wild animals is a good idea then you might want to think again, because not only might these things have infections but you have no idea what kind of parasites might be living inside of these animals. Also, some people are under the false impression that you can just freeze a rodent that was captured in the wild and that will kill off any toxins or infections that a rodent previously had and this simply is not true. If you do this, all you’re doing is making it very cold and you’re not making a very appetizing or appealing meal to the snake.

So freezing something doesn’t necessarily actually render a wild caught rodent harmless to a corn snake, all it’s doing is freezing it. Basically, if there was any kind of infection or toxin within that animal when you froze it, the infection will more than likely have remained inside and could possible infect your corn snake when ingested. This isn’t to say that your snake will be infected guaranteed if you feed it live wild life food because they eat like this when they’re in the wild. However, when they’re brought up in captivity, they’re not used to eating anything from the wild life and this should be avoided. That’s why it’s recommended to only feed them live captivity rodents.

However, some people have reported that their snake is refusing to eat some domestic live rodents and if this is the case with yours, then you should probably consult a snake breeder or a veterinarian to see what can be done. Also, you might benefit from giving it vitamins in the meantime to ensure that it’s getting all the necessary nutrients while you try to get it to eat live rodents.

When you’re trying to figure out what size rodent you should be feeding to your snake, there’s usually a good thumb of rule to follow here and that is that you shouldn’t feed something twice the diameter of the snake’s body girth. Also, without the proper temperature present, you might have trouble getting your pet to ingest some rodents and might regurgitate the rodent, which I assure you is not very appealing or good to look at. However, when you first receive your snake or while raising them, you want to feed them something that’s 1/2 a size smaller than the recommended while it gets used to everything.

Corn snakes learn very quickly and adapt very quickly as well. When you buy a new corn snake, they’re going to be stressed by the transportation and the surroundings of the snake might be confusing at first because they were just taken from one home and put into another one. Also, before feeding the snake full sized meals, you want to monitor the temperature of the cage and make sure that it’s up to standard before you start feeding full sized meals in order to avoid regurgitation.


All animals alike including the corn snake require drinking water and water in general to help keep them cold. The two areas I’d like to cover are drinking water and misting water which technically could be covered in temperature but I feel is a separate issue than the general temperature of the environment. First, there’s one of the most important aspects of owning any pet, and that’s providing them with a clean suitable source of water at all times, whether it’s for drinking or cooling off.

Drinking water should be relatively clean and shouldn’t be something that you yourself wouldn’t dare touch. A good general rule to live by when you’re raising or own a corn snake is, if you look at the water bowl and think to yourself “absolutely disgusting”, then it’s more than likely time to change the bowl because that’s the water that you’re making your corn snake drink and rest in. Reptiles in general don’t generally like to rest in or around water that much but there are a few exceptions and a few breeds do enjoy it.

Inspect your water daily when you’re doing your daily maintenance or at least check it every couple of days to make sure that it’s still safe and sanitary. There are a few different risks you run for your corn snake or any pets you have that drink dirty water. First, there are droppings or excrement that might get into the bowl or water. It’s not an ideal place for pets to let loose their dropping but it’s not exactly like they mean to do it every time and it’s hard to teach reptiles exactly where to go, so this does happen. If you do notice droppings inside the water, then just be sure to give them a new bowl of water and try to setup the habitat a little better so that they’ll go elsewhere.

Second, if you feed your pets live rats or live bait, some of them might scurry into the water and leave their own mess behind. Now, while in general, these live baits are usually gotten from a pet shop, if you did obtain some from the wild or elsewhere, then you don’t know what exactly that rodent had and what it could have left in the water, so it’s best to clean it out. Corn snakes generally are only going to eat captive bred rodents as a recommendation but this is just a better safe than sorry approach.

Where should you place your bowl and the water? You want to make sure that the bowl is somewhere in the habitat that it can reach easily and it should also be placed on the cool section of the habitat. It will be rather humid and hot in the rest of the habitat so right next to the shelter isn’t that bad of an idea actually. It’ll be rather easy to access and it will provide a nice cool place to cool off in a place that’s not warm.

Some people prefer to stay away from city tap water as well but there’s generally usually nothing wrong with the city tap water, unless you’re someone who believes they’re putting stuff in the water to control your mind. All kidding aside, it’s not the worst idea to put some bottled and purified water into a bowl as the bottled water is relatively cheap and won’t harm the snakes. However, there are different documents that state city tap water does contain a certain amount of chlorine in the water and that it can be harmful to snakes.

There’s debate among this topic and whether this is true or not ranges from area to area. However, just to be safe, grab a shallow bowl and fill it with purified or bottled water.


The great debate for reptiles or animals in general is whether or not vitamins really too much of a difference. So do they or is it all just hype and marketing to get you to spend money you don’t need to spend? First off, we’ll get right into it and say that both of these answers are right, it’s both a marketing hype and it’s an essential part of helping your snake grow healthy. A lot of people have more than likely heard of vitamins such as Calcium or Vitamin C capsules specifically for snakes but do they really work?

First off, you should know that a majority of the vitamins that a snake obtains (even the corn snake) will more than likely come from the food they eat. So while they’re feeding and if they’re feeding at a healthy rate, then the majority of their essential vitamins that help them grow into healthy and mature adults will come from the animals that they eat. Why are vitamins so essential to healthy growing in the first place?

Things like Calcium and Vitamin C play a huge role in a lot of different things in not only animals but the growth as humans as well. Your ability and your pet’s ability to fight off infections are hugely affected by the amount of Vitamin C and Calcium in your or their body. If your pet isn’t getting enough vitamin C or calcium, then they’re prone to getting infections easier meaning there’s a risk they could die if they’re infected by say a live rodent that they feed on or from something in the habitat.

Vitamins aren’t a necessity to keeping your pet alive but they could be if you’re not monitoring your pet and making sure that they’re staying healthy. For example, if your corn snake doesn’t seem to be eating much for whatever reason, then you might need to consider some vitamins for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, if your snake doesn’t seem to be eating much, it could mean that it’s depressed and while there’s a few different things that could be causing this depression, eating is essential to helping the corn snake grow.

Whether it be the weather inside the cage is too humid, or they’re not getting enough to eat, if they become depressed, they must just stop eating in general which is where vitamins will potentially save their lives. Now, I know it’s hard to pick and choose which vitamins are best for your pet because there seems to be a huge plethora of vitamins out there on the market and they all seem to be the “absolute best” for your pet. Well are they? Not hardly, because some of them are just a different label and a different price tag with a different marketing gimmick.

However there are quite a few out there that do their intended job and do it very well. So how exactly do you go about choosing which vitamin supplement is going to be the best for your pet? Well first, let’s go over which vitamins will essentially boost the production and growth of your corn snake and which have been found to be the most effective. First, there’s Vitamin C which we covered as helping the immune system but there’s other benefits as well.

Vitamin C not only fights infections at a rapid rate more than the natural body anti-infection cells can but the corn snake growth production cycle is rapidly effected by Vitamin C as well. This is why it’s important whether it be through food or through vitamins that it has an ample amount of Vitamin C in its body.

Next up is Calcium and there’s a lot of debate on giving Calcium to corn snakes but these help strengthen snakes and help them grow as well. So all in all, while vitamins aren’t an absolute necessity, you will see a rapid health improvement if you do feed them vitamins and it doesn’t hurt anything. Your corn snake isn’t going to overdose on vitamins if you accidentally feed them too much, the most harm you’ll notice is that they produce extra waste.


Hibernation is something that a lot of different animals go through. Snakes however have a very unique type of hibernation process because usually that’s when they begin their mating process as well. There isn’t a whole lot of information on the hibernation process of corn snakes because while some owners are in denial that corn snakes hibernate at all, some people note that they have a pretty usual cycle of hibernation and it’s about the same as most other snakes.

One of the most common questions you’ll see posted is asking if the corn snakes do in fact hibernate because not a lot of people have witnessed this happening. Before the shedding process begins, you’re going to want to make sure that it has had a big meal inside of its stomach so that it can naturally hibernate and be well fed during the process. This is when you want to make sure you feed the snake a big meal so that it remains healthy through the process.

How long does the hibernation process last? Usually it lasts for about 8 weeks but times vary depending on who you ask. Some people say they last 8 weeks in hibernation and some people say they can go from December to March, so it really depends on who you ask and the general experience of owning a corn snake.

One essentially important thing to remember and to watch for is to make sure the temperature is cooler during hibernation than it would be during the summer or spring months. This is because if it’s too humid in the cage, then it won’t properly ingest the food it ate right before hibernation. This is the key and essential step to making sure they stay healthy when hibernating, they need to have not only a well fed meal but they need to have a cooler temperature as well due to their lack of activity.

Also, the more humid it is inside the cage, the more their metabolism rises and you don’t want it to be as high as normal, you want it to be slower.


All snakes shed their skin and as your corn snake grows, it will shed its own skin as well. When a corn snake is small, you might notice that they’re shedding their skin at a rapid rate compared to other snakes which is once every few weeks or sometimes even sooner. However as they get older, you’ll notice that the time between sheds increases casually. When they mature into an adult, you’ll note that corn snakes only shed their skin only once every few months instead of their young maturing schedule of once every few weeks.

Before the shedding occurs, you’re going to notice that they go through a dark skin looking phase which is known as the blue phase. This is completely normal and happens to all snakes before they shed. Also, a few days before they shed, you’re going to notice that the eyes look a bit more clouded than usual and sort of milky. This isn’t a cause for concern but this is completely natural and some people report that they don’t notice this happening at all. Basically, when you notice this cloudy eye look, it’s going deep into its own “blue phase”.

Only after the blue phase is over with, the eyes will clear up and the colors will begin to appear normal again. This is normal and while some owners complain that they don’t shed after the blue phase is over, that’s because they’re not supposed to, there is always a wait time. After a few days, the shedding process will begin which truly is a nice sight to watch. When it’s ready to shed, you’ll notice that the snake looks for a corner or some type of edge in the cage so that it can rub its nose on it like it has an itch.

Instead of taking ages, the shedding process is actually going to come off in one big piece and should be effortless. However, some owners report that not all of the skin comes off in one go and that you’ll find yourself with some extra skin hanging on there. It’s important to note that this skin needs to be removed with caution because it could become infected and create problems for your snake. Also, unlike some snakes, corn snakes will like to soak in the water bowl or get wet before they shed. It might help if you mist the snake as well to assist in the shedding process.

Misting is the simple process of spraying the snake with a little bit of water to not only help keep it cool but in this particular case, to help it with shedding as well. If not all of the skin comes off then what you can simply do is take a wet pillowcase and make sure you have drained out all of the water. You want the pillowcase to be rather moist but not soaking wet. Then, you want to carefully place the snake inside of the pillow cage and place it in a tub which is carefully placed underneath a heat lamp.

Make sure you have tied the ends of the pillow case so that the snake can’t escape or else you’ll have a mad shedding snake in your house. Then, after a couple of hours, you want to make sure that all of the skin has come off and usually it does after this process, so you don’t have to worry. Usually all the slithering around they do in the case while wet and moist removes any excess skin and if it doesn’t, you can carefully hold and hand remove any excess skin.

Ball Python Care Sheet



Depending on the age of the snake, it’s going to vary from snake to snake at just how large a cage terrarium should be. If you’re trying to find a suitable home for a young hatchling, then you’re only going to need a 10 to 20 gallon aquarium, but if you’re trying to find a suitable cage for a more mature and developed python then you’re more than likely looking at a 20 gallon terrarium. The larger they grow the more space that’s going to be needed to move around and develop.

When you’re dealing with a full grown adult, it’s been recommended that you go with a minimum of a 30 gallon terrarium, and while some people have gotten away with using less, it’s not particularly recommended for sanitary reasons or for the python’s peace of mind. You wouldn’t want to be concealed and locked up in a restricted area would you? Well neither does the Python, it needs room to move around.

If you’re not the greatest at measurements or deciding what kind of cage you should get, then there’s a good rule of thumb that experts like to go by. Basically, you take the length of your ball python and double that. You want to make sure that the cage is double the length and double the width so that there will be no doubt that there’s plenty of room for the python to roam about and feel comfortable.

Some people prefer to start out with a large aquarium because this eliminates the need to purchase a larger one once the animal grows. You have to keep in mind that while it may be cost efficient and saving space in the meantime to provide a small cage for a young python, it will grow over time and you’ll need to upgrade your cage. Not only that, but you’ll have to buy more accessories, more substrate and find a new place for it as well. It won’t necessarily hurt to start out with a large cage.

It should be noted that when you’re housing a ball python, you have to make sure that you cover the cage carefully because like David Coperfield, the Ball Python is a master at escape. These animals can slip and slide through the smallest cracks and find their way out of any hole that is present, so you want to make sure that you not only have a solid cage provided but that you have a lid or door that’s locked up. Don’t just rely on a standard piece of plastic to contain the python, make sure that there’s a lock on the door.

Wire mesh is the most common and preferred type of material for the cage because it allows proper ventilation and air intake into the structure. While some people do use glass material to enclose the animal, most people have the most stable and successful results raising ball pythons in mesh style cages. You have to keep in mind that you’ll be doing a lot of maintenance work on the cage as well and for the material inside the cage, so you have to keep that in mind when picking or building your cage.

Keep in mind some of the things that’ll be going into the cage such as substrate, papers, accessories, decorations and other materials as well. You’ll want to make sure that there’s not any sharp edges anywhere on the cage which requires careful and close inspection. Sure, there’s always the guarantee from the manufacturer that the cage is secure and safe, but you can never be too sure and you never know what happened to the cage during shipping to its final destination. Point and simple: Don’t rely on the manufacturer to make sure the cage is air sealed tight.

Inspect the cage properly before buying it and before putting any kind of animal inside of it. This should be done before any kinds of accessories are put into the cage. Cages are relatively inexpensive and are the first key steps to buying a ball python and maintaining it. You must pick an appropriate and optimal cage if you hope to grow your python into a mature adult or if you ever plan on breeding them as well.


One of the very next things you’re going to want to consider when housing your pet ball python is putting shelter inside of the cage. This is where you get to be creative while providing an essential part of your cage/structure. Why exactly does a ball python need shelter, aren’t they used to being out in the wild? Yes, they’re used to being out in the wild and outside all day, but however, what we don’t see is when they’re searching for shelter or essentially making their own shelter.

Sometimes in the wild, they might use a crack they find in a tree stump, a log, or even someone’s backyard, as you hear the scream of someone who just found a snake under their pool deck. The ball python more than likely doesn’t mean any harm, it was just trying to escape the humid conditions and find some shelter, that’s all. Why do ball pythons seek shelter in the first place? Essentially, shelter is sought because it’s brutally hot in some months of the year depending on the area they’re in.

When they’re in a cage, this is no different and no exception because it’s going to be brutally hot inside of the cage as well. While living in a humid condition is essential, it’s kind of like when we as humans go tanning. Being outside in the warm weather make feel good but when the humidity is high, sometimes we just want to be under shade or we want to take the day inside and stay out of the sun. This is how ball python’s feel sometimes and we must provide them with warm but adequate shelter to hide from the heat.

There are a multitude of different shelters you can find available, some of them ranging from extremely cheap and some of them are handmade. This is where you get to be creative because any kind of shelter really works ideally. If you’re looking to purchase one for relatively cheap, then you can find a lot of cage accessories available such as a plastic log, a real wooden log or something of that nature. Nature style props are great because they blend in with the cage well but they really have no actual purpose outside of looking great.

If you’re on a strict budget, then there are other options for you as well. You can hollow out a cereal box, flip it upside down, cover it with newspaper and use that as a shelter for the humid weather as well. I sincerely doubt the ball python is really going to care what kind of shelter you give it, as long as you’re providing some kind of shelter in return. There are a lot of homemade options for people out there who don’t want to buy them, such as the shoebox, the cereal box and some people have even recommended using milk jugs as well.

What some people will do is, they’ll cut half of the milk jug out, and they’ll spray paint it black or cover it in black electrical tape and use that as a shelter. Personally, I would rather see people purchase an inexpensive form of shelter that can be used so you don’t make the cage look tacky. Owning a ball python is relatively inexpensive and it doesn’t take a lot of money to own any kind of small exotic pet that’s kept in a cage as long as you maintain it well. If you’re still not sure of what kind of shelter you should get for your python, just remember this general rule of thumb to go by:

A ball python likes to seek out comfort in a small and dark space. They don’t like to be kept in the light when in shelter or be in a bright place. This is why they prefer places such as a damp log or buried under the leaves under someone’s pool deck. There are many different types of shelter, but as long as you provide one period, then you should be alright. However, you may find that your ball python spends a lot of time at first in their shelter whenever you come around the cage.

Ball pythons are known to be particular shy animals and don’t exactly come out a lot. What happens if you don’t provide shelter to your ball python pet? This is what can ultimately lead to the death of your pet if you fail to provide it shelter. Much like a human being does, animals get stressed out when they’re under humid conditions for too long and it’s just too hot out. If they can’t find comfort or shelter, they’ll eventually become stressed out and they’ll stop eating.


Housing is one of the most important factors for keeping your ball python not only happy but keeping it alive as well because there are different ideal conditions depending on different factors for your pet. Keeping your ball python in a cage is the one of most common and preferred ways to house your pet but there is another method of housing as well known as the rack system. In this method, you’re going to use something like a plastic box system and while this isn’t ideally recommended for just one ball python, the majority of people use them for a large number of pythons in general.

There’s nothing really wrong with using it for just one python but it’s recommended to use a cage and shelter system instead. One of the benefits of using a rack system is that you can keep a very large number of pythons (depending on the size) in a very small area. Some people will say that the boxes are setup ideally so that you can not only house a large number of pythons but so that you can spend less time doing manual labor on them as well.

The amount of time required by pythons kept in racks is much less compared to the counterpart but however there is a drawback to this. When you’re using plastic boxes such as the rack system, you usually can’t keep an eye on your snakes very well. Not only are some of them hard to see, you have to usually slide a drawer out to be able to keep an eye on the snake and to observe the behavior. Some people prefer to observe and watch the natural behavior of their pets when they own a python which for many owners is one of the best perks of owning such an exotic pet.

Some people just love the idea of owning a pet that most people are absolutely terrified of and it’s fun to watch them naturally interact with the things around them and how they live in everyday life. It’s a chance to not only house a python but to observe just how gracefully they move around, how they slide around everywhere and how they interact with nature. There’s also a very serious and more critical drawback of this system that a lot of people fail to mention or simply forget and that’s the rack system’s easy escape route.

You see, when you own a rack system, there’s a fatal flaw when it comes to owning several pets inside such a vulnerable system and that’s that many rack style housing systems don’t include or have a place to lock the pets up. You have sliding drawers that are easily accessed but many of them don’t have anything included to lock them up and keep the drawers from sliding out. One of the most common reasons for a pet escaping out of the rack system is because an owner forgot to shut the drawer all the way and when they come back, to their surprise, one or more of the pets are missing.

While most people love the idea of owning a ball python, I doubt most people love the idea of having one loose in your home and not knowing exactly where it is. This is why you have to be extra cautious if you’re using a racks or extendable drawer system to store your pythons. While you might be a careful person and pet owner in general, everyone forgets things sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, all it takes is one forgetful move to let loose some baby ball pythons in your home and trying to catch them won’t exactly be a treat.

While pythons are stored in housing, they aren’t necessarily known to bite or be aggressive but sometimes they can be mistaken for aggressive because of their nature. When you all of a suddenly reach your hand into their housing or environment, they might lash out and bite you and that’s not out of hatred or aggression. Sometimes, pets mistake their owners hand coming into the tank as feeding time and think that there’s food to be had, so they bite looking for food. Other times, it’s because you’re moving too quickly and recklessly, so you scare the python. Be careful when housing and make sure if you use the racks system, it’s secure.


Now, regardless of the type of cage or housing environment that you choose to go with, there’s one important factor that you must pay attention to because it will keep your animal not only alive but healthy as well. To make for ideal breeding and growing conditions, you need to make sure that you have adequate and ideal temperatures, so that it feels like the ball python is back in the wild or at least at a temperature that they’re used to being in.

This is why it’s highly important that you create a careful and proper environment for your pets. Ball pythons are very secure pets and they do very well in captivity but only under the ideal conditions so it’s important that either you or an experienced care keeper is taking care of them to maintain their health and safety. In an ambient cage there is an exact range of temperature that you should be shooting for to ensure a happy and long life of your ball python pet. The ideal temperature ranges can go from 82 to 85 when it’s day time and then during the night time, there will be ideally a slight drop in temperature. The temperature drops usually is only about 5 degrees or a variable small amount but it’s not very much.

However, there should always be a hot spot in your environment for the snake which usually should be kept at a constant 90 degrees. You have to remember that these animals are used to being in very warm and very humid environments. While there are some snakes that live in cooler climates and have adapted to survive in these climates, the particular pet here, the ball python is used to very warm and humid conditions. One of the most important things to include for temperature control inside of a cage is an area known as a temperature gradient.

What a temperature gradient basically provides is the ability to keep one area of the cage system cool and one area of the cage system relatively warm so that your snake can choose whether it wants to be warm or cool. Most people think as new pet owners, as long as they have a cage and a heating lamp, then they are good to go, but this can lead to an unhappy and stressed out pet. In return, once your pet becomes unhappy and stressed out, it may stop eating altogether which could ultimately lead to its death.

If you’re using a rack system as some people prefer when they own multiple ball python pets, usually you’ll find that you can use heat tapes or heat cables to help generate the heat required. This should be applied to each and every shelf inside of the rack to ensure that enough heat is getting inside of each rack. Only one source of heat being applied inside of a rack system will cause the heat to spread out and split up, meaning that one area of the cage might be warm, but then you’ll have another area that will be cool and could lead to some of your python pet’s deaths.

However, you should note that if you plan on using tape or cables, then you’re going to want to make sure that the tapes are connected to what’s known as a thermostat for these cages. Not just your ordinary thermostat that you’d stick outside on a warm day to track the weather or the pool, but there are quite a few different thermostats available to track the inside of a cage. It should be a high quality and new thermostat first of all. The higher the quality, the better because the thermostat will undoubtedly be one of the most important pieces of the entire set up that you’ll purchase.

What’s so bad about using one of the cheap thermostats that might work for your pool? Well for one, who cares if your pool has an improper reading? It’s really not a big deal if your pool is 5 degrees off what the thermostat is reading because it’s still going to serve the same purpose. You can still jump in for a splash and cool off but this is completely different when you’re using them to monitor heat for ball pythons. When you have an improper reading of the temperature inside the cages, this causes more than enough problems to cost you more money than you spent on the pets in the first place.

First, your pets may become stressed so any food you put inside will likely go to waste and they aren’t going to touch them. Second, that stress could lead to the death of your snakes because just like humans, they have emotions as well and can become stressed out. So what kind of heating thermostat should you use?

There are tons of recommendations on in the internet available for ball python housing thermostats and some might be better than the others but the general rule of thumb is, as long as it’s high quality then it should be just fine. One thing that many new pet owners don’t purchase but should is something known as the temperature gun. What does the temperature gun do? If you’ve ever worked in a meat department or had to work somewhere with a cooler area, then you more than likely have seen or heard of a temperature gun.

This little handheld device is simply pointed into the air or in the general direction that you’d like to measure the temperature and then you can simply pull the trigger. It will gain an accurate reading on the temperature. So what’s the point of this with a thermometer? The problem with a thermometer is, even with a high quality thermometer, it can’t measure the entire cage. A temperature gun will allow you to scan the entire caging area, including the shelter to find out what the exact temperature of every area is and to make sure your habitat is running at optimal temperatures for growing or breeding if that’s something you’re doing.

Now let’s talk about heating up display cages, because it’s a tad more complicated than heating up your typical cage. A ball python kept inside of a display cage will require a little more maintenance but it’s really not that bad. First, you’re going to need to get yourself a combination of heat lamps to spread out evenly over the cage. Then, you’re going to want to obtain a heating pad that will help spread head out and it’ll be applied directly onto the cage.

With a heating pad, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re covering a good 1/3 of the bottom of the cage, as this is likely going to serve as your number one source of heat. Your ball python pets will absolutely love you because it’ll give them the heat to their belly’s that they require and it will help them ingest their food as well, which leads to them being healthier. Figuring out the exact wattage you should be using with your cage will heavily depend on a few different factors.

First, you’re going to want to figure out how the ventilation of your cage is, what the room temperature is like and what the exact size of the cage is that you’re working with. That should be the first and foremost thing you do before placing any kind of lamps over the cage. Just remember, if you obtain a dark bulb, it’s not going to disturb the snake nearly as much as say another type of bulb would. Red nocturnal reptile bulbs seem to the most popular and most trusted source of bulbs for heating lamps in the ball python or reptile community for pet owners. Remember, pythons very much so hate bright lights just like most reptiles.

Now, you’ll also need to keep an eye on the humidity as well because Pythons require an immense amount of humidity to ensure that they’re kept healthy (usually around 75%). As long as the area isn’t too dry, then they should be fine and they shouldn’t have any kind of shedding problems.


The next thing we’re going to talk about is the substrate, or basically the ground foundation for the cage. One of the first things we should note is that ball pythons have a lot of different options when it comes to substrates that you can use and the options you have available because they’re very clean animals. Choosing which substrate will be best for your ball python won’t be a very difficult choice but there are a lot of different choices.

When you go to your local pet shop, you’ll probably find that there are at least over a dozen types of different substrates and almost any of them will work fine as optimal substrate. Really, it might boil down to an economic choice depending on your budget or it could even boil down to a cosmetic choice because one may look better than the other to you. So if you see something you like in the pet shop and you think it’ll look great in the environment you’re raising your python in, then by all means go ahead and get it.

However, some people might argue that there are some substrates that work better than others because of a few key different features and factors. First, you have your mulch like substrates that every python owner seems to love for one very key reason. When you have mulch substrate, and this goes for all pets, not just ball pythons but mulch seems to absorb moisture a lot and greatly helps the humidity inside of the cage. Mulch is relatively easy to find and for pricing options you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that mulching is very cheap.

The next most popular option would probably have to be aspen shavings because people like the look it gives the environment. However, the different kind of shavings, mulch, sand or other substrate might have a different look depending on what kind of accessories or toys you have put into the cage. If you’re looking to build a jungle like environment, then you’re obviously going to go with what resembles dirt the most. If you’re looking to build an urban like environment, then mulch would more than likely be the most practical choice if you care about the cosmetic look of your cage.

So why do people love aspen shavings so much? Well for one, aspen shavings are very easy to spot clean. Spot cleaning is the act of finding particular health hazards or dirty objects inside of the cage that shouldn’t be there when you’re doing maintenance. Anything that shouldn’t be in a cage is like a sore thumb when it’s in aspen mulch. However, some people prefer to use newspaper because they find that it’s easy to spot on newspaper as well and newspaper is relatively easy to clean up after.

Also, while newspaper is extremely cheap, it’s also more than likely the easiest solution to clean up after because when you need to lay down new substrate, all you have to do is replace the newspaper and remove the old. This may not look the best, but it can be practical and it’s the best substrate for someone on a low budget who wants to own a pet. Ball pythons aren’t particularly going to care or really judge you on the substrate that you pick for them, they could care less.

However, there’s one important thing you need to remember for bedding and substrate that could be harmful to your snakes. Remember, cedar is the one and only substrate that’s not going to be suitable for ball pythons simply because the bedding is harmful and toxic to all breeds of snakes. It could possibly very well end up killing your snakes.


The most important part of taking care of a ball python or let alone any animal is feeding it. Everything has to eat, and everything has to poop and snakes are no exceptions to this rule. When ball pythons are kept in captivity are under ownership, they usually eat things such as rats or they eat mice for the most part. If you’d like to creature your own version of the Discovery Channel, you can feed your python some live rodents and watch them devour them whole as nature at its finest goes to work. However, if you’re a relatively squeamish person and don’t really like the idea of seeing a rat eaten alive, then you might want to feed them some frozen-thawed rats instead.

I’m not relatively sure why you’d own a pet if you’re a squeamish person, but there are those people, so you’ll be glad to know that you can keep your options open. However, for those people who prefer frozen-thawed rodents, there are some benefits to them as well. One benefit being that you can purchase a rather large supply of them and in bulk for cheap. They’re far more convenient for purchasing than live rodents where as you have to continuously go back to the store and buy live rodents every single week for food.

Also, you’re not really running a risk or threat to your snake if you feed it a thawed out rodent because it’s not alive and it will not try to fight back. However, when it comes to having a live rodent in the same vicinity as your snake, they have been to known to try to fight for their lives because well let’s face it, wouldn’t you? Live rodents have been known in the past to not only injure but kill snakes that were trying to feed on them as well. You don’t run that particular risk when you’re storing dead rodents, all you have to do is put them in the same area with the snake.

However, there’s also a drawback to counteract those benefits because some reptiles have this thing where they only like to eat live bait. You may not encounter this a lot if you breed or own a lot of pythons but sometimes, you’ll find that they won’t eat dead bait and prefer to eat live bait for the activity instead. So sometimes, you may encounter the problem known as resist feeding, where they refuse to eat the thawed out at. If you have a rather large collection of say about 100 snakes, you might find that maybe 1, 2 or even 3 of them might resist feed thawed out rats.

So while it may be inconvenient to have to separate the two into categories of which snakes would eat live rats and which ball pythons would eat thawed out rodents, it’s beneficial to your snake’s safety to keep an eye on them and feed them only live rats. Again, you may run that risk of your snake being injured but this is by far not a common occurrence and shouldn’t be taken as a sign that it will happen if you do it. It should be noted that when you feed ball pythons thawed out food, only about half of them or (50%) will eat on a weekly basis.

However, with the stimulation that live bait and food provides from live rodents, you’ll find that that number increases to at least 75% of them eating on a weekly basis. It comes from general instincts and being in the hunter survival instinct mood. In the wild, they have to hunt for their food and their food isn’t just going to sit there playfully or pretend its dead, it’s more than likely going to fight back and while dangerous, that’s something reptiles are used to. However, it really comes down to a personal choice and making sure that you keep an eye on your pet during feeding whether you feed them live or thawed.

Just remember that if you’re staying consistent with your feeding habits, you’ll find that there are far better growth rates and that the babies will grow considerably as well.

So how exactly do you make that switch from live to thawed with no problems and having a smooth transition? If you’re working with baby ball pythons or smaller snakes that are currently feeding off of live rodents and for whatever reason if you want to switch them to thawed food, it’s going to take a little bit of time and a little bit of patience. Some people have recommended that you should let the snake go an entire week without feeding.

So how do you do this and what’s the best practice? First, you’ll want to obtain a rodent and thaw it out to the point where it’s at room temperature. Then, you’ll want to firmly place it under a heat lamp and let it sit there for a few minutes to make sure it gets de-thawed. What is the general purpose of this and why does it help? Basically, if you raise the temperature of the rodent, the snake will more than likely think the rodent is live and it might eat it regardless of it not moving at all. Never ever just reach your hand in there and try to offer a snake a meal, but instead you should use a bit resist glove or tongs to place the meal in there instead.

Reaching your hand into a container with an empty snake is asking to be bitten whether or not the snake sees you as a potential threat. What happens next is something you usually see on tv, but it will strike the rodent thinking that it’s live and will wrap around it’s victim still thinking that it’s live. It will constrict the rodent to prevent breathing and to try to snap it’s bones. If all goes well, it won’t care that there was no struggle and it will take the bait. However, some people have reported that it doesn’t go well or as planned on the first attempt and that it might take several tries.

You can keep doing this until the snake adapts, thinks it’s alive or gets used to the new type of food you’re feeding it. However, you should note that sometimes ball pythons can be extremely stubborn and that’s something they’re commonly known for.

When you’re feeding your snake live pets, you need to make extra caution and be advices that you should never ever leave a large rodent in a cage with a snake unattended. Yes, snakes are powerful killing machines that will strike their enemies down before they usually get a chance to fight back but the larger rodents can sometimes injure or kill the snake if you’re not being careful of paying attention. However, the smaller rodents usually won’t injure the python and it’ll just become a healthy meal.

So just make sure to pay close attention because even in a fight to the death, a ball python snake can be ignorant and stubborn. It might not fight back at times and that’s when you have to be ready to react and to remove the rodent.

You’ll more than likely going to want to develop a feeding schedule and determine just how large of a feeding size you should be giving your snakes. Some people like to feed their snakes different varieties of rodents to see what they eat the most and what they tend to prefer. It’s preferred that if you’re nursing baby ball pythons, you try to get them to take rats at the earliest age possible to get them used to the conditions of eating a live rodent. Sometimes it’s hard, but it takes persistence.

Once your baby pythons have begun to stop eating rats, you should cut off mice. Ball pythons at the most are usually fed once a week and this is the most common. This not only includes adults but can go for breeders, babies and juveniles as well. However, if you’re noticing that one of the babies or premature adults isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like, then there’s nothing wrong with offering it extra feed once or more a month. Don’t over feed them but don’t be afraid to throw in an extra meal at least once a month to help the production.

So how large should a meal ideally be? Ideally, you want to take the diameter of the thickest part of the snake and use that as a guide to determine just how much should be fed into the snake. To put this scale into perspective, a 75 gram hatchling can reach upwards of 700 grams once it’s only a year old so you should plan accordingly and monitor their feeding rates of what they’re eating or not eating, because you’ll have to constantly keep adjusting.


Making sure that your ball python pet has enough water is easily one of the easiest jobs of owning a ball python and is a relatively short guide in doing so. Obviously, there’s always the golden rule when it comes to water, that you shouldn’t give your snake any water that you wouldn’t want to drink but as animals, they’re usually a lot more tolerant to water and food than we are. I mean, I doubt you’ll be eating a live rat any time soon, but you could do if it you wanted to.

You always want to make certain that you have some fresh water in the cage at all times. No matter what season or what time of the day, you want to make absolute certain that there’s fresh water somewhere available in the cage. If it’s become contaminated and dirty, then maybe it’s time for an overall cleaning of the entire cage.

Some people change the water depending on their schedules or when they see fit depending on how dirty the water gets but as a general rule, I would recommend changing it at least once a week or once a week at the maximum. I know some people don’t feel it necessary and change it once every couple of weeks and that’s fine as well. As a general rule, just look at the water every day and make sure that it’s still fresh and make sure that there’s still plenty in there. If it looks dirty or contaminated, then obviously, the solution is to take it out; clean it and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to clean the cage as well.

However, some breeders and experts claim that they prefer to change the water once every few days, which might be a tad bit overboard, but you can never be too careful. A ball python doesn’t spend a lot of time near the water and you aren’t going to observe your ball python soaking in the water bowl too often so you don’t have to worry about a lot of things getting into the water. However, it may be of concern if live rodent or bait droppings are somehow making their way into the bowl that should be looked at immediately and cleaned.

There are several different ways you can apply water to the cage. First, you can create or buy a low budget low rise bowl to store the water in that will sit idly in a corner of the cage. You can ideally place the bowl where ever you want, but it’s probably the best if you place it in the coolest section of the tank so that the water doesn’t become too warm too quickly. Really, there’s no wrong answer here and it’s all going to boil down to, what looks the best to you for cosmetic reasons.


When you’re trying to get your ball python to grow up as healthy as possible, the idea of vitamins comes up as an essential nutrient. This has been a battle for sometimes because there’s a lot of argument and debate over this topic. Some people firmly believe in vitamins and everything that they can do for a pet but some people say they’re a total waste of money and should be avoided. However, what is the ultimately conclusion and are vitamins something you should be feeding your pet ball python?

Let me first start off by saying that vitamins don’t necessarily hurt anyone (even humans) and it’s extremely hard to overdose on vitamins, unless you’re taking like a million times the percent recommended which is near impossible to do in a day. However, there are some natural vitamins that ball pythons get just from eating and being under a heat lamp. When your pet consumes rodents, it’s already receiving an ample amount of calcium and the lamps are assisting with giving your pet some D3 but are vitamins necessary?

Most of the vitamins that your snakes will get will actually come from the rodents that you feed it believe it or not, but however there are some vitamins on the market that help speed up the nutrition and growth of your snake. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of products out there for reptiles to feed them vitamins so choosing which one is best for you will require a little research. If your pet isn’t eating as much as it used to, then you could be concerned about a vitamin deficiency such as Calcium or C.

In that case, it might be beneficial to feed your pet some Calcium and Vitamin C to help growth. This could also be a sign that your snake is depressed. However, if you want the best source of vitamins, they’ll come directly from the rodents, so while nutrients from products will help, you should make sure you’re getting the best possible rodents for your ball python.


One of the most interesting times for a ball python comes around the time to hibernate. You’ll know exactly when a snake begins to hibernate because they’ll begin to refuse food and this is usually the time where the beginning of their hibernation begins, right when their refusal to eat begins. When pitted against female ball python snakes, it’s the males who will begin to refuse food first and go into hibernation before females. Usually this happens around August but sometimes has been noted to happen in October as well, so this is something you should be keeping an eye on.

When it comes to female hibernation, they tend to do it at least one month later, and you’ll notice that they start to do it in around November or December. In order to achieve this particular period of time, you’re going to need to be certain that there’s a cool spot for the snakes to hibernate in as it’s required for hibernation. However, you should be warned that something is wrong if the snake is refusing to eat their food three weeks in a row and if there’s no adequate cooling.

If this happens to you or seems to be the case, then you need to check the tank for any warm spots and cool the tank off. Otherwise, you might need to look at your heat lamps to make sure they’re not outputting too much power and build a better shelter if need be. Make sure to use your temperature gun as discussed in the temperature section to make sure that your snake has adequate cooling spots for hibernation (usually the shelter).

So why is this necessary? When animals hibernate, they require a cool spot to do so because if they do this in humid and warm conditions, they’ll lose far too much weight and the snake’s metabolism will shoot through the roof if you’re not careful. The problem here is that if they’re losing too much weight and there’s nothing being added to help gain weight such as food, this can be deadly to the snake’s health. However, remember, if you cool the tank way too early before hibernation even begins, you’re going to cause a digestion problem and it’s not going to properly digest the last thing it ate before it goes into hibernation.

Then, you should take about three weeks and monitor the snake, but after about three weeks go by (it varies by snake), you can place males and females together in the same living enclosure. During hibernation they’re not particularly going to care or try to fight (that is, if you have a male and female together). Hibernation season also marks the start of breeding season, so if you’re looking to breed your pythons, that’s generally around the time that they’re going to start.

After the first night of being together, you’re going to more than likely notice that the tails of the snakes will be wrapped together in the morning. What’s happening here is the beginning of the breeding process and it’s best to just leave them alone, and the time for this will usually vary from couple to couple. You’ll find that in some cases, it’s only a few hours but in some cases, it can be as long as two days (while this is rare, it does happen).

However, if they haven’t begun to breed within a couple of days or even three days to play it safe, then you should gently spray or (mist) the snakes with water and the tank to keep it cool. Sometimes, what this can do is stimulate the snakes that it’s time to begin breeding and they’ll begin once this happens. When they’re finished, you should be sure to place the male back where you got him. During breeding, timing is important and remember it only happens during hibernation.

After a few days at the most, you can then re-introduce the male ball python to the female and you’ll continue to do this until they’re no longer breeding. You’ll know when the female is ovulating by noticing that the mid-body will be generally swelling. Once you notice this, it’s a good chance that ovulation has begun and if you’re looking for a time frame, this usually happens around spring. You’ve done everything up to this point and breeding should be a success up to this point.


As all snakes do, the ball python will periodically shed off their skin from time to time as the animal continues to grow and develop. If you’ve never had any experience with a snake before, then don’t panic because the shedding of the skin is completely normal and shouldn’t be any reason to cause alarm. What is the reason that a snake sheds? The most simplistic reasoning I can give is that a snake sheds because they’re growing and their skin has become obsolete. It’s basically what happens when a snake outgrows its own skin.

Shedding in general will usually occur during the summer time and will generally last anywhere from four to six weeks. However, it’s only going to happen when it’s feeding every week, so you need to make sure that your snake is healthy and eating appropriately as well to have a healthy shedding and not run into any issues. However, during the winter months, it’s only going to shed once at a healthy rate. Usually this is before hibernation begins (which is usually around winter) and when winter is over, it will shed again. This is because the skin simply becomes old at a rapid pace and at a more degenerative pace than it does when it’s summer time, so the two shedding times are pretty close together.

When shedding has or is ready to begin, you’ll notice that the skin color on the snake will appear to be darker. It may be hard to see from the heat lamp, but once you get a close look, then you’ll notice that the skin color is more dark than normal. Also, you’ll notice that the snake will have its own bluish cast to the skin which changes the color. As with most animals during shedding or hibernation, you’ll notice that the eyes will gain this eerie looking cloudy or milky looking appearance, this is completely normal and shouldn’t cause for alarm. The cloudy look in their eyes only remains this way for a few days and then it will be back to normal again.

Shedding commonly begins at the nose of the snake after this milky eye cloud period is over. Generally, most things that shed will start from the front (nose area) and will go all the way back to the tail, with the tail being last. This process begins with the snake trying to rub the skin back. Usually to assist with the shedding, the ball python will look for a corner or something in the cage that can help assist the shedding of the skin. It will latch onto it with its body, and try to go forward while shedding the skin.

The best way to describe the sight is like watching someone turn a sock inside out but at a slower pace and something that takes days to build up to. Also, you have to remember that once the cloudy phase of the shedding process starts, the snake isn’t going to be able to see very well. Also, it’s good to note that during the time of shedding, there’s many various things going on and your snake isn’t going to have the best attitude at the time either, and will become slightly more aggressive than you’re used to. It’s not advised to try handling the snake during the period of shedding because this may have undesirable results.

After the shedding process has to come to an end, it’s important that you inspect the snake to make sure that not only that the snake has shed its skin successfully but to make sure that not any old skin remains because this is something you’ll more than likely have to peel off by hand. The most important areas that you’ll want to check are around the eyes and around the tip of the tail. So what’s the worst that can happen if you happen to leave any skin left on the snake? Not only will the snake be in a not so favorable mood from the irritation that’s caused from the dangling skin, but it can cause infections.

So that’s why it’s important to scan for any old skin that hasn’t quite shed because after a few days, you might be left with some infectious skin left on the surface. The best way to do this will be to first, grab a pillowcase and wet it, and make sure that you’re squeezing all of the excess water out that you possibly can. Very carefully, handle the snake long enough so that you can put it inside the wet pillow case and then you want to tie the pillow case shut. Don’t worry, this is only temporary and won’t harm the snake as long as it’s done quick.

What you’ll want to do next is place the pillowcase with the wet and mad snake in a tub that’s placed directly under your heat lamp. Then, simply leave it alone for a good couple of hours and this alone should be remove all the leftover skin, and who knows, your snake might just show you some gratification and thanks for what you’ve done.